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Characterization of gold inventory and impediments to recovery at an active heap leach facility

Paper from the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Heap Leach Solutions, 2014 held in Lima, Peru, November 10-13, 2014. (downloadable PDF)

Authors:
Jason Keller and Michael Milczarek, GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., USA; Scott Olsen and Isaac Amponsah, PhD, Barrick Gold NA, USA

Published by InfoMine Inc., November 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-9917905-6-2

Copyright: 2014, InfoMine Inc.

Abstract

A focused data collection and analysis program was conducted to quantify and determine the location of gold inventory at a commercial gold heap leach pad and to identify potential causes of limited gold recovery from the facility. Thirty-two exploratory sonic coreholes were drilled into the leach pad to collect intact leach ore samples. Core samples were logged to describe the rock type, texture, color, mass, and volume. Subsamples were collected for metallurgical and physical property testing. Physical property testing consisted of particle size distribution, particle density, and solution content. Metallurgical testing consisted of fire, cyanide shake, and caustic rinse gold recoveries. Field and laboratory results were interpolated across twelve subzones and averaged over each 20 foot lift. Data revealed an interval of ore containing higher fines fraction. Solution content generally increased and dry bulk density decreased over the same interval. An increase in cyanide-shake and fire assay gold values was also observed at and below this interval, while a decrease in recoverable gold in solution was observed over the same interval. The metallurgical and physical property results indicate that the fine-textured interval of ore is limiting solution movement into the underlying ore and controlling long-term gold recovery within the leach pad. Using additional hydraulic property data from ore samples, the mean saturated hydraulic conductivity was estimated from the <#200 mesh size fraction and the estimated dry bulk density. Ore lifts within each subzone were then classified into different hydrologic types based on estimated saturated hydraulic conductivity. The hydrologic classification provides a large-scale relative assessment of heap permeability that can be used to develop a hydrology-based model to evaluate alternative leaching strategies.


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