Year-Round Heap Leaching of Gold in Cryolithozone

The experience of heap leaching (HL) was analyzed in the following cold climate regions: Alaska, Western regions of the United States, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The disadvantages of the developed domestic mobile units were uncovered, and the potential for creating HL mobile units was assessed to enable a year-round use of the technology, including in the cryolithozone. The results are presented, which were obtained during investigation of the material composition of the study object, i.e., technogenic gold-containing deposits of the Transbaikal region. The main element content of the mineral raw materials of the technogenic deposits was as follows: Au — 0.35 g/m3, Ag — 3.9 g/m3, SiO2 — 69.3 %, Al2O3 — 15.4 %, Fe2O3 — 5.9 %, CaO — 0.21 %, and MgO — 1.15 %. The phase forms of gold included: cyanidable (intergrown) — 2.3 %, “sealed in quartz” — 13.5 %, “enveloped” — 28.6 %, in magnetite — 55.6 %. A continuous process line was developed, which included the following four unit modules: gravity concentration, first stage of leaching (tank leaching), second stage of leaching (heap leaching), and sorption. The layout of the continuous process line (HL option during the period of subzero temperatures) is provided.

The optimal values of the main process parameters of gravity concentration, as well as the first and second stages of leaching have been established experimentally. Prior to tank leaching, an active multiple-reagent solution based on sodium chloride, water and ozone compounds was prepared in a sealed electrochemical reactor. The tank was partitioned into three sections, in which the following operations were carried out in series: chemical opening of the gold-containing minerals; chlorine removal from the geomaterial; and tank leaching of gold. The total duration of heap leaching was 365 days, which was achieved by using two technological options: option 1 (195 days) — classic HL method (from early April to mid-October), option 2 (170 days) — heap leaching in stationary concrete cuvettes using engineering solutions during the period of subzero temperatures (from mid-October to the end of March). A schematic layout of the stationary concrete cuvette constructed in a special way and buried within a 5 to 8 m layer of soil above the ground level with shielding of the upper surface of the stack (heat-insulating covering, clay, large pieces of ore, sulfide rocks) is provided. Product solution drainage was used at various heights, and perforated rigid PVC pipes were used for supplying warm air deep inside the material. The recovery of gold from the technogenic raw materials was increased on average by 27.1 % due to a year-round heap leaching with the use of two technological options: 1 — by 28.7 % (from 58.1 to 86.8 %) using a classic HL method, and 2 — by 27.4 % (from 58.1 to 85.5 %) by using HL in stationary concrete cuvettes. It is proposed to utilize the secondary waste of the HL field (total of five types) in the road-building and construction industries.

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Correspondence to L. V. Shumilova.

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Translated from Metallurg, Vol. 64, No. 10, pp. 56–64, October, 2020.

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Shumilova, L.V., Khatkova, A.N., Myazin, V.P. et al. Year-Round Heap Leaching of Gold in Cryolithozone. Metallurgist 64, 1046–1056 (2021).

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  • technogenic deposits
  • encapsulated gold
  • cryolithozone
  • physicochemical geotechnology
  • active solution
  • heap leaching
  • year-round leaching
  • environmental management