Heap Construction and Solution Application

Muhtadi, Omar A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 15
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
6.1 INTRODUCTION The three most critical factors in successful heap leaching operations are: • The methods employed to pretreat ore (i.e, crushing and agglomeration); • Placement of ore on the leach pad (heap building techniques); and • Wetting of the ore with cyanide (solution application techniques). Improper execution of any of these initial steps may result in a substantial sacrifice of total metal extraction or, in the worst case, in project failure. Ore preparation in terms of crushing and agglomeration was discussed in Chapter 5; this chapter therefore focuses on commonly employed techniques for heap construction and solution application. The main objective of heap construction is to obtain the most homogeneous heap possible. "Channeling" of leachate in heaps with preferential seepage paths leads to preferential leachate distribution and uneven/incomplete extraction. The two main contributing causes of channeling are inadequate attention to heap construction and uneven solution application. These pitfall s can best be avoided through a knowledge of the various techniques available and the applicability and success of these techniques with various ore types and site conditions. The remainder of this chapter provides a discussion on these two subjects. 6.2 HEAP BUILDING TECHNIQUES Successful heap building techniques vary with the type of ore and, since no two orebodies are exactly alike, some slight modifications are usually necessary for each specific project. However, it is possible to generalize in terms of the appropriate techniques to be used with ores having similar characteristics. This section discusses the three most commonly used methods of heap construction and provides some guidelines with regard to ore types, construction constraints, and lift height parameters for each of the three. 6.2.1 Run-of-Mine Dumping and Dozing The run-of-mine method of heap building can only be used with ore of a highly silicious nature (i.e., ore which will not generate a large amount of
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