Telfer Gold Mine is a gold-copper mine in the eastern Pilbara of Western Australia, owned and operated by Newcrest Mining Limited. Telfer’s ores are processed by a dual train, 21 Mt/a, concentrator where gold is primarily recovered by gravity concentration and the flotation of a gold-bearing copper concentrate. A minor portion of Telfer’s gold is also recovered to a pyrite concentrate that undergoes treatment via carbon-in-leach (CIL) cyanidation. The gold recovery of the CIL circuit is below the industry standard and operates with a high reagent consumption rate.
With a new fine-grinding facility, the Telfer process plant will have the ability to liberate copper and gold from the pyrite concentrate and recover these by flotation prior to the existing leaching circuit. This process will improve overall gold and copper extraction, while reducing reagent consumption in the CIL circuit.
This article is an overview of the development of this methodology. Size-by-size analysis and mineralogical studies of monthly composites identified factors limiting the CIL gold recovery and the causes of high reagent consumption. Laboratory studies confirmed a relationship between the regrind product size and gold leach recovery. The addition of an intermediate flotation stage ensured that the regrind circuit will improve overall recovery while at the same time reducing operating costs. Without the addition of a flotation stage, the additional reagent consumption from regrinding alone would be prohibitive towards increasing recovery. Pilot scale studies confirmed the conditions required to selectively recover gold and copper from the pyrite concentrate as well as establishing the full scale regrinding energy requirements. Construction of this facility at Telfer is currently underway.
Burns, F, Seaman, D R, Peng, Y and Bradshaw, D J,
2012. Development of a pyrite regrind circuit at Telfer Gold Mine, in
Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference, pp 45-52 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).