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Economics of Refractory Gold Ore Processes

John E. Litz and R. Wayne Carter

Abstract

Refractory gold ore pretreatment processes continue to receive much attention. This paper compares the relative economics of treating ores by oxygen pressure oxidation, roasting and bacterial oxidation with or without preconcentration by froth flotation. Capital and operating cost estimates for each method of pretreatment were prepared and these estimated costs and ore sulfide grades then are used to compare the process economics.

The study indicates that the most significant item affecting the economics is the amenability of the ore to flotation. The cost benefits of flotation are $10-13 per tonne ore processed (2%-4% Sa, 10:1 ratio of concentration). In most cases bacterial oxidation has the lowest overall cost, especially if less than complete oxidation of the sulfides will give acceptable recovery, however bacterial oxidation has yet to be practiced on a large scale. In all situations pressure oxidation shows the highest cost. However, the cost differences between the treatments are small, less than $7 per tonne.

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Economics of Refractory Gold Ore Processes

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