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Assessment of options for economic processing of preg-robbing gold ores

Dunne, R., Buda, K., Hill, M., Staunton, W., Tjandrawan, V. and Wardell-Johnston, G. (2007) Assessment of options for economic processing of preg-robbing gold ores. In: Proceedings of the World Gold Conference, 22 - 24 October, Cairns, Australia pp. 205-211.

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One of the challenges facing the gold industry in the 21st century is the continuing need to identify new reserves of economically treatable ores. Discoveries of large, metallurgically simple orebodies are becoming increasingly rarer, forcing companies to investigate options for the processing of ores which may present recovery, economic and/or environmental issues, requiring innovative approaches to their treatment.

Ores which contain naturally occurring carbonaceous material (‘preg-robbing ores’) are an example of one such ore type. Newmont’s Jundee operation contains zones of carbonaceous ore within the oxidised orebody. A program consisting of detailed laboratory work and extensive plant trials has been undertaken to assess the options of the processing of this material.

Laboratory tests demonstrated the advantage of carbon-in-leach (CIL) over direct cyanide leaching and carbon-in-pulp (CIP) for treatment of these ores. The laboratory program identified several factors which would enhance overall gold recoveries where preg-robbing ore was being processed, including:

keeping preg-robbing ore separate from non-graphitic ore;

maximising gravity recovery; and

ensuring the plant operates in ‘pure’ CIL mode, ie no leaching prior to first adsorption tank.

Several plant trials were undertaken to assess the economic sustainability of treating moderate preg-robbing ores through a modified gravity/leach/adsorption circuit. Results indicated that where good operational control of the circuit was maintained to ensure high gravity recovery, minimal leaching prior to carbon contact, and maintenance of good, active carbon inventory, then acceptable and sustainable overall gold recoveries could be obtained. Using these relatively simple plant modifications potentially allows a plant to treat ores with preg-robbing index (PRI) values up to one. When PRI values rise to 1.3 - 1.6, leach recoveries can drop from >85 per cent to <40 per cent, indicating a more intensive approach may be required, including kerosene addition and higher carbon inventories and activities.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Integrated Hydrometallurgy Solutions
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