The Waihi Gold Mine (WGM) operated by OceanaGold New Zealand Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the OceanaGold Corporation of Australia. Traditionally WGM has stockpiled and processed separate campaigns of open pit and underground ore. The ore is processed via a conventional semi-autonomous grinding (SAG) / ball circuit (SABC). The low aspect SAG mill operates in a closed circuit with two 20″ cyclones, whilst the ball mill is also a closed circuit with a 10″ cyclone cluster.
A major wall movement in April 2015 ceased open pit operations indefinitely, 18 months ahead of the mining plan. This immediately reduced the forecast mill tonnage leaving two options: begin campaign milling or change the operating strategy and target lower throughput. Additional cost pressures necessitated improved milling cost efficiency.
The immediate ore restriction limited processing alternatives to within the existing major infrastructure. Available comminution circuit survey data laid the foundation for developing a comminution model using the JKSimMet™ software package (version 6, created by KJTech). A number of flow sheet variants were then evaluated based on predicted throughput and efficiency.
The comminution models suggested opportunities for improved efficiency lay in reducing throughput and increasing utilisation rather than on/off campaign milling under the existing operating philosophy. A series of process alterations followed, delivering new cost efficiencies that maintained the current $/t processing cost. This paper aims to review the change in circuit performance and examine the decisions and challenges faced following the transition from a high tonnage SABC circuit to lower tonnage SABC circuit.
Haines, C and Bertoldi, D, 2016. The Transition from Semi-autogenous to Autogenous Milling at Waihi Gold, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 303–312 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).