|Summary / Abstract
||Smoky Valley Mining Company, Round Mountain, Nevada, was the pioneer operation designed for large scale heap leaching of crushed gold ores. It is located in the Big Smoky Valley which stretches 160 km (100 miles) through central Nevada west of the Toiyabe Mountain Range. Gold was first-discovered at Round Mountain, 88 km (55 miles) north of Tonopah, in 1905; and mining in the area included placer operations, which ran from 1946 to about 1960.
Smoky Valley Mining Company is a partnership of Felmont Oil Co., Case-Pomeroy & Co., and Copper Range Co., with the latter being wholly owned by Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. In 1969, an option on the Round Mountain property was acquired by Copper Range, and during 1974 a decision was reached to proceed with mine development and plant construction. Ore reserves were reported at 10,537,000 mt (1 1,617,000 st) of 2.09 g per mt (0. 061 oz per ton) gold using a cut- off grade of 0.69 g (0.02 oz). Silver content was approximately 2.4 g per mt (0.07 oz per ton) and the waste to ore ratio was about 1: 1. By the end of 1976 heap leaching was in operation.
The ore is a rhyolite tuff, sometimes described as a gold porphyry with highly abrasive qualities but which does not break down into slimes upon contact .with cyanide solutions. Gold is unevenly distributed through the ore but as a whole it is in a very finely divided state.
Climatic conditions are extreme in central Nevada. Summers are hot and dry while winters are windy and cold with subfreezing temperatures. Elevation of the property is about 1,920 m (6,300 ft). Precipitation averages 203 mm (8 in.) per year. Until February of 1980, leaching was continued until the temperature reached minus 2ºC (28º F), and about 10 months leaching was the average.
Water for the operation is drawn from the Toiyabe Mountains through a 13. 7 km (8. 5 mile) pipeline, originally installed in 1915, or from wells in the valley bottom. The plant requires make-up water at the rate of about 1,500 liters per min (400 gpm).
On a schedule of three shifts, seven days per week, the daily output at Round Mountain amounts ,to 12, 700 mt (14, 000 st) consisting of 6,350 mt (7,000 st) each of ore and waste. Ore is hauled with a fleet of 45 mt (50 st) trucks and dumped into the 1,0.70 by 1,650 mm (42 by 65 in. ) gyratory primary crusher located near the pit. The primary