Porgera mine is 95 per cent owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. It is located at an altitude of 2200–2700 m above sea level in the Enga province of Papua New Guinea and produces approximately 460 000 oz per annum with a proven and probable reserve of 6.2 Moz. The refractory ore is ground in a conventional semi-autogenous grinding and ball mill circuit. After the gravity gold is recovered, the slurry is floated, oxidised in the autoclaves and then leached. This paper will focus on the flotation circuit and the recent upgrade of the control system. The five interdependent flotation circuits were challenging for operations to control as they dealt with variable grade, throughput and circulating loads, as well as the physical limitations of the equipment. With the installation of 18 Portage Froth Characterization® (PFC) cameras, the plant’s operation has been converted from a level-control based strategy that was focused on individual cells to one that targets grade and recovery control across the entire circuit. Variability in feed and the corresponding launder issues were addressed with a unique site initiative of deflector plates to indicate filling level. Non-linear closed loop control was implemented directly in the DeltaV Distributed Control System (DCS) using Portage Advantage Regulatory Control (PARC) algorithms and optimised with AwaRE advanced controllers. The most noticeable benefits achieved with the upgrade include improved flotation gold recovery, consistent flotation sulfur grade and autoclave performance. Correspondingly, there was a significant drop in boiler diesel fuel usage and launder overflow conditions.
Kewe, T, Moffatt, N and Schaffer, M, 2014. Porgera
flotation circuit upgrade and expert system installation, in Proceedings
12th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 345–356 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).