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Geometallurgy applied to small-scale mining: a case study


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Author D Lozada and A Salazar


Geometallurgy is a tool that, for more than a century, has been present in the implicit operations of mineral beneficiation. There’s a need to understand the characteristics of the material to be processed. This has led metallurgists to ask geologists what type of rock and mineralogy is entering the Beneficiation Plant and vice versa. The geologist needs to understand the beneficiation process in order to be able to carry out the production programming. The paradigm is whether geometallurgy can be applied to small-scale mining or if it is only aimed at large companies that invest millions of dollars to conduct studies. With this work, we provide an example of how geometallurgy can help improve the processes of a small mining company located in Ecuador (South America).

We performed characterizations of geological and mineralogical and metallurgical tests in universities and the National Research Institute of Geological Metallurgical Mining. The origin of the theme is based on the fact that gold has been detected in the final tailings. The flotation concentrates meet the standards in terms of the content of economically profitable metals, but this isn’t the case with regards to the percentage of arsenic, which has hindered sales. The hypothesis is: conducting technical and scientific research will optimize the metallurgical process for the recovery of gold and concentrates. The referential framework is the mining geology of the Bella Rica District, current status of the Beneficiation Plant. In the theoretical framework there are parameters of the veins, comminution operations, gravimetric concentration, flotation, and cyanidation. The methodological framework contemplates the characterization of the gold ore, the chemical, mineralogical, textural, metallurgical analysis and the interpretation of the results. Thus, the design of a geometallurgy model of the deposit, with its main characteristics, is a conclusion that serves as a basis for the proposal of the optimization of the metallurgical process.


Lozada, D and Salazar, A, 2018. Geometallurgy applied to small-scale mining: a case study, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2018, pp 153–162 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).