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New style gold plant commissioned

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article image The Woolshed Gully gold processing plant.
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GEKKO Systems has reported that Stage 1 of Ballarat Goldfields' (BGF) low cost and fast delivery gold recovery plant was commissioned successfully as scheduled.

Ballarat Goldfields managing director Richard Laufmann said the timetable achieved was testament to the dedication of the team involved.

"I don't think this could have been achieved elsewhere in the country in such a short time frame. The skills and facilities available through Gekko Systems in Ballarat were second to none.”

Stage 1 of the Ballarat Goldfields plant has a number of unusual features designed to take advantage of the coarse gold ore body.

The plant is designed to run initially at a full capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) and is expandable well beyond that. Plant throughput is expected to rise to a rate of 400,000 tpa by the end of this calendar year, a rate which has already been achieved during plant commissioning.

The unique design of the plant incorporates a conventional two stage crushing circuit that is achieving a crush size of <25mm at a rate of >1.5 million tpa.

The crushed product is stored in an above ground bin capable of holding up to 500 tonnes of feed for the tertiary circuit. An allowance has been made for a second bin of the same or greater capacity to allow for daytime crushing and 24 hour running of the remainder of the circuit at the expanded capacity.

The final product size reduction is carried out by a Vertical Shaft Impactor (VSI) which is achieving better than design size reduction at a P80 crush of 650µm.

The Gekko Gravity Recovery System runs in closed circuit with the VSI and consists of rougher and scavenger InLine Pressure Jigs (IPJ) followed by a cleaner IPJ that produces a concentrate stream of approximately 4% of the mass (5% design).

Mass pull is variable depending on the sulphide loading in the circuit. A Falcon concentrator scavenges the final tail. Final tailings residues to date have been better than expected and well below design.

Stage 2 of the process plant is planned to incorporate an intensive cyanidation plant to maximise the recovery of gold from the sulphide concentrate stream. Significant work has been carried out on the actual concentrates to ensure the downstream process will be at least as efficient as the primary recovery circuit.

"The success of this plant so far is a credit to our design and production team and I am proud of its results. I also think it looks beautiful," Sandy Gray, Gekko's technical director and innovation guru, said.

Given that the plant is located in the equipment supplier's home town, Gekko has provided a broader service than normal. To date this has included site preparation and construction management. Gekko has also established a subsidiary operations and project management team, Spinifex Projects, to operate the BGF processing plant.

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