Ubicación: San Bernardino
An Integrated Biotechnological Approach to Gold Processing
This paper reviews the state of the art in processing and extraction of gold. The ore bodies which were considered uneconomical at one time are becoming economical due to new and advanced methods of extraction. The paper discusses the gold treatment methods on free milling ores with conventional cyanidation and refractory ores with direct and pretreatment techniques for the recovery of high gold values.
In the extraction aspect, the paper discloses two different extraction schemes on treating refractory ores, namely pretreatment followed by gold leaching and direct leaching. Pretreatment process involving roasting chemical oxidation and bio-oxidation have been discussed. Direct leaching of gold ore processing such as heap leaching, carbon in pulp (CIP), carbon in leach (CIL) and resin in pulp (RIP) are summarized. This paper also dicloses in a detailed manner the research approach on the development of alternative leach reagents which could improve environmental concerns as compared to the use of cyanide.
Special emphasis of the review is focussed on the technical and economic guidelines for developing a small gold mine on the basis of capital and operating cost analysis.
Gold miners are facing a reserves crisis, and what is left in the ground is becoming more and more challenging to process. Refractory gold reserves, which require more sophisticated treatment methods in order to achieve oxide-ore recovery rates, correspond to 24 percent of current gold reserves and 22 percent of gold resources worldwide (Exhibit 1). Despite offering a higher grade, these ores can only be processed using specific pretreatment methods such as ultrafine grinding, bio oxidation, roasting, or pressure oxidation (POX). This special treatment is required for two reasons: first, to liberate gold particles encapsulated in sulfide or arsenic minerals; and, second, to eliminate carbonaceous material occurring in the ore, which adsorbs dissolved gold instead of active carbon that is normally added to the leaching solution.
According to MineSpans analysis, approximately one-quarter of the gold in geological reserves and resources can be considered refractory, and most is located in regions with a long history of gold exploration and mining, as well as a lower investment risk, such as North America, Oceania, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is important to note that the additional processing steps required for treating refractory ores generate additional costs compared with conventional plants; however, the reserve grade for these ores is on average 86 percent higher than those of nonrefractory-type deposits (2.25 grams per metric ton on average, versus 1.21 grams per metric ton for nonrefractory ores).
Our analysis shows that, in the near future, production from refractory-type deposits is expected to grow at a higher rate than production from nonrefractory ores (Exhibit 2). This production growth for refractory ores can be explained by analyzing two main factors: costs and grade.