Gekko Systems won the highly commended award for their underground processing plant at the Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards. Gekko Systems won the award in the minerals processing plant of the year category for the second time in the award’s five year history. The first time was in 2006 for the Lihir Mining’s Ballarat goldfields plant and now for the Python underground processing plant.
The underground ore-processing unit treats the material at the source instead of hauling it to the surface. The flow-on benefits of this unit is its ability to reduce the volume of concentrate taken to the surface for further treatment to as low as 10%.
In 2004, Gekko Systems began the research and development of a mobile underground plant prototype. The underground processing system addresses the issue of size and adaptability, problems that have dogged other products attempting to provide solutions in underground processing.
Measuring 2m wide, 5m high and 67m long (9m x 7.5m modules), the underground processing system dimensions will make it workable in mine tunnels measuring 5m x 5m. The underground processing system’s modular design allows its layout to be flexible, it can adapt to the curves of the terrain and it can be applied to most mine tunnels and openings.
The processing plant unit applies pre-concentration to the ore underground and reduces the volume carried to the surface by up to 90%. Initially Gekko Systems were concerned with improving Mine Call Factors, however, when explored further with potential industry partners, other factors started to emerge as economic spin-offs with mining companies being able to save up to 15% to 25% of their total costs.
The principle of the Gekko Python project involves size reduction, screening and gravity and flotation pre-concentration underground as close to the working face as possible. To achieve this, low cost, modular units have been designed to be installed in drives near each of the working stops, so that as the ore is blasted it is removed by LHD or similar and delivered into the feed hopper. This minimises the possibility of fine losses into footwall cracks.