Improved gold recovery by accelerated gravity separation
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This project was specifically aimed at using increased acceleration separation, as a method to optimize the recovery of gold in an ore body mainly consisting of hematite where the specific gravity of gold is much higher in comparison to the carrying material, making it possible to separate gold from other materials like silica, base metals and their oxides, usually associated with gravitation-gold-recovery-processes. The ore body investigated in this project originated from a gold reef containing a large portion of gold locked inside the gold pyrite complexes, which was mined and treated in a conventional way. After gold extraction, the material was pumped to a tailings dump and the gold extraction of this dump was investigated. In order to assemble a concentration plant setup, the head grade and size distribution of the dump and bulk sample were determined accurately. Chemical analysis and mineralogical examination were done on a representative sample of the bulk sample, to determine the chemical composition of the material. The results obtained thereof were evaluated and a pilot plant was configured. A bulk sample was processed in the pilot plant and the results were evaluated. The results at optimum acceleration forces applied, resulted in a recovery of 5% of the mass, with a gold concentrate of 90 g/t Au, which represented 58% recovery of the gold. The hematite with high specific gravity as main phase positively influenced the high acceleration separation process. It proved that if the specific gravity of particles in a suspension were increased, high acceleration separation could be applied effectively to separate much smaller particle sizes.