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Defying Gravity – Brownfield Continuous Improvement


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Author L D’Uva, J Robinson and T Bell


The Gold Fields group and Gekko Systems have successfully worked together on multiple projects, including at the St Ives, Agnew and Granny Smith operations in Western Australia, and the Damang operations in Ghana, with gravity recovery design, technology installation and optimisation the key driver on each occasion.

In 2014, Gold Fields Australia identified an opportunity to challenge the historical thinking at Granny Smith and reassessed the benefit of upfront gravity gold recovery. The historical approach had been to employ gravity on the tailings stream of the carbon-in-pulp (CIP) circuit, recovering sulfide minerals into a concentrate from spiral concentrators for further liberation of gold via a regrind circuit.

Gekko was engaged to assess the implementation of a gravity circuit within the grinding area, and to perform a comprehensive gravity recoverable gold test program. Test data was fed into the AMIRA P420 BCC Gravity Model to confirm the gravity recovery potential of the ore, and for process design basis generation.

Height, space and capital limitations proved to be a design challenge. However, collaborative learnings throughout the project ensured the design and operation of a reliable and economic gravity gold circuit. Ultimately, the Granny Smith gravity circuit was a success, satisfying all the project objectives and yielding consistent, measurable benefits. On average, the gravity circuit recovers 33 per cent of total gold, resulting in an increase to overall gold recovery by 0.7 per cent.

This paper highlights the key project drivers for Gold Fields, and the development of the Granny Smith free gold gravity circuit. It details application of test work and modelling, and the challenges and learnings encountered during the design, installation and commissioning stages. This paper seeks to demonstrate that continuous improvement in a long standing operation can be beneficial to overall circuit flexibility and increased ounce production.


D’Uva, L, Robinson, J and Bell, T, 2016. Defying Gravity – Brownfield Continuous Improvement, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 135–144 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).