Base-metal sulfide refractory gold ores often contain a portion of ‘free’ gold that is amenable to recovery using gravity concentration methods, whilst the refractory portion of the gold is better recovered using flotation. The decision as to whether a plant treating a refractory gold ore should utilise gravity concentration or a flash flotation circuit (or a combination of both) within the grinding circuit is usually made at the design stage of flow sheet development. Very limited data is available in the published literature which provides an industrial scale comparison on which to base such a decision and conventional laboratory testing methods are often the only way of obtaining such data. The optimum processing route will also be mineralogy dependent.
This paper presents the findings of operating a refractory gold plant with either flash flotation (normal operation) or a combination of flash and gravity recovery methods treating the cyclone underflow stream and will demonstrate the regions of the recovery profile that each contributes to. Size-by-assay analysis has been performed on a number of streams around the operating plant to gain an insight into the changes that occur when the gravity circuit is in operation in addition to the flash flotation circuit. A discussion around the implications to overall plant operation in combining the use of a batch process (gravity concentration) with a continuous process (flotation) is presented.
Newcombe, B and Semini, D, 2014.
Interactions between flash flotation and gravity concentration – an industrial
case study of a refractory gold concentrator, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM
Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 427–436 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).