Geology and Ore Characterisation in Gold Heap Leaching

Roberts C,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
The satisfactory testing and characterisation of mineralisation amenable to heap leaching, is of prime importance to successful operation of a project. This paper outlines a methodology for assessing material suitability. A general model is used for classing material types for suitability for treatment and for economic analysis. The four levels of these are overburden, oxide, transitional and unoxidised materials. During exploration, reverse circulation (RC) drilling can be used effectively to define these zones by a combination of logging, analysis and provision of cuttings for column leach and bottle roll trials. RC cuttings can he used effectively for column leach trials, when calibrated against conventional processing-sized samples, obtained from surface. Tbis allows metallurgical testing to depth and definition of transitional ore types and the base of oxidation, accurately and economically with an acceptable density of samples. The accurate prediction of base of oxidation and variations in recovery with depth and ore types can be used to develop 'economic' pit designs with zones of variable recovery. Petrological studies of leaching results and examination of mineralisation types carried out on concentrates, provide information on gold distribution and physical and chemical constraints. The examination of concentrates can be particularly useful for types of mineralisation when overall gold content is frequently at or below one pan per million. Explanation of anomalous recovery of gold grains in dense goethite and solution-robbing by carbonaceous material can be identified by use of petrological and scanning electron microscope. An understanding of the role of the host rock in leaching characteristics can also he provided by petrology where siliceous or clayey materials can require significantly different treatment.
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