June 2011


Title: Provencher goes deep

Sub-title: Agnico-Eagle’s director of operations, standards and performance, achieved notoriety by managing its flagship site.


Agnico-Eagle’s flagship LaRonde site is one Canada’s largest gold mines. With that much skin in the game and the ore trading at near record high prices, it should come as no surprise that the company would try to get as much of it out of the ground as fast as possible. So when Agnico-Eagle picked Christian Provencher to manage the site back in 2006, he instantly became a highly watched industry player.


Provencher’s success at LaRonde and in overseeing its extension project, scheduled to begin full production this fall, only increased his visibility and by mid-summer of this year, he was named Agnico-Eagle’s new director of operations, standards and performance. “The project will be completed on time, on schedule and on budget,” says the industry veteran. “But there were a lot of challenges.”


Enlarging the LaRonde site meant in effect building a new mine, within a mine, including a new kilometre long shaft, which brings its total depth to an eye-popping 2.9 kilometres. “Finding contractors that were sufficiently staffed with employees that had the appropriate skill sets proved difficult,” says Provencher. “In the end, we decided to use our own people when possible, particularly with excavation work.”


Another major challenge stemmed from rising input costs due to the commodities boom currently sweeping world markets, particularly in energy and steel. According to Provencher, Agnico-Eagle dealt with the problem by working with on-site engineers to make changes to the initial extension designs in order to reduce the amount of steel used.


Of course not all was roses. One particularly heart-wrenching challenge came with the unfortunate death of an employee at the LaRonde operation, who was struck by a piece of equipment on the job. The accident came as a terrible shock to all involved and led the company to renew its efforts to seek out the best proximity detection technology available.


Provencher’s reward for his work at LaRonde will include a new role with increased responsibility, as well as the opportunity to travel to other Agnico-Eagle installations in Quebec, Finland and Mexico. Nor does he flinch for a moment at the prospect of being on the road for one or two weeks each month.


“It’s a great opportunity that will give me a chance to pass on my knowledge to a lot of younger people at the company,” says Provencher. “Taking on this new “mentor” role should be a lot of fun.”



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