Developing A New Process Design For The Southwestern Oregon Industrial Mineral Bearing Placer System Via Practical Study Of The Unique Deposition, Mineralogy, And Dry Tailing Requirements - Introduction - Preprint 09-038

Drew, J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2009
Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC), an industrial minerals mining company, is currently engaged in the development of a new process design that will allow the unique paleo-beach placer deposits of southwestern Oregon to be mined efficiently and economically, creating an additional domestic source for chromite, garnet, and zircon. Engineering design has been guided by the variable geology and mineralogy of the paleo-beach placer deposits as well as the need for a dry tailing scheme that resolves a lack of water resources at the placer locations and at the same time eliminates the need for slurry settling ponds, typical of paleo-beach placer operations in North America. Metallurgical study of the placer material was grouped into four distinct samples based on marine terrace deposition, geological facies, and mineralogy. Because the metallurgical samples represented the extremes likely to be encountered in all future Oregon paleo-beach placer ores, the process design is highly dynamic and will successfully adjust to meet the production needs. Water availability at the mining area is seasonal and will not support a typical placer operation?s water requirement needs for heavy mineral concentration. For this reason, ORC has developed a plan to construct the ore processing facilities near Coos Bay, where a municipal source of water is available. Raw ore will be transported from the mining sites approximately twenty miles one way to the processing facility with return loads hauling tailings back to the active pit. The need to haul dry tailings, return dry material to the pit for reclamation, and limit the amount of water being purchased from the municipality has driven the design of a unique water reclamation system. BACKGROUND Location and Access Economic concentrations of ?black sand? or heavy mineral (minerals with specific gravity greater than 2.85) have been recognized and studied in marine placers from Coos Bay to the mouth of the Rogue River, a distance of approximately 75 miles along the southern Oregon coast (Hornor, 1918; Griggs, 1945)(Figure 1). ORC will begin mining existing reserves approximately 20 miles south of Coos Bay in a region known locally as Seven Devils. Ore will be trucked north to the processing site near Coos Bay via use of existing county and state roads, including U.S. 101. The available facilities at the processing site include highway, rail, municipal water and electricity, natural gas, and a deep water port. At the time of this writing, the rail line had been abandoned, but was being pursued by the International Port of Coos Bay. It is anticipated that this will be serviceable at some time in the future. History The southern Oregon marine placers have garnered the interests of miners since 1852, when present day beaches were exploited for gold. The beach deposits were small and irregular in nature and were easily washed away by the major storms the coast endures during the winter months (Hornor, 1918). [ ] In the 1920?s, deposits at the beach were followed upstream to their paleo-beach terrace origins (Pardee, 1934). These terrace placers were mined, but with little success, as the cost of mining and processing was greater than at the present day beach deposits. The greatest effort to understand and delineate the paleo-beach terrace placers came during World War II. As the need for a domestic source of steel hardening chromite was evident, the heavy mineral bearing placers of southwestern Oregon provided just that. The U.S. Geological Survey, under guidance from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, began exploration drilling of the paleo-beach terraces in 1940 (Griggs, 1945). This work was part of the investigation of strategic mineral deposits and would ultimately supply much needed chromite for the war efforts. The first mining efforts began in 1943 by the Humphreys Gold Corporation and the Krome Corporation (Griggs, 1945). Black sand
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