Chlorine Based In-Situ Leaching of Alluvial Gold Deposits

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1992
Alluvial mining even of shallow deposits is often economically a marginal proposition and causes significant disruption of the land surface through the need for large scale excavation. In-situ leaching using chlorine-based solutions eliminates the need for excavation, the disruption of surface activities, and may greatly reduce processing costs and improve recovery especially of fine gold. A spreadsheet model has been developed to design and analyse the economics of in-situ leaching of alluvial deposits. In-situ leaching of shallow deposits may be achieved in a number of ways including solution infiltration via perimeter ditches or the use of injection and production wells. In most instances deeper alluvials may only be processed using well systems. Two deposits are analysed in this paper. The first consists of one metre of payable wash beneath one metre of overburden. Some thirty fields per year are treated processing 450 000 BCM per year at a cut-off grade of around $4/tonne ($8/rn3 or the gold value equivalent of 0.26 gh or 0.52 g/m3). The principal costs are well drilling and labour. Sensitivity analysis indicates that doubling the throughput halves the cost. The economics of the project are relatively insensitive to reagent costs and consumptions, and halving the recovery doubles the cut-off grade. Shallow deposits treated using the infiltration ditch system may be marginally cheaper and more conveniently managed although this depends on the relative cost of digging the perimeter ditches. In a second example, deep leads with one metre of wash beneath 30 metres of overburden necessitate significant drilling and feature reduced throughputs as a consequence. In the example chosen 30 fields a year are processed for an annual throughput of 65 000 tonnes costed at around $20/tonne (1.4 g/t Au equivalent, $40 /m3). Sensitivity analysis indicates that throughput, and drilling cost per metre are not important but there is a high sensitivity to recovery and to the depth to payable wash.
Full Article Download:
(835 kb)