Leaching of gold and silver from a Kupol composite sample: assessment of the CANMET enhanced leaching process (CELP)
Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, 2010, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 179-183
Deschenes, G.; Fulton, M.; Rajala, J.; Guo, H.
In an earlier study (Deschênes et al., 2009), gold and silver were shown to be efficiently extracted from samples taken from the Kupol Mine in Russia using lead nitrate in a cyanide leach system. In the current study, a comparison of the technical and economic merits of a new technology called CANMET enhanced leaching process (CELP) was made with the cyanidation/acidification-volatilization-recycling (AVR) process using eight metallurgical variability samples, as well as a large composite sample, which was to represent the initial two years of Kupol mill feed. The composite sample leach feed assayed 33.4 g/t Au and 289 g/t Ag. The metallurgical results from the large composite sample demonstrated that CELP produced very similar gold and slightly higher silver leach extractions compared to the conventional cyanidation/AVR leach conditions at 1/2 the cyanide concentration (1,000 ppm NaCN in CELP vs. 2,000 ppm for cyanidation/AVR leach conditions). It was estimated that the total cost per ton was approximately the same for the two technologies (total cost of CELP with the use of Merrill-Crowe at $46.48/t, with cyanidation/AVR at $46.13/t). However, the implementation of CELP would eliminate a capital expenditure of approximately $5 million for an AVR system based on a 2005 feasibility level cost estimate. Eight variability samples used to confirm the composite sample results showed that, on average, the gold leach extractions with CELP and the conventional leach conditions were very similar, but the average silver leach extraction was 2.1% higher for CELP. Furthermore, CELP silver leach extraction was 4.6% higher on average compared to conventional cyanidation for the four mid-grade variability samples evaluated. The decision was made to remove AVR cyanide recovery from the flowsheet and implement CELP at Kupol. The ability to use the conventional leach equipment with CELP and simplify the flowsheet was also a factor, given the remote location of the Kupol Mine.