b

Bureau of Mines Information Circular/l984

Gold and Silver Leaching Practices in the United States
By Peter G. Chamberlain and Michael G. Pojar

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

.

Information Circular 8969

Gold and Silver Leaching Practices in the United States
By Peter G. Chamberlain and Michael G. Pojar

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR William P. Clark, Secretary BUREAU OF MINES Robert C. Horton, Director

As the Nation's principal conservation ogency, the Department of the Interior has responsibility fa most of our nationally owned public lands and natural resources. This includes fostering the wisest use of our land and water resources, protecting our fish and wildlife, preserving the environmental and cultural values o our national parks and historical places, and providing for f the enjoyment of life through o u t d o a recreation. The Department a s s e s s e s our energy and mineral resources and works t o assure that their development is in the best interests of a l l our people. The Department a l s o has a major responsibility for American Indian reservation communities and fa people who Live in Island Territories under US. administration.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:

Chamberlain, Peter G., 1942Gold and silver leaching in rhe United Scares.

(Bureau of Mines information circular ; 8969)

Bibliography: p. 36-38. Supr. pf Docs. y :1 28.27:8969. .

1. Gold mines and mining-United Stares. 2. Silver mines and mining-United Scares. 3. Solution mining-United Stares. I. Pojar. Michael G. 11. Title. 1 1 Series: Lnfomation circular (United States. 1. Bureau of Mines) ; 8969.

For s a l e by the Superintendent ot Documents, U S . Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402

CONTENTS Abstract Introduction Acknowledgments Mineralogy Leaching technology Heap leaching ore preparation Dump leaching ore preparation In situ leaching ore preparation Leaching process -each solutions Solution distribution Recovery Comparison of techniques Zinc precipitation Charcoal adsorption Leaching operations Arizona California Colorado Idaho Montana Nevada New Mexico South Dakota Permitting regulations Federal regulations State regulations Leaching problems and research Percolation Temperature Solution loss ................................................. Calcium salt scale Research on novel solution mining methods In situ leaching Leach farming Thin-layer leaching Summary References Appendix.--Gold and silver leaching bibiliography ILLUSTRATIONS

....................................................................... ................................................................... ................................................................. ..................................................................... ............................................................ ................................................ ................................................ ............................................. ............................................................. ............................................................ ...................................................... ..................................................................... ................................................... ......................................................... ........................................................ ............................................................ ...................................................................... ................................................................... ..................................................................... ........................................................................ ...................................................................... ....................................................................... ................................................................... ................................................................. ......................................................... .......................................................... ............................................................ ................................................. .................................................................. .................................................................. .......... ...................................................... ............................... ...................................................... ......................................................... ................................................... ................................................................... ..................................................................... ..............................

. . . 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
1

2 3

Heap leaching system Typical pilot heap leaching operation &Ap leaching system In situ leaching systems Fixed-spfay solution distribution Rainbird sprinkler Bagdad wiggler Solution distribution by ponding Pregnant effluent solution collect ng pond

....................................................... ...................................... .............. ........................................ .......... ........................................ . ........................................ ................ ........................................ .................... ........................................ .. ........................................ .................................

ILLUSTRATIONS--Continued

Page 13 14 22 24

Zinc precipitation recovery sse.................... ytm.................... Charcoal adsorption recovery sse................... ytm................... Leaching operation locations in the United Sae............. tts............ In situ leaching test at Ajax Mn.................... ie.................... TABLES Gold and silver heap and dump leaching operations in the Western United
Sae................................. tts................................

Location data for key oeain..................... prtos.................... Ore mineralization and process c a a t r s i s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . hrceitc.............. Leach solution tetet......................... ramn...,..................... Environmental Protection Agency regional ofcs............. fie............. State permitting a e c e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . gnis.....................

16 19 20 21 30 31

UNIT OF MEASURe ABBREVIATIONS USED I N THIS PJPORT ampere ampere p e r s q u a r e f o o t B r i t i s h thermal u n i t p e r hour degree Celaius centimeter foot s q u a r e f o o t p e r pound

L/s

l i t e r p e r second

~ / s . c m - ~ l i t e r p e r second per square centimeter

m
mi min

meter mile minute s q u a r e meter p e r kilogram m i l l i l i t e r p e r second p e r square centimeter millimeter mole p e r mole ounce ounce p e r ton pascal percent t o n p e r day t o n per year volt watt week
I

m2 /kg
m~/s.cm'~

gram
g a l l o n p e r minute g a l l o n p e r minute per square foot gram p e r k i l o g r a m hour inch kilogram k i l o g r a m p e r day k i l o g r a m p e r c u b i c meter kilometer pound pound p e r c u b i c f o o t pound p e r s q u a r e i n c h pound p e r t o n

.

weight p e r c e n t year

GOLD AND SILVER LEACHING PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES
By Peter

G .

Chamberlain1 and Michael

G .

Poiar2

ABSTRACT
The surge in gold and silver prices during the 1970's attracted many new mining operators and has rekindled interest among experienced ones. With its low capital investment requirements and fast payout, leaching has attracted many operators--particularly those with small or lowgrade deposits. Although in certain situations leaching offers many advantages over conventional mining methods, many operators are uncertain how these relatively new techniques should be implemented. Consequently the Bureau of Mines has prepared this circular to disseminate information on gold and silver leaching practices, techniques, and problems. Engineering data gathered from 26 operations indicate that most ores are leached in heaps following crushing and distribution on pads. e t a 1 values are recovered from cyanide leach solutions using either zinc precipitation or charcoal adsorption. Potential problems that may hamper on block development of a leaching operation are poor percolation characteristics of the ore, calcium salt buildup, low temperatures, and solution losses. An extensive bibliography on gold and silver leaching is appended.

Supervisory mining engineer. *Mining engineer. Twin cities Research Center, Bureau of Mines, Minneapolis, MN.

INTRODUCTION Climbing gold and silver prices during the 1970's awakened dormant interest in mining these metals in many districts. Since gold and silver deposits frequently can be profitably mined by small operators, a mix of mining activity has been created, comprised of large and small companies, both experienced and unexperienced. A key factor in the profitability of small mining operations is the advent of an alternative to conventional mining and milling operations--solution mining (leaching). Basically gold and silver leaching involves spraying a cyanide solution on the ore to dissolve the metal values, collecting the solution containing the dissolved metals, and recovering the metal from the solution. By eliminating milling, leaching reduces capital cost and startup time for new operations. Operating costa are likewise significantly lower. The disadvantages of leaching are lower recovery and greater difficulty in controlling the cyanidation process. There are three types of leaching systems--heap, dump, and in situ; "vat" leaching accompanying conventional milling operations is not considered in this publication. If ore is mined or if it is gathered from old nine waste-rock piles and hauled to specially prepared pads o lined with clay, tar, or ~ ~ ~ a lfor n ~ leaching, the method is "heap" leaching (figs. 1-2). The rock is frequently crushed before being placed on the pad. If mine judged to value to solutions waste-rock contain justify can be piles or dumps are sufficient mtneral leaching and the controlled dthout

3 ~ eerence to specific products does f not imply endorsement by the Bureau of Mines. Barren s l t o ouin from processing pat ln

Influent l a h n s l t o e c i g ouin
S l t o makeup ouin tn ak

Slto ouin sprays

Pregnant e f u n s l t o f l e t ouin

-

-

-

FIGURE 1. Heap leaching system.

-

Sotutcon makeup

tank

appreciable l o s s e s , the p i l e is "dump" leached without any preparation ( f i g . 3). Although t h i s technique i s r a r e l y used f o r leaching gold and s i l v e r , it is common i n t h e copper industry. F i n a l l y i f t h e o r e is broken and l e f t i n place or i f i t conducts f l u i d s flow without b l a s t i n g , i t can be leached "in s i t u " o r in-place ( f i g . 4). An exposed o r e body can be leached i n s i t u by sprayi n g s o l u t i o n on t h e surface and c o l l e c t i n g it i n recovery wells a f t e r i t has percolated down through t h e ore. For buried o r e bodies, t h e s o l u t i o n must be i n j e c t e d i n t o t h e formation through inj e c t i o n wells and recovered from adjacent recovery wells. Although copper and uran i m have been leached i n s i t u , t h e r e have been only sporadic attempts t o develop such operations f o r leaching gold and s i l v e r . One attempt t o i n s i t u ' l e a c h gold a t t h e Ajax Mine near Victor, CO, i q described l a t e r . Since many operators a r e considering leaching gold and s i l v e r f o r t h e f i r s t time o r a r e experiencing problems i n est a b l i s h i n g leaching operations, t h i s rep o r t summarizes leaching p r i n c i p l e s and p r a c t i c e s , discusses problem t h a t may be encountered, and l i s t s sources of addit i o n a l information i n a bibliographic appendix.

EXPOSED ORE BODY

BURIED ORE

FIGURE 4.

- In situ leaching systems.

A K O LD MNS C N WE G E T The authors wish t o express appreciat i o n t o t h e following mining companies Company American Selco, Inc.................. Can-American Mining Co............... C a r l i n Gold Mining Co................ Congress Consolidated Coal Mining Co. Cyprus Exploration Co................ D Z Exploration Co................... Gold Creek Corp...........,.......... Gold Resources J o i n t Venture......... Golden Arrow, Inc.................... Hildebrand Drilling.................. Landusky Mining Co................... t h a t provided engineering data on t h e i r leaching experiments or operations: Location k n o , NV Tombstone, AZ Carlin. NV Phoenix, AZ Carson C i t y , NV Lovelock, NV Eureka and Ely, NV Cripple Creek, CO Las Vegas, NV Phoenix. AZ Landusky, MT

Location--Con. Occidental Minerals Cr....... op...... Placer Amex Ic........... n........... Scholz Minerals Engineering. Zc.. n... Silver Ridge Mining C........ o....... Smoky Valley Mining C........ o....... State of Maine Mining C....... o...... Tombstone Exploration. Ic..... n...... o...... Vekol Mlne Development C...... Windfall Vnue.......... etr........... Zortman Mlning C.......... o.......... MINEUALOGY Since many good references are available on the geology of gold deposits, such information is not provided herein. Of particular importance however, in evaluating the leachability of goldsilver deposits is their mineralogy. Gold is usually deposited as native or 5. free gold associated with pyrite ()4 Occasionally, as at Cripple Creek, CO, the gold is deposited as a telluride. Various heavy metal compounds are frequently associated with the gold. Silver is usually deposited in its compound form. Besides native silver (Ag), those minerals containing leachable silver are argentite (silver sulfide, Ag2S), cerargyrite (silver chloride, AgCl), embolite (AgC1, AgBr), and bromyrite (silver bromide, A B ) gr. Other silver minerals are not readily leachable A variety of mineralogical conditions can hamper or prevent leaching of an ore. For example, deposits that contain organic carbon are not suitable because the carbon prevents much of the gold from dissolving and adsorbs any dissolved metal before the leach solutions are recovered. Other refractory ores are those in which the gold or silver is totally encased by an impervious matrix material such as quartz so that the leaching solutions cannot contact the metal. Copper, cobalt, and zinc in the ore may preferentially take the place of gold and silver in the leaching reaction and greatly reduce the reaction with the desired metal. Some ores, such as tellurides or those containing arsenopyrite or antimony, must be roasted before they can be leached with cyanide and so are not amenable to heap leaching ( 2 . Although other 1) leaching solutions h G e been investigated for use with telluride deposits, no commercial heap leaching operations have resulted. Pyrrhotite is another mineral that complicates leaching. Decomposition of pyrrhotite in cyanide produces ferrocyanide, which removes free cyanide from solution and prevents its reaction with the gold or silver. This decomposition also removes oxygen from the solution, which further decreases the reaction with gold and silver. If manganese occurs with silver ores, its higher order oxidation products can liawthorne, NV San Francisco. CA Helena, MT Tombstone, AZ Round Mountain, NV Tombstone, AZ Tombstone, AZ Chandler, AZ Eureka, NV Mica, WA

(12, 24).
Ore can be economically leached at grades about an order of magnitude lower than they are commonly milled. Current leaching operations are producing gold from ores containing as little as 0.03 ozlton with cutoff grades down to 0.01 oz/ton. Most silver leaching operations produce from ores grading 1 to 4 ozlton. The easiest ores to leach are those that have been weathered or oxidized, liberating the gold or silver from pyrite or other encapsulating minerals. dunderlined numbers in parentheses refer to items in the list of references preceding the appendix.

form r e f r a c t o r y compounds of s i l v e r and manganese (8, 38). Many s i l v e r d e p o s i t s were l e f t unmined throughout t h e Western United S t a t e s because of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r problem. Some of t h e s e d e p o s i t s may be amenable t o d u a l leaching, f i r s t w i t h aqueous SO2 t o recover manganese, followed by n e u t r a l i z a t i o n and l e a c h i n g w i t h cyanide t o r e c o v e r s i l v e r .

Clay m i n e r a l s i n t h e o r e pose a major problem i n l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n s . The c l a y p a r t i c l e s block t h e l e a c h i n g s o l u t i o n ' s flow through t h e o r e and i s o l a e e l a r g e p o r t i o n s of o r e from t h e s o l u t i o n . Some heaps c o n t a i n s o much c l a y t h a t t h e solut i o n perches on t o p w i t h n e g l i g i b l e downward p e r c o l a t i o n .

LEACHING TECHNOLOGY HEAP LEACHING O E PREPARATION R Ore p r e p a r a t i o n f o r heap l e a c h i n g cons i s t s of (1) p r e p a r i n g a n impervious pad, ( 2 ) mining o r g a t h e r i n g o r e from dumps, (3) crushing t h e ore ( o p t i o n a l ) , and ( 4 ) p l a c i n g t h e o r e on t h e pads. Pads a r e u s u a l l y s i t u a t e d i n f l a t t e r r a i n t h a t is graded t o provide g e n t l y sloping surface f o r drainage (2 t o 5 p c t ) . Next t h e pad s i t e must be l i n e d t o prevent s o l u t i o n seepage l o s s e s . If p l a s t i c l i n e r s a r e used, t h e ground i s covered w i t h a l a y e r of sand o r t a i l i n g The t h a t is r o l l e d t o p r o v i d e a cushion. l i n e r s e c t i o n s a r e l a i d o u t and cemented t o g e t h e r , then covered w i t h sand t o prov i d e a d d i t i o n a l cushioning. Heaps t h a t a r e s u b j e c t e d t o much v e h i c u l a r t r a f f i c a r e o f t e n l i n e d w i t h a s p h a l t . Some pads a r e merely l i n e d w i t h a t h i c k c l a y o r t a i l i n g l a y e r t h a t becomes e s s e n t i a l l y A dam o r berm w i t h impervious when wet. a d r a i n i s c o n s t r u c t e d on t h e downstream end of t h e pad t o d i r e c t t h e s o l u t i o n i n t o a h o l d i n g pond. S i z e d i s t r i b u t i o n of o r e placed on heaps ranges from run-of-mine t o minus Many miners c r u s h t h e o r e 114 i n (6 mm). t o s i g n i f i c a n t l y improve t o t a l recovery and recovery r a t e s . Operating c o s t s a r e , o f c o u r s e , h i g h e r when o r e is crushed. Before an o p e r a t o r s e l e c t s a p a r t i c u l a r p a r t i c l e s i z e , t h e o r e should be t e s t e d t o determine t h e trade-off between minera l recovery and c r u s h i n g c o s t s a t s e v e r a l sizes.
O r e i s s p r e a d on t h e prepared pads by s c r a p e r s , front-end l o a d e r s , t r u c k s , and b u l l d o z e r s ; conveyors and s t a c k e r s can a l s o be used. A unique g a n t r y system has been employed a t one o p e r a t i o n i n N w e

Mexico (22). Since s o l u t i o n p e r c o l a t i o n i n t o a h Z p i s s e v e r e l y a f f e c t e d by any packing from d r i v i n g on t h e s u r f a c e of t h e heap, t h e s p e c i f i c technique by which t h e o r e i s placed i n heaps profoundly inf l u e n c e s p r e c i o u s metal recovery. Techn i q u e s t h a t e l i m i n a t e t r a f f i c on t h e imp l a c e d o r e a r e s t r o n g l y urged. Each l a y e r , c a l l e d a l i f t , is u s u a l l y p l a c e d 5 t o 10 f t ( 2 t o 3 m) deep; t h e r a n g e encountered a t c u r r e n t o p e r a t i o n s was 2 f t (1 m) t o 20 f t ( 7 m). Although i t has long been f e l t t h a t a f t e r solut i o n s p e r c o l a t e through a heap g r e a t e r t h a n about 10 f t ( 3 m) deep, they may become oxygen d e f i c i e n t , t h e r a t e of oxygen d e p l e t i o n has n o t been a c c u r a t e l y measured. Recent experiments w i t h hydrogen p e r o x i d e a d d i t i v e s have shown no inc r e a s e d metal recovery ( 4 0 ) , which would i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e c r i t i c a oxygen content i s n o t a s h i g h a s o r i g i n a l l y envisioned. A f t e r t h e f i r s t l i f t has been leached, e i t h e r i t is removed from t h e pad, o r t h e next l i f t is placed on t o p of i t s o t h a t subsequent a p p l i c a t i o n s of l e a c h i n g solut i o n s w i l l p e r c o l a t e through both. A t h i r d and f o u r t h l i f t can be added l a t e r . Operations u s i n g f i n e o r e s i z e g e n e r a l l y l e a c h w i t h only one l i f t because a t t h e end of t h e l e a c h i n g c y c l e t h e o r e is v i r t u a l l y d e p l e t e d and may a s w e l l be removed. Operations with l a r g e r s i z e d o r e p a r t i c l e s t h a t take longer t o leach g e n e r a l l y u s e m u l t i p l e l i f t s . The s o l u t i o n can t h e n pick up e x t r a m i n e r a l values from t h e lower l i f t s u n t i l they a r e d e p l e t e d without wasting v a l u a b l e pad space. P l a c i n g o r e on heaps s o a s t o prevent I f vehicus u r f a c e packing i s a problem. l a r t r a f f i c packs t h e s u r f a c e i n t o a hard

pan, the leaching solution will not percolate uniformly downward; in fact, stagnant puddles or ponding on the surface may occur. Although packed material can be loosened with a ripper, several companies are considering conveyor systems to eliminate vehicular traffic on heaps. Pushing the material into place with a front end loader after it is dumped on the pad also minimizes surface packing. Where clay in the ore causes percolation problems, a relatively new technique of agglomerating the fines can be used to prepare the ore. Devised by the Bureau of Mines' Reno Research Center, the technique dramatically improved percolation rates, prevented channeling, and improved leaching rates in pilot tests (262) 8 . Several companies have used Tire technique in full-scale operations since 1980. At one of these sites, recovery improved from 37 to 90 pct as a result of agglomeration. The technique involves mixing the dry crushed ore with 5 to 15 lblton (2.5 to 75 glkg) portland cement. . wetting with 8 to 16 wt pct water, mechanically tumbling the wetted feed to effect agglomeration, and curing the agglomerated material for 72 h prior to leaching. The lime in the portland cement reduces the amount of lime that must be added to the leaching solution to maintain the proper pH; see the following section on leaching solutions. Even greater benefits accrue if, instead of using water, the cement-ore mixture is wetted with relatively strong cyanide solution during agglomeration. This cyanide solution can then begin precious metal dissolution while the pellets are curing so that the heap can be leached with water that can be recirculated throughout the leaching cycle. Preliminary tests resulted in reduced cyanide consumptions and reduced leaching time. DUMP LEACHING ORE PWPARATION Although waste rock from either underground or open pit mines is of too low a grade to warrant conventional milling, some gold or silver may be recovered b leaching it. If dumps are leached y

without additional ore preparation or transporting the rock to prepared pads, the operation is termed a dump leach. Caution must be exercised in selecting dumps to insure that no leach solutions can escape into ground water or surface water drainage. A heavy clay soil underlying the dump is necessary to prevent solutions from percolating to the ground water. Oams are generally constructed to trap and hold the leach solutions. IN SITU LEACHING ORE PREPARATION There are no commercial-scale in situ gold or silver leaching operations in the United States. If such leaching is undertaken, ore will probably be prepared by blasting the formation to rubblize it. For shallow deposits [less than 300 ft (100 m] the deposits would be rubblized ) with explosives placed in vertical holes patterned after techniques used for in-10). Deep de9 place copper leaching ( -posits would require blasting methods similar to those employed at conventional underground mines. For instance, if a deposit would be developed by a certain stoping configuration for conventional mining, the same configuration would likely be the most efficient for preparing the ore for in situ leaching. The only difference would be that in conventional operations all of the rock from development openings and ore from the stopes is hauled to the surface, whereas in leaching operations only the 20 to 25 pct of this material would be hauled to the surface to provide "swell" space for the rubblization blast. Certain shallow underground nines in well-fractured formations may be amenable to in situ leaching without any ore preparation. Access to the deposit would be gained via the mine development openings; solution iniection and recoverv wells could be driiled from any of these openings at possible cost savings (by eliminating drilling through barren overburden). Placer gold deposits would probably be permeable enough to permit leaching from vertical wells without blasting (33).

-

-

LEACHING PROCESS Leach Solutions Although it is possible to leach gold and silver with several types of solutions, all current operations use sodium cyanide (NaCN), mixed in water at strengths of about 1 lblton ( . glkg) of 05 solution, or 0.05 pct. Strengths encountered in current operations range from 0 3 to 5 0 lblton (0.15 to 25 glkg). . . . The higher strengths are generally used on ores with high silver content. When the cyanide solution contacts free gold or silver, leaching occurs according - 1) 2: to the following reactions (2, -

to 0 5 glkg) of solution. Although caus. tic soda is more expensive, it reduces maintenance problems caused by lime scale. Some operators claim that both the cyanide concentration and pH should be higher for silver ores than for gold ores, but no trend could be discerned from the engineering data available. Solution Distribution Leach solutions are pumped from a mixing pond to the distribution site after the cyanide and lime (or caustic soda) have been added. Upon reaching the site, the solution travels through a grid of distribution lines (usually 314- to 2-indiam plastic tubing) deployed across the top of the heap or dump. Spray nozzles, sprinkler heads, or wriggler tubing connected at various intervals into the main distribution line apply the solution. Fixed-spray systems are the cheapest and easiest to install; some operators merely punch holes in the distribution lines at fixed intervals to create a ) . Although these require spray (fig. 5 little maintenance, channeling is a common problem. Other operators may attach short feeder lines connected to fixed lawn-type sprinklers, but these do not distribute the solution as uniformly as do other systems and frequently result in channeling. The most common solution distribution system is the oscillating lawn sprinkler, usually referred to as the rainbird sprinkler (fig. 6. This sprinkler gives ) a more uniform coverage than fixed sprays. These sprinklers are, however, susceptible to calcium salt scale, which restricts the flow. When the scale severely restricts solution flow, the sprinklers must be removed and soaked in hydrochloric acid to dissolve the calcium salts. Some operators have experimented with modifying the sprinkler orifice in an attempt to reduce this problem and to distribute the solution without the ring of more concentrated sprinkling that seems common from off-the-shelf sprinklers. Sprinklers are generally operated

and

4Au + 8NaCN

+ O2 + 2H20

The reaction depends strongly on oxygen. which is added by bubbling air through the solution and/or by spraying the solution onto the heaps. When other silver minerals are leached, the silver similarly combines with the cyanide ion except that silver chloride apparently will combine without oxygen (24); for instance,

Leach solutions are effective at pH 9.5 to 11, although both l'ower and higher alkalinities have been successfully used. Lower pH may result in decomposition of the cyanide by hydrolysis or by reaction with carbon dioxide in the air. Low pH can also permit gasification (and hence loss) of the cyanide if the solution contacts natural ground acids (2).Conversely, excessively high alkalinity seems to retard the reaction. The desired pH is maintained by adding lime (CaO) or caustic soda [sodium hydroxide (NaOH)] at about 0.5 to 10 lb/ton (0.25 .

COO or NaOH

To heap

i-t-

Barren solut~on makeup

Vacuum pump
--c

1
De- aeration tower

Pb acetate or Pb nitrate feeder

Zn dust feeder Plate and frome f~lter

Plate and filter

----

--- - -I

FIGURE 10.

- Zinc precipitation recovery system.
galvanic action. Silver in the solution can form the same galvanic couple as does lead with zinc, so that adding lead acetate is often unnecessary for leaching solutions containing appreciable silver. Zinc dust is fed into the solution by a screw-type feeder and cone arrangement. Precipitation proceeds according to the following reaction (12) for gold and silver:

ElSmelting furnace

---------

I Au. Ag
J precipitate

with diatomaceous earth to help remove the suspended particles and prolong filter life. Gold and/or silver precipitation also depends on complete removal of dissolved oxygen. Although this is usually achieved by a Crowe-type vacuum tank and pump, air can also be removed by sand filters and ceramic baffles. Failure to remove the oxygen permits the precipitated gold and silver to be redissolved. Even more importantly. any oxygen present when zinc dust is added forms hydrated zinc oxide, which coats the zinc and prevents further reaction with the solution. Gold and silver precipitation are improved by adding lead acetate or lead nitrate to the solution. The lead forms a bond with the zinc that has a greater galvanic activity than the zinc alone and precipitates the precious metals faster. The lead acetate or nitrate added is about 10 w pct of the zinc dust. Care t must be taken to prevent coating the zinc with too much lead, which retards the

---+

Na2zn(CN),,

+ Au + H + NaOH.

Since the zinc should precipitate gold or silver 1 mollmol, approximately, equivalent amounts of zinc should be added as there are precious metals in the solution. In actual practice, anywhere from 10 to 100 pct more zinc is added than Enough theoretically should be needed. free cyanide must be present to dissolve the zinc so that it can replace the gold in the alkaline compound and so that the resulting zinc alkaline compound remains

i n s o l u t i o n . The accompanying l i b e r a t i o n of hydrogen i s necessary t o c r e a t e t h e reducing conditions f o r precipitation. A f t e r t h e z i n c h a s been added t o and mixed w i t h t h e l e a c h s o l u t i o n , t h e solut i o n i s f o r c e d through M e r r i l l - t y p e press u r e f i l t e r s . T h i s l e a v e s behind t h e g o l d a n d l o r s i l v e r p l u s i m p u r i t i e s . The p r e c i p i t a t e i s removed from t h e f i l t e r and d r i e d f o r smelting. For e i t h e r a l l - g o l d o r a l l - s i l v e r prec i p i t a t e s , a f l u x i s added and t h e preI f both c i p i t a t e i s smelted f o r pouring. g o l d and s i l v e r a r e p r e s e n t i n s i g n i f i c a n t amounts, t h e p r e c i p i t a t e can be f l u x e d and smelted f o r s a l e a s a dor: b u l l i o n . I f s e p a r a t i n g t h e gold and s i l v e r i s d e s i r e d , s i l v e r can be d i s s o l v e d from t h e f i l t e r e d p r e c i p i t a t e w i t h n i t r i c a c i d and e l e c t r w o n from t h e s o l u t i o n . The remaining p r e c i p i t a t e i s smelted f o r o b t a i n i n g i t s gold. As a n a l t e r n a t i v e , g o l d can be s e p a r a t e d from t h e p r e c i p i t a t e by d i s s o l v i n g i t i n aqua r e g i a and t h e n recovered by p r e c i p i t a t i n g i t from t h e aqua r e g i a w i t h o x a l i c a c i d o r by e l e c t r o w i n n i n g it. Charcoal Adsorption Charcoal a d s o r p t i o n systems f o r recove r i n g gold and s i l v e r ( f i g . 11) have been d e s c r i b e d i n g r e a t d e t a i l (21). F i r s t , t h e pregnant l e a c h i n g s o l u t i o n i s pumped from t h e h o l d i n g pond t o t h e p r o c e s s i n g p l a n t , where i t flows through t h r e e t o f i v e carbon columns. Each column cont a i n s g r a n u l a r a c t i v a t e d carbon manufact u r e d from coconut s h e l l s (minus 6 p l u s 1 6 mesh o r minus 12 p l u s 30 mesh). The p r e g n a n t s o l u t i o n can be p e r c o l a t e d down through a f i x e d bed of t h e c h a r c o a l i n e a c h column, o r i t can be d i r e c t e d upward through t h e c h a r c o a l a t a r a t e t h a t maint a i n s t h e c h a r c o a l i n a suspended s t a t e Although columns w i t h f i x e d (fluidized) beds r e q u i r e l e s s c h a r c o a l f o r t h e same amount of s o l u t i o n , they are more suscept i b l e t o plugging from p a r t i c l e s c a r r i e d i n t h e s o l u t i o n than a r e those with f l u i d i z e d beds. Most commercial operat i o n s , t h e r e f o r e , use f l u i d i z e d beds. Flow r a t e s required to maintain a

I
6
AU to refinery

I Recycled rtripplnp solution

FIGURE 11.

- Charcoal adsorption
(3)).

recovery

system (after Potter

f l u i d i z e d c o n d i t i o n range from 15 t o 25 gal/min.ft-2 ( 1 t o 1.7 Lls'cm-Z), dependi n g on t h e s i z e of a c t i v a t e d carbon used. The columns of c h a r c o a l a r e arranged i n countercurrent s e r i e s s o t h a t the fresh s o l u t i o n f i r s t e n t e r s t h e column t h a t c o n t a i n s t h e c h a r c o a l w i t h t h e most adsorbed precious metals. As t h e s o l u t i o n flows through t h e c h a r c o a l , gold and s i l v e r a r e adsorbed onto i t s s u r f a c e . The s o l u t i o n passes through columns containi n g c h a r c o a l w i t h s u c c e s s i v e l y l e s s adsorbed m e t a l s u n t i l i t emerges a s a barr e n s o l u t i o n from t h e l a s t one. After emerging from t h e l a s t column, t h e b a r r e n s o l u t i o n i s pumped t o t h e makeup pond. When t h e f r o n t column of carbon ( o r a p o r t i o n of i t ) reaches i t s d e s i r e d loadi n g c a p a c i t y , t h e carbon i s removed f o r s t r i p p i n g . An i d e n t i c a l amount of carbon i s t h e n removed forward i n each column.

.

and a fresh charge is added to the last. Charcoal loading formerly ranged from 400 to 800 oz of metal per ton of charcoal (14 to 27 g/kg); a recent trend towards lower loading and more frequent stripping commonly results in loading levels of 150 to 250 oz/ton carbon ( 5 to 9 glkg). Factors that affect charcoal loading are solution grade, flow rate, gold-to-silver ratio, solution pH, charcoal type, and impurity concentrations. The loaded charcoal removed from the columns must be stripped of the precious metals. Stripping is accomplished with a hot caustic soda solution. The traditional Zadra process involves soaking the loaded charcoal at 9 ' C in a 1 0 pct 3 . NaOH-0.1 pct NaCN solution for 24 to 48 h (42-43). By adding 20 pct ethanol or methanol to.the solution, the time can be reduced to 5 or 6 h ( 0 . 2) The stripping time and chemical consgption can be further reduced by pressure stripping (22) with a 0.4-pct NaOH solution (without NaCN) at 1 0 to 2 0 C and 50 to 90 lbl 5' 0' in ( . to 0 6 03 . 10 P ) a. Gold or silver are next removed from the stripping solution by electrowinning. Typical electrowinning cells contain a stainless steel anode plus a stainless steel wool cathode for plating the metal.

The steel wool cathode is usually packed to a density of 1 lb/ft (16 kg/m ) and provides a cathode surface area of 10 ft /lb (2 m / g . k) Operating voltages run from 2 5 to 3 5 V . . . Significantly higher voltages can break down the solution and generate hydrogen or ammonia gas, which blocks the plating action. Current ranges from 20 to 30 A, which provides a current density of 3 to 3 5 A/ft . at the cathode. The solution should be retained in the cell at least 15 min, preferably 30, to win the gold and silver. The stripped carbon is regenerated by heating in a kiln or chamber at approximately 700- C (1,300° F) in a reducing atmosphere such as steam. Although carbon can be used two or three times without regeneration, it is simpler to regenerate it each time rather than trying to keep track of which batch needs regenerating. The life expectancy of carbon has not been well documented. Some operators have experienced a 25-pct reduction in adsorptive capacity after eight or nine cycles, while others have found only a 33-pct reduction after 8 or 9 yr of continuous use. A few operators simply sell the gold- and/or silver-laden charcoal for smelting rather than stripping it. That charcoal is, of course, destroyed during the process.

LEACHING OPERATIONS Over 80 operations have been identified that have experimented with leaching, were actively leaching, or were seriously planning on leaching (fig. 1) 2. Although many of these reported activities could not be verified, table 1 presents available information on their status along with a general location, mine name, and operating company. ,The many new permits being granted each year indicate the great interest in leaching but make it impossible to generate a totally up-todate list of operations. The 26 operations for which the most data were available were selected for presentation of geologic and operational parameters. Table 2 provides the location information for each, table 3 the ore characteristics and leaching data, and table 4 the extraction data. While the data contained in these tables will change, it is felt that operators or potential operators can use them to develop a feel for the range of conditions that can be expected at a particular site. The tables can also indicate possible solutions to site-specific problems. A State-by-State summary of leaching operations follows.

T B E 1. AL S t a t e andcounty Arizona: Cochise..
DO..........

- Gold

and s i l v e r heap and dump leaching operations i n t h e Western United S t a t e s Company Mine Contentation......................... S t a t e of +he....................... Mineral Silver.. Cerargyrite... silver.. k l d , silver.. silver.. Cerargyrite, bromyrite. silver.. Gold.......... .do. do......... do......... do......... Cerargyrite... Silver, gold..

.....

Do..........
DO.......... DO..........

Pinal.

........

Yavapai.......
DO.......... DO.

Yuma. Do..........
DO..........

......... .........

Do.......... NA California: Imperial...... Colorado: Costilla.. Gilpin.. Do.......... Mineral.

............
.... ...... ......

Tombstone Exploration. Inc.... S t a t e of Maine Mining Co...... M i n e r d s 7 1 ( S i e r r a Minerals). S i l v e r Ridge Mining-Houston Mining and Resources. Can-American Mining Co........ Vekol Mine DevelopmentSunburst Mining Co. New Jersey Zinc Congress Consolidated Gold.... Walter Statler................ Dr. Eugene Burdick............ Magini Leasing and Contracting Kldebrand D r i l l i n g Red Cloud Mining.............. AMCA Industries. Ltd..........

N......... A........ .
Nicholas, Gambasino, Rattling Boy, Stuck Steel. Dry Hills............................ Vo........... el.......... k........... S i l v e r Clip, Black Rock.............. Congress............................. L i t t l e Jessie........................ North Star........................... Robinson Claim...................... San Mc......... ao......... rs......... Red Cloud............................ S i l v e r Cross.........................

...............
...........

.. ........ ...
... ...

...... ...... ...... ......

ktive. Do. Inactive. Planned. ktive.
DO.

Planned. ktive. Inactive. Planned. Do. ktive. Planned. ktive.

Chemgold, subsidiary of Glemis Gold, Ltd. E 6 B Mining.................. Nuclear and Minerals Corp..... Saratoga Mines, Inc........... Minerals Engineering-Chevron Resources Co. Minerals Engineering.......... Draco Mines, subsidiary of Southern Cross, Ltd. Gold H i l l s Mesa Corp.......... Gold Resources 1nc.-Newport Minerals Inc. Gold Ore, Ltd................. Golden Cycle Carp.-Texasgulf Inc. Merchant-Caithness J o i n t Venture--Venture Mining. National Energy Carp.......... Gold Ray Mining............... Yellow Gold of Cripple Creek, Inc.

Picacho..............................
NA...................................

Gold..........

Do.
Unknown.
DO.

Leaching site........................ Srtg............... saoa..............

Epru............... meis..............
Cowboy Johnson (Corsair).
NA................................... NA................................... Globe Hill...........................
NA................................... Ajax.................................

.. ........ .. ....... ...
............

...
...

.do. .do.. do......... do.........

Active.
DO.

Do.......... Rio Grande.... Teller..
DO..........
DO.......... DO..........

S i l v e r , gold.. Gold..........
NA............ Gold..........

Inactive. Planned. Unknown. Active.
DO.

......

do......... Calaverite....

Conventional. Unknown.

Do.......... Do.......... Do.......... Do..........

S t r a t t o n Estates..................... Midget, Moon Anchor, Red Bird, Yellow Bird, Dolly V, Atlas, Loan Jack. Gold Ray............................. Rtehue............. itnos............. S i l v e r , gold.. Gold.......... do.........

DO. DO.

...

Planned.

Custer.. Va1,ley..

...... ...... .. ... ....

Do.......... Montana: Broadwater.. Jefferson..
DO..........

NA............................ Canadian Superior MiningRanchers Exploration and Development. P h i l l i p s Petrolem-Thunder Mountain Gold, Inc.

N......... A........ .
Yellow Pine, West End, Garnet Creek.. Sunnyside Mine and surrounding claims

do.. Gold, antimony Gold.......... .do.. NA............ Gold.......... S i l v e r , gold.. Gold, s i l v e r . .

... ....... .. .......

Do. Do.

DO.

Phillips..
DO..........

Do.......... Powell. Nevada: Churchill.. Do.......... Clark.........

....... ...

United Minerals............... Lacana-Falcon Exploration..... P l a c e r hex................... P i c k l e Crow Exploration. Zortman Mining Co. -Pegasus Explorations. Ltd. Landusky Mining Co.-Pegasus E x p l o r a t i o n s , Ltd. Mama Bros. Construction..

N......... A........ .
Tourmaline Queen..................... Golden Sunlight Ruby Gulch........................... August. Gold Bug..................... Viking...............................

...... NA...................................
....

......................

Do. Active. Planned. Unknown. Active.
DO.

Gold..........

Planned. Active. Do.
DO. DO.

D..... o..... D..... o.....
Elko..........
DO..........

Esmeralda.. Do.......... Do.......... Eureka........

...

D..... o.....
DO..........

Do.

DO.......... DO.......... DO..........

Bumboldt.. Lander.

......... ... ... .... .......

Do.......... Do.......... Do..........

Desert S t a r Mining............ Fisk and Son.................. Crescent M n i n g , Ltd.......... Big D e l t a Refinery, Inc....... Intermountain Exploration Co.. Tuscarora Associates.......... NNeely Mining C o n t r a c t o r s , Inc. M a b l o Mine S e r v i c e s Co....... Hid-Continent Mining-Sunshine Mines. Falcon Exploration............ Windfall Venture.............. C a r l i n Gold Mining Co.-Newmont Mining. do......................... do......................... Cominco American, Inc... Bauer Metals, Inc............. Lion Mines, Ltd............... Pinson Mining Co.............. P l a c e r Amex-Bunker H i l l Cortez Gold. Minex Resources, 1nc.-~londex Mines, Ltd. New Pass Resources, Inc....... Aaron Mining, he.............

Desert S t a r Gold Hill............................ Rest................................. Dawn Ra......... ee......... n......... NA................................... Tuscarora Mine.......................
NA...................................
NA...................................

........................... Gold, s i l v e r . . Gold.......... ...do......... ...do.. ....... Gold, s i l v e r . . ...do......... ...do.. .......
Gold.......... NA........... Gold.......... .do.. Gold, mercury. Gold.......... do.. Gold, s i l v e r . . Silver.. Gold, s i l v e r . . Gold. .do..

Unknown. Active. Unknown.

Do.
Inactive. Planned. Active. Do.

Nivloc S i x t e e n t o One Properties.....

TnphDvd............ ooa-iie........... Windfall............................. Carlin. Eiootstrap....................
Maggie Creek......................... Gold Quarry Prospect................. Buckhorn............................. Martin' Creek

..

.......

......

N......... A........ .

.........................

... .......

Pinson, Psl............ rbe........... Cortez, Gold Acres. Horse Canyon..... Firecreek............................ New Pass Mill........................ Gold Quartz.........,..,.............

...... .. ......... ....... ..
.......

Do. Planned. Active. Do. Planned. Active. Do.
Do.

Gold, s i l v e r . . .do..

DO. DO.

7

TABLE 1. State and county Lne.... adr.... Mineral....... D..... o..... D..... o..... D..... O..... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Ne..... y...... Pershing...... D..... O..... D..... O..... D..... O..... D..... O..... D..... o..... Soe.... try.... D..... o..... D..... o..... White Pine.. D..... o..... D..... O..... N...... A...... N...... A...... N...... A...... N...... A...... NA . New Mexico: Cto.... arn.... Santa F... e... NA . South Dakota: Lawrence...... D..... O.....

-

Gold and silver heap and dump leaching operations in the Western United States--Continued Mine .................... Copper Canyon,ctBattle...Mountain....... Candelaria Poe ..... .... rj .... ...
~ ~ ~~~

03

..

...........

Company Duval Corp Nerco Metals C........ o....... Houston International Minerals Hugh C Ingle, J....... . r...... Ladd E t r r s s . . . . . . . nepie....... Smoky Valley Mining Co.-Copper Range Co. Ibex Mining Cr....... op....... Golden Arrow, Ic...... n....... Cyprus Exploration... Summa Cr.......... op.......... Great American Gold Co........ Gila Mines Cr........ op....... Buckeye Mining Enterprises.... Ore-Nugget, Ld....... t........ Flying J Mns........ ie........ D Z Exploration Co............ Inland R s u c s . . . . . . . eore....... Lacana Mining, Ic...... n...... Intermountain Exploration C . o. Flowery Gl......... od......... Minerals Engineering C.... o... Gold Creek Corp.-Diamond Silverado Exploration. Gold Creek Cr........ op....... American Selco-Nerco Metals Co. American Pyramid Resources.... Dallas E p o a i n . . . . . . xlrto...... El Plata Mn......... ie........ Volcanic Gold, h...... e...... Aminex Gl.......... od......... Challenge Mining C...... o..... Gold Fields Mining Co Canorex Development.... Cyprus E p o a i n . . . . . . xlrto...... Tiaga Gold Corp.-Wharf Resources.

Brai............... oels.............. Ashby Mine and ml......... il......... Ladd Tungsten Cam......... lis........ Smoky Vle............. aly............ Kytn............... esoe....,......... Golden Arw............ ro............. Nrhmeln............ otubrad........... N............ A........... ............ Gold Con............. rw.............. Gila Cno............. ayn............. Standard Gl............ od............ Florida Canyon gold d p s t . . . . . eoi..... Florida Canyon gold mine and m l . . il.. Nevada P a c k a r d . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Twin Bte............. uts............. Relief Cno............ ayn............ Comstock Ld............ oe............ Flowery, Lady Byn......... ra......... Con-Imperial, Con-Chollar, Dayton.... Diamond Sleao.......... ivrd.......... Treasure Hl............ il............ Alligator Rde........... ig...........

Mineral Gold, silver.. d..... o.... d..... o.... Gl..... od..... Silver, gold.. Gl..... od.....

... ...

Status Active. Do. DO. Do. Unknown. Active. Inactive. Active. Do. Inactive. Active. DO. Do. Do. DO. Do. Do. DO. Unknown. Do. Do. Active. DO. DO. Unknown. Do. Do. Planned. Unknown. Planned. Do. Inactive. Planned. Do.

.........

d..... o.... Gold, silver.. .o. d. d..... o.... d..... o.... Sle.... ivr.... d..... o.... d..... o.... d..... o.... d..... o.... Gl..... od..... d..... o.... Gold, silver.. Gl..... od..... N...... A...... Sle.... ivr....

... .. ....... ... ...

... ... ... ...

...

Lead, silver.. Gold..

N............ A........... ............ N......... A........ . Leopard, Cornucopia.. N............ A........... ............ N............ A........... ............

................

d..... o.... Silver, gold.. Gold, silver.. Gl..... od..... .o. d. Gold, silver.. Gold.. d..... o....

...

........

.. .......

...........

......... .......

... ........ d. . Gilt Edge ............................ ...o.... Anne Cek............. re.............. ...do.......... . .

Eberle, C n i e c . . . . . . . . . . ofdne......... Ortiz Poet............ rjc............

NA Not availabl,

TABLE 2 . company name C a n - h r i c m Mining Co..... Tombstone Explore.tion, Inc. S t a t e of k i n e Mining co... Congress C d w o l i d a t e d Gold. uildebrand m i l l i n n vekol Mine n v e l o p i n t Sunburst Minlng Go. Gold Reaourees In=.-Newport Minerals. Ine. P h i l l i p s Petroleum-Thunder M u n t a l n Gold. Ine. Canadian S u p e r i o r MiningP.DEher8 E x p l o r a t i o n and Developlant. State county District

- Location d a t a f o r key o p e r a t i o n s
heation Sec 15, T 20 S, R 22 E Sece I 1 and 12. T 20 5, R 22 E
T

Mine

type of o p e r a t i o n

... ... ........ ... ...

...

kizona.. do..... do..... do..... do..... do.....

. ... ...

Cochiee... do.....

do..... Ya~apai...

rum......
Pinel..... Teller.... Valley....

:olorado.. Idaho..

...

...

do.....

...do.....
Jefferson.
Phillip..

Joderground, heap. ........ Dry Hills.......... *en p i t end waste ..... Gontention. rack, heap. rock. heap.. ...do ......... Sec 16. T 20 S. R 22 E......... S t a t e of Haine. ...do ............. 300 t o n l d ....... ........ Congress...... 6,000 tonlmonth. See 23, L O R 6 Martinez...... A Sees 1 1 14, T 5 R 12 W . San mrcos.. ... ...do ............. N .............. Stlmfield..... See 34. T 9 S, R 2 E.......... Vekol .......... ... ............. N .............. do A Wen p i t . heap .... 10.000 tanld... . Cripple Creek. Sec 18, T 15 S , R 69 W ........ N ............................ Sunnyside n i n e A o t h e r claims. Plountain.
last=

Size of operation 1.000 t o d r k . . . . 2;000 t a n l d

KGi
40 12 8
N A

M

N,

U

,

Na............

and

N,

5 9
N A

Yellow Pine (Stibnite). mitehall (Cardwell). W t t l s Rocky

See.

2 and 11. T 18 N , R 9 E..

Yest End. & m e t Creek. Colden Sunlight. Ruby Oulch.... August, Gold Bug. Windfall...... Carlin

60

%ntlmna...
Z o c t u m Illning k . - P e s a s u e

E ~ p l o r . t i ~ ~ Ltd. s. I m d u a k y Mining C0.-Pegreus E x p l o r a t i o n s , Lcd. Windfall Venrure C a r l i n Gold HLniog C O . ~ Nemont U i n l w .

...

do.....

Sccs 19. 29, and 20, T 2 N , R 3 Y. Secs 7 and 17, T 25 N , R 25 E. S e a 15 and 22. T 25 N. R 24 1

4 20 1,500.000 t o n l y r 20 12 1 66 4
6

...do.....
Aevlld.. dd..... do..... do.....

...

do..... Eureka

.......... ...do..... ......... ...do..... h r i c m Seloo-Occidental ...do..... Minerals Gorp.
Gold Creek Gorp

Bill P~LEC~ c o r t e r Gold. ,d . O c c i d e n ~ a lU i n e r a l s Gorp.Cmdelaria Partners. smoky Valleu U i n i o c ca.CO. c o p i e r &a Golden Arrow, Inc D Z Expl~rntion Co

........... ... ... ... ... ... *-Bunker ... ... ...................... ... ... ...
do..... do.....

-

...o..... d

............ ...do.....

Challenge Mining Co Cold Pleld.

........

........ ...do ............. NA .............. ...do ............. 1,500 tonld.. ... Bootatcap....., Yaate r o c k , dump.. RA .............. .,.do ......... See. 2, 3, 10, end T 36 do..... R 49 E. M .............. See 13, T 27 N , R 47 E ........ Gorte* ........ Waste rock, heap.. u n d e r . . .. c o r t t ...do ......... Sec 36,TT328 N,R R 46.......... Coldd eheres.... Open p............. HA .............. E ........ do..... ...do i t , heap.... 8.000 tonld..... See 5, 35 E Can laria PUner-1.. . Candelaria.... Project. ...do ............. 7.000 tonld..... Plounrdn 18, T 10 N. R 44 E ........ Smoky Valley.. ...do ............. 500,000t otonlyr... 15,000 n l y r . . R 48 E ......... Golden Arrow.. Nye.. ..... c l a r k S t a t i o n . Sec 22. T 2 ...do ............. Nevada Paekard, Pershing.. S e a 28. 29, 32, a d 33. RDcheste...... T 29 34 E. . ...do ............. 6ao.000 m i c e Pine N ............ A 50.000 tonlyr... ...do..... whlre Pine.... See 19, T 16 R 58 E........ Tceeure
Eureka.... do.....

~ynn

........ ..........
z........

See 2, T 18 N , R 53 E See 15. T 35 N, R SO E
11,

......... ........
N,

M
I40 ZOO 9 5
NA

N.

NYt.......

Rwnd

See

N,

N. R

to&=.

N.

Hill..

34
I

Her blexicc

catcon.... s a n t a Pe.. N A

Mining Co......

... ...

do..... do.....

........ ............

n,go11on (Cooney). Old P l a c e r (&ti=). N A

Secs 32 and 33, T 10 S, R I9 L

Sees 19 and 20. T 13 N. R 8 E.

Eberle, Confidence. O r t i r Project.

open p i t m d waste rock. heso. open p i t , heap..

..

34.000 tonlyr... 750,000 t o n l y r . . 500 t o n l d

48

....... N A

4 5 6

mabase and g c a n i r c
NA NA

..............

Native gold end p y r i t e .

...............................Free ...............................

gold.... ~crargycir~, browrife. (o.idi;ed rcllurides). Gold ( o x i d i r e ,

f
o r e grade, orlrsn 2.0 4.9 .05

TABLE 3.

- Ore l i n e r a l i x a t i o n and

process e h s r n e r e r i a r i c s

prep.ration: P.rlicl' s i r e , ir - 16 N A Ag 1.112 Ag Ron
Ag - 1

n,CN
cone,

Ibltor

NA
5.0 1.0 1.0 1.5 1.0 N A 1.0 N A 1.0

N A N. A

....... ......
.......
83 15- 20 50 .prink1cr.. Holas i n pipe: f s rainbird .priot1er.. Fixed sprays.. Hole. i n p i p e , rainbird

tion P a t e , I" rlllln .fr2 " A A A

--

-

.I

-

NA

NaOH.. do..

... ... ..
...do.. .. ......

A

8 9 10 11 12

Plow b r a e c i r o v e r l a i n by i n r c r bcddcd ..od.rona., .hales. do m l o l i t e and limestone. ~ e l l a r hekef R . m e e c i a t e d Greyson s h a l e . Spokmnc Gold h (Preeubri."). .
Sheer zones I n a y e n i r e

... ........ .........
.325.032.027,266.028.06

NA.

N. A

I 3 y.$ a n I4 15 16 17 I8 I9 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

d o l d t c . Hubvrg Gold (Ulbri."). u r y .hales and milt~rooe.. cold. m r c u r y , l a b e r r * b u n t d m R. ( S i l u r i a n ) . , m r c e i s t e d l i m e s t o n e and a h a l e . Gold Roberrs m u n r a i n m. (si1uri.n). Uu.tooa. laberr. m u n r a i n R. do , (Silurl*").

........... ... ............................... ........ m. .........
do
w t i v e gold. ~ilver. do

.068 h ROll (80 pet -6) Ag Ron .5 .06 h (-24) .055 h RCU ,896 Ag (-24) (I .04 h P I .Ol
h

.3 .5 1.5 1.5 .8 1.0 .25

-

NA

...... .......

A N A I40 400 800 I50 Sprlokleca..... Painbird sprinklers, 50-fr Sprinklers.. A
(2
center..

cao...... cao......

... ...do ..........

15

-

-

-314

SelfInduced. Lime.....

Pending

........

A

.
A

......... ... ........

O .028 h RW .05 .05
h aOH

N A .4 .6 N A N A 1.0 2.0 2.0 N A 2.0 N A 1.4

M

.......

&OH

A

m e c c l a r e d l i r s r o n c and s h a l e . do , RoMrr. mumrain R. ( S i l u r i a n ) . C.odrl.ria a h a l e - e e r i e l t i z e d and A r g e n t i t e . ara r g i l l i r e d (Laver T r i a s s i c ) . gentoj.rosif# Uelded r h y o l i t e r u f f (niocene)... c o l d , hdealr. Phyolite

... ........

h aOn
NA

1

Silicified siltatane

............ ......................... .............
and r h y o l i t e

.........

,045 h .08 1.7 .I2
h
Ag

-318

...do.. .. N ....... A NaOH.. ...
do.. Li.e.....

A 2,200 N A 10- 75 N A 400 N A N A mgdad w i g g l e r s 36-ft centers. Painbird sprinkler.. d...........

Gold, s i l v e r . .

aon
'-518 '-0.075 -1-114

... ..
...do.. ..

............. Oold, N ............................... A
Umestone over a h a l e hecclared quartzite rich pyrite and l i m n i r e .

Argentite. cerergyrice.. Subllcroscooic gold. l S i l v e r chlo;ic silver..

...

A

.
A

I"
m

A "
v.r.

HIOH.....

Senninger mbbler.. do

N A

.......

... ..........
do

A 30

Sprinkler......

A 60

9u.rrr .inter

....................
Poll

Gold, l r n u t e amount of silver. cold. silver..

Llr.....

... ..........

u
N A
*oL .v.ilable.

2.0

Y O .H or lime.

Pun of d m .

Ver.

Varlz

-

TABLE 4. - k a c h solution treatment
Effluent Leach Recovery technique Charcoal oreeicAtate booster NA NA 0.3 4 5 -1.0 .Ol - .03 .O16 NA NA NA
ozlron

Mineral extraction

Elecrrovinning configuration current, A NA NA NA NA 30 NA 125 NA NA

Wtal
ecovery.

grade, ozlron

........ ........ ........

Zine preeipitstion. do

... .............. NA ..........
Lead acerare

50
90 35 Ag, 50 A" 0-50 Am 35 A " 00 ozld 50 hu NA NA 50 5-40 5-80 5-40 5-80 85
Ag,
hu lig,

PCt

6 7
E -

NA
.05 NA NA

9 LO

NA

20 to 30 galkin. 10 to 15 PEt. NA I00 gall min. NA 15 t o 20 gallron. 30 p t . . c..

I

NAP NaOH 20 pcL methanol. Nitric acid Ethanol and NaOH....

1 k 1 . 3 by 1 by 1 ft. NA

Charcoal adsorption Zine precipitation. Chereosl adsorption

+

1

........ ........

.............. cell ..........
..............

.........

NA Dowing design..

Zinc precipitation. ~ e a d acerate

NAP NAP Up ro 350

NaOH at 220' P r 90 psi (shipped t o Cortee operarion). NA

5 cells, 30 in2 each.

00 (20 per cell)

...do.......
Carbon adeorprion..
I

..................
160-200 NA NA 5 cells

NA NA

NAP NA NAP NAP

.........

A"
A"

14 IS 16 17

NA 10 p c . . c.. NA NA NA I5 to 20 pEt. .O21 30 pet....

........
........

zinc precipitation. Carbon adsorption..

.OZO- .030

NAINA
NA NA

.......... ......... 400NAP NA . .do .............. ......... NAP ......... 400-500

10 pet alcohol a t 155' F. Directly smelted.... 20 pet alcohol.. NaOH at 220' F r 90 psi. 1 pcr NaOH at 240' I r 60 psi.

....

.............. ..............
.........

5 pet..... zinc precipitation.

NA NaCN-NaOH ar 180' P. Precipitate cast in anathe. facility as d. 0 C bars. NA NaCN-NaOH Cast ae dorh bara.. 1 pct NaOH, 0.1 pet NaCN, 20 per sleohol.
1 pcL NaOH, 0.1 per NaCN. 5 pcr alcohol. Smelted and refined (American Smelring and Refining Co.).

.................. ..............

2 tanks; each 3 5 by 3 by 3 . ft in parallel. NA 3 cells in parallel. 28 by 36 in. NAP......

NA NA 00 (20 per cell) 22.5 NA 70

60 Au NA 65 Au 50 Au NA 0-70 Au NA

.......

NAP NA NA NAP NA 58 80 65 69 82 85

21 22 23 24

Var.

1.0

30 pet.... N.. A. 5 pct..... NA

.....

........
........

do Charcoal adsorprior NA Add Na S to precipitate for A g , =her C adsor~tion for A. " Carbon adsorption..

... ..............

................. .........

Lead nitrate NAP Leed acetate NAP

.........

NAP NA NAP

.................. ...........
.
2 eells each with I8 cathodes.

r\p

Am
Ag

Nd

Ag, Au

50-400 per cell NA

........
NA Not ~vailsble. NAp No

-

90 Am, 70 Ag

original operations. Plans are being made to resume underground mining to obtain new ore when the dump material is exhausted. The material will probably be crushed to boost the recovery. The State of Maine Mining Co. also manufacturers small zinc-precipitation processing plants for leaching operations. At the nearby Contention Mine (also including the Grand Central and Flora Morrison Mines), Tombstone Exploration, Inc., is removing overburden and mining low-grade ore over the original underground working ( 6 . Most of the rock 1) can be mined by scrapers after it is ripped with bulldozers. The rock is crushed and presoaked with cyanide solution before being agglomerated into lowstrength pellets. Pellets are formed by a unique inclined conveyor designed by the company. The material is then placed on a pad for leaching in 6,000-ton heaps (5 x lo6 k ) g. Geologic investigations have delineated ore for at least 20 yr of operation. Between the State of Maine Mine and the Contention Mine, Can-American Mining Co. is operating a leaching system for silver at the Dry Hills Mine. Although most of the leach material has been obtained from old mining waste rock, underground development is underway to provide new ore for the heaps. Ore is crushed to minus 3/16 in (0.5 cm) before being loaded on the heaps. The recovery averages 50 pct after 2 wk of leaching in spite of manganese contained in the ore. Also near Tombstone, Silver Ridge Mining Co. has conducted heap leaching tests on ore from the old Nicholas and Gambasino Mines. The leaching tests were not promising because the manganese makes the silver somewhat refractory, and poor solution percolation occurred in the test heaps. Consequently ore will be processed in conventional mills. In the late 1970'9, Minerals 71, Inc., trucked dump material from several silver mines around Tombstone to its site for heap leaching. A million-ton ( . 09 x l o 9 kg) heap was apparently leached

0

.
I

0

Utah Arirono
8 Active o Plonned or inactive

Caloroda New M e r m

8

0

0

Leaching operotion locations in t e United States. h ARIZONA Arizona has been second only to Nevada in hosting solution mining operations. The latest figures show that 14 operations had been strongly considering heap leaching (table l, and 6 of these have ) provided enough data to warrant inclusion in tables 2 to 4 . A heap leaching operation has been established near the Congress Mine shafts, which originally supported underground gold mining. Rock from the waste-rock dumps is being crushed and hauled to the leaching pad, where three separate heaps are being leached. After rock from the original waste piles is exhausted, the company is considering opening another underground mine adjacent to the existing shafts to provide ore for leaching. Near Tombstone, the State of Maine Mining Co. has established an operation at an old underground silver mine of the same name (11). Feed for the heaps is obtained from waste rock dumps from the

FIGURE 12. -

for 3 yr b e f o r e production stopped. Since t h e o p e r a t i o n s h u t down i n February 1979, engineering d a t a are currently unavailable. Vekol Mine Development Co. has e s t a b l i s h e d a heap l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n a d j a c e n t t o t h e Vekol Mine, an o l d underground s i l v e r mine l o c a t e d on t h e Papago I n d i a n R e s e r v a t i o n s o u t h of Casa Grande. Rock from mine dumps is placed on a prepared pad f o r leaching. This o p e r a t i o n h a s been on-line s i n c e 1978. A pad with a c a p a c i t y t o hold 25,000 t o n s ( 2 3 x lo6 kg) of o r e i s being prepared f o r heap l e a c h i n g of an exposed s i l v e r o r e body t h a t crops o u t n e a r t h e a d i t of t h e o r i g i n a l mine. About 3 t o 5 m i l l i o n t o n s (2.7 t o 4.5 x 10' kg) of o r e could be removed from t h i s o r e body by s u r f a c e mining. Near Humboldt, a n experimental heap l e a c h i n g pad was e s t a b l i s h e d a t t h e L i t t l e J e s s i e Mine a d j a c e n t t o i t s waste rock dump. The rock was placbd on t h e heap without crushing. The grade of t h e r e t u r n s o l u t i o n never reached an a c c e p t a b l e c o n c e n t r a t i o n even when i t was merel y recycled. P a r t of t h e problem may have been t h a t t h e high c l a y content i n t h e rock (due t o d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of t h e s c h i s t ) caused channeling. Another reason may have been t h a t t h e p y r r h o t i t e exhausted t h e cyanide. N f u r t h e r l e a c h i n g o a c t i v i t i e s a r e planned. E a s t of Salome an experimental operat i o n was e s t a b l i s h e d on t h e Robinson Claims a t t h e s i t e of an opencut g o l d mine t h a t had been l o c a t e d n e a r o l d underground mines. Rock i n and around t h e p i t was r e c o n s t i t u t e d i n t o a 4,000t o n (4 u lo6 kg) heap f o r a n experiment where l e a c h i n g was c a r r i e d o u t over seve r a l months t o determine l e a c h i n g paramet e r s and t o t e s t equipment. Plans a r e being made t o s t a r t b l a s t i n g and h a u l i n g o r e from t h e opencut f o r a commercial operation.
A t t h e s i t e of t h e o l d San Marcos g o l d mine, e a s t of Wenden, a s m a l l l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n has been e s t a b l i s h e d . Dump m a t e r i a l from t h e mine was placed on a

s m a l l pad and leached. An experiment was c a r r i e d o u t t o determine t h e a m e n a b i l i t y of t h e o r e t o agglomeration. R e s u l t s of t h e experiment look promising, and p l a n s a r e being made t o expand t h e work. S e v e r a l o t h e r o p e r a t i o n s t h a t conside r e d l e a c h i n g but have n o t provided engin e e r i n g d a t a o r have closed b e f o r e s i g n i f i c a n t engineering d a t a could be gathe r e d i n c l u d e t h e Montana Mine n e a r Ruby, t h e King Tut Mine, t h e Pope Mine n e a r Willow Beach, t h e Octave Mine n e a r Yarn e l l , and s e v e r a l mines around Oatman. CALIFORNIA Although m c h gold has been mined i n C a l i f o r n i a , most has been recovered from p l a c e r s by dredging, h y d r a u l i c mining, s l u i c i n g , and panning. S o l u t i o n mining i s n o t i c e a b l e by i t s s c a r c i t y . Only a l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n run by Chemgold a t t h e Picacho Mine n o r t h of Yuma, AZ, could be l o c a t e d . A t t h a t o p e r a t i o n , o r e i s placed i n s u c c e s s i v e l i f t s on one b i g pad and s o l u t i o n i s a p p l i e d by "ponding." Gold F i e l d s Mining Corp. has discovered a p o s s i b l y l e a c h a b l e deposit--called the Mesquite deposit--in I m p e r i a l County, b u t no t e s t s have y e t been run. I n a d d i t i o n , Anaconda has conducted agglomeration and l e a c h i n g t e s t s on t a i l i n g from t h e Darwin M i l l , Inyo County. CLRD OOA O The s o l u t i o n mining i n d u s t r y i s n o t s o w e l l developed i n Colorado a s i t i s i n Arizona and Nevada; only t h e Gold Resources-Newport Minerals Inc. o p e r a t i o n provided enough d a t a f o r i n c l u s i o n i n t h e engineering tables. Since about 1976, t h e Gold ResourcesNewport Minerals Inc. j o i n t v e n t u r e has operated an open p i t mine-heap l e a c h i n g complex on Globe H i l l . Although many of t h e C r i p p l e Creek d e p o s i t s a r e t e l l u r i d e (and hence n o t amenable t o d i r e c t cyanide l e a c h i n g ) , t h i s mine i s i n an o x i d a t e d zone of t h e b r e c c i a from t h e C r i p p l e Creek volcano. A 10,000-ton/d ( 9 x 10' kg/d) mine s u p p l i e s o r e f o r heaps. The (14-cm) o r e is b l a s t e d using 5-5/8-in

blastholes on 10-ft ( 3 4 centers and is leached as run-of-mine. Leaching operations extend from May to November. Texasgulf. Inc., joined Golden Cycle Corp. in a 3-yr, $3 million exploration program (29) to evaluate gold mining potential T f Golden Cycle's properties around Victor. One of the projects was to renovate and explore the underground Ajax Mine. The work was interesting because of the plan to try in situ leaching with chloride and iodine solutions for the telluride minerals. Since the mine follows a very steeply dipping vein structure, it was hoped that the leach solution could be applied through horizontal drill holes following the vein's strike and collected in basins prepared in the drift after flowing down through the fracture system (fig. 1) 3. Problems in dissolving the telluride gold ores and in collecting the pregnant solutions caused the experiment to be abandoned in 1979. The companies recently announced plans for conventional mining and milling ore from the Ajax Mine.
Packers7 lnject~on boreholes Raise

Dreco Mines, subsidiary of Southern Cross, Ltd., conducted a 9,000-ton (8 x lo6 kg) heap leaching test between Del Norte and Torres in the eastern San Juan Mountains during 1981. Permits are being acquired for a 1,500-ton/d (1.4 x 106 kg/d) open pit mining-heap leaching operation. Another heap leaching test was conducted by E & B Mining near San Luis during the summer and fall of 1982. It is not known whether the company plans a commercial operation. Exploration drilling for ore body delineation has been conducted at the Gold Ray Mine between Copper Mountain and Mineral Hill ( 0 . 3) Favorable ore for leaching has beendiscovered; this ore is oxidized into free gold, unlike the usual Cripple Creek area tellurides. A leaching plant was constructed for assembling at the site. Yellow Gold of Cripple Creek. Inc., has adopted plans to explore the Rittenhouse Mine and refurbish various drifts and Part of the plan calls for shafts ( 2 . 3)

Drift

I
I

Concrete tank SECTION VIEW tank END

- VIEW -

FIGURE 13.

-

In situ leaching t s a t Ajax Mine. et

heap l e a c h i n g t h e m a t e r i a l i n two mine dumps l o c a t e d on t h e p r o p e r t y . It i s n o t known i f t e s t s have been conducted on t h e material. Recent news a r t i c l e s have p u b l i c i z e d t h e m r k at Saratoga Mines' s i t e s n e a r C e n t r a l City. N f u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n i s o a v a i l a b l e a t t h i s time. IDAHO S e v e r a l o p e r a t i o n s i n Idaho have conducted tests on t h e heap l e a c h i n g potent i a l of l e a n o r e i n and around previous mining d i s t r i c t s . Information on t h e s e t e s t s and any f u l l - s c a l e a c t i v i t i e s res u l t i n g from them has been very s c a n t ; only two a r e d i s c u s s e d . Canadian S u p e r i o r Mining, Ltd., has been conducting e x p e r i m e n t a l heap leachi n g of o r e s from t h e S t i b n i t e a r e a s i n c e 1974. Although t h e Yellow Pine Mine was o r i g i n a l l y a n open pit o p e r a t i o n f o r antimony and t u n g s t e n , g o l d was encountered a t one end of t h e p i t . Recent d r i l l i n g has d e l i n e a t e d two nearby o r e bodies--the West End and t h e Garnet Creek--that app e a r f a v o r a b l e f o r leaching. In the f a l l of 1978, Canadian S u p e r i o r conducted a heap t e s t on 500-ton (0.45 x lo6 kg) crushed o r e ; two o t h e r t e s t s were conducted d u r i n g t h e summer of 1979. These t e s t s l e d t o a l e a c h i n g p l a n whereby t h e o r e would be mined from two open p i t s , placed i n t o 45,000-ton (41 x lo6 kg) heaps, and leached. Production began l a t e i n 1982 a f t e r completion of an Environmental Impact Statement by t h e U.S. F o r e s t Service. Canadian S u p e r i o r had a l s o obtained t h e r i g h t s t o e x p l o r e and develop a gold mini n g p r o p e r t y owned by Thunder Mountain Gold, I n c . , i n t h e Thunder Mountain d i s t r i c t n e a r McCall (31). A f t e r Canadiad Superior t e r m i n a t e d T t s agreement w i t h Thunder b u n t a i n , a new agreement was reached w i t h P h i l l i p s Petroleum f o r developing t h e p r o p e r t y w i t h Coeur dlAlene Mines Corp. as t h e o p e r a t o r . The gold a p p a r e n t l y occurs a t a shallow depth t h a t would permit open p i t mining. The operat i o n would probably be p a t t e r n e d a f t e r

p l a n s developed f o r t h e proposed operat i o n i n nearby S t i b n i t e , where o r e would be heap-leached and recovered by c h a r c o a l adsorption.
MONTANA

Heap l e a c h i n g f o r g o l d and s i l v e r i s r a p i d l y emerging i n Montana. Of t h e seve r a l o p e r a t i o n s t h a t have expressed int e r e s t , 2 have reached f u l l commercial p r o d u c t i o n , and 1 is conducting l a r g e s c a l e f i e l d tests. The two o p e r a t i o n s a r e on o p p o s i t e s i d e s of a peak i n t h e L i t t l e Rocky Mount a i n s (15, 5 ) . Landusky Mining, Inc., and Zortman Mining, Inc., are both owned by Pegasus Gold, Ltd. One mine i s a few m i l e s n o r t h of Landusky n e a r t h e o l d Aug u s t and Gold Bug Mines. A open p i t n mine produces 24,000 ton/d (22 x lo6 kg/d) t o supply t h e heaps. Blastholes a r e d r i l l e d on a 10- by 8 - f t (3- by 2-m) p a t t e r n t o d e p t h s of approximately 40 f t (12 m). I 5 e o t h e r mine i s n o r t h of Zortman n e a r t h e o l d Ruby Gulch Mine. Rere two open p i t s produce 17,000 ton/d (15 x lo6 kg/d) of ore. B l a s t h o l e s a r e on a n 8- by 8-ft (2- by 2-m) p a t t e r n . Together t h e two o p e r a t i o n s were e s t i m a t e d t o cont a i n 50 m i l l i o n t o n s of r e s e r v e s a t o r e g r a d e s f a v o r a b l e f o r heap l e a c h i n g and a r e a n n u a l l y producing 40,000 oz (1.2 x lo6 g) of gold and 90,000 oz (2.8 x lo6 g) of s i l v e r . The Golden S u n l i g h t P r o p e r t y 6 m i l e s e a s t of Whitehall hosted e x t e n s i v e underground mining f o r g o l d through t h e As p a r t of i t s Heavy Mete a r l y 1950's. a l s Program, t h e Bureau of Mines and othe r a g e n c i e s conducted d e t a i l e d economic a n a l y s i s of conventional mining on t h e p r o p e r t y (1). The p r e s e n t o p e r a t o r , Placer-Amex, f i r s t experimented with l e a c h i n g on a 26,000-ton (24 x lo6 kg) t e s t heap. The heap w a s s e g r e g a t e d i n t o f i v e segments (each c o n t a i n i n g a d i f f e r e n t s i z e d i s t r i b u t i o n of o r e ) t h a t provided s o l u t i o n f o r f i v e s e p a r a t e c h a r c o a l a d s o r p t i o n u n i t s . The heap was t h e n expanded t o 40,000 t o n s (35 x lo6 kg) f o r a f u l l production t e s t . Feed f o r t h i s e f f o r t was run-of-dne rock. High c l a y

content in the ore caused percolation troubles; the heaps had to be periodically ripped. These troubles led to a recent decision to construct a conventional mill complex for processing the ore. Heap leaching has been dropped from immediate consideration. In 1978 a heap leaching test was carried out on ore from the Tourmaline Queen Mine east of Boulder. Approximately 25,000 tons (23 x lo6 kg) were satisfactorily leached. A 30,000-ton (27 x lo6 kg) heap was constructed, and caustic was added for a new test to be conducted when the snow melted in the spring of 1979. When this test also proved successful, ore was obtained from an open pit mine for a commercial-scale heap. Since recovery from this heap was lower than anticipated, the ore was crushed and replaced on the heaps for leaching in 1981. Approximately 3 million tons (2.7 x l o 9 kg) of ore graded at 0.07 ozlton (0.024 g/kg) gold were delineated from open pit mining. NEVADA Nevada is currently the center of heap leaching activity. Numerous operations have been or are actively considering leaching. The Smoky Valley, the Cortez, and the several Carlin operations have all been well documented in mining literature. Enough data are available on 11 of these operations to warrant their in. clusion in tables 2 to 4 The Carlin Gold Mining Co. operation pioneered solution mining systems targeted for low-grade, disseminated, oxidized gold ore bodies. Commercial heap leaching operations began in 1971, following laboratory and pilot scale tests. About 10,000 tons (9 x lo6 kg) of lowgrade oxidized ore were leached each month between April and October. Four leaching pads were eventually placed in operation. Although the pads were generally leached about 7 days before replacing the ore, solutions were applied until their gold grade dropped below 0.015 ozlton (0.005 glkg). Although the ore from this mine is now processed in a

conventional mill, portions of the ore body are amenable to future heap leaching (35). Exploration activities have uncovered two other ore deposits near the mine--the Maggie Creek and Gold Quarry Prospects--portions of which will probably be heap-leached. Contracts have been awarded to construct mining and heap leaching facilities at the Haggle Creek Deposit, and approximately 2.5 million tons (2.3 x lo9 kg) of ore had been leached at the mine by the end of 1980. Carlin also has been dump-leaching at the Bootstrap Mine north of its Carlin pit. The Bootstrap Mine was a surface operation from the late 1960's until 1978. A sizable waste rock dump on the property is being leached. The dump was originally placed on a compacted ancient lakebed, which makes an impervious pad suitable for leach solution containment. The dumps are merely leveled to facilitate solution distribution. Numerous small, underground mines around Round Mountain produced gold from the turn of the century until the late 1930's. Now Smoky Valley has established an open pit mining and heap leaching operation near Bound Mountain (5. 41). By 1977, the operation was producing 85,000 oz (2.6 x lo6 g) of dore bullion per year consisting of two-thirds of gold and one-third of silver. To achieve this rate, about 8,000 tons (7 x lo6 kg) of 6 ore and 7,000 tons ( x lo6 kg) of waste rock are mined per day. The ore is crushed, placed on a pad, and leached in one lift. The spent ore is then rinsed and moved off the pad to make room for the next batch of ore. Five pads are in continuous operation; four are being leached and one is being reconstituted at any given time. Three new pads were constructed during 1980. Another leaching operation that is well documented is Placer-Amex's Cortez Mine The Cortez Mine opened as a surface operation for a conventional mill Although the ore body was exin 1969. hausted by spring of 1973, the mill continued to process ore trucked from the nearby Gold Acres Mine. Guring mining

-

o p e r a t i o n s , marginal o r e (below m i l l g r a d e of 0.08 o z / t o n r0.03 g / k g ] ) was s t o c k p i l e d . When t e s t s run on t h i s mater i a l i n d i c a t e d t h a t i t might be s u i t a b l e , a heap l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n began i n 1971. I n 1976 t h e conventional z i n c p r e c i p i t a t i o n m i l l c i r c u i t was converted t o an a c t i v a t e d carbon a d s o r p t i o n system. Placer-Amex a l s o operated t h e nearby Gold Acres l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n . Although c u r r e n t l y i d l e , t h e o p e r a t i o n has been 1) w e l l p u b l i c i z e d ( 3 . The s i t e of a n e a r l y mine, Gold Acres was open-pit-mined beginning i n 1973 t o f e e d t h e Cortez m i l l a s a replacement f o r t h e d e p l e t e d Cortez Mine ore. When t h i s o p e r a t i o n proved s u c c e s s f u l , a new l e a c h i n g p l a n t was cons t r u c t e d a t t h e Gold Acres s i t e . It was one of t h e f i r s t , i f n o t t h e f i r s t , c o w m e r c i a l a p p l i c a t i o n s of t h e c h a r c o a l ads o r p t i o n system i n t h e country. The h i g h c l a y c o n t e n t of Gold Acres o r e c r e a t e d lower p e r c o l a t i o n r a t e s and r e c o v e r i e s than were obtained from t h e nearby Cortez Mine. The clayey Gold Acres o r e was n o t s u i t a b l e f o r l e a c h i n g from l i f t s placed on t o p of each o t h e r , and p e r i o d i c r i p ping was needed t o prevent ponding. Furthermore t h e o r e was h i g h l y carbonaceous and t h u s very r e f r a c t i v e below t h e oxidized zone. Although approximately 5 m i l l i o n t o n s (4.5 x 10' kg) of o r e had been heap-leached a t Gold Acres and Cort e z by t h e summer of 1977, t h e only curr e n t p l a n s c e n t e r around l e a c h i n g waste dump rock from t h e i d l e Gold Acres prope r t y . Cortez has a l s o announced plans t o develop t h e nearby Horse Canyon Deposit, but i t is a n t i c i p a t e d t h a t conventional m i l l i n g r a t h e r t h a n heap l e a c h i n g w i l l be used. South of Eureka, a heap l e a c h i n g opera t i o n has been i n production s e v e r a l years. Near t h e o r i g i n a l Windfall Mine underground workings, Idaho Mining Co. has produced o r e from an open p i t mine t o feed i t s heap l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n . The o p e r a t i o n i s one of two t h a t u s e s a pondi n g technique f o r s o l u t i o n d i s t r i b u t i o n o n t h e pads ( f i g . 8 ) . Ore i s hauled from t h e mine t o t h e pad a r e a and stacked. Berms a r e l a i d o u t on t h e s u r f a c e of t h e pad t o c o n t r o l t h e s o l u t i o n flow. Since

t h e o r e i s a sandy dolomite, e s s e n t i a l l y c l a y f r e e , p e r c o l a t i o n r a t e s remain acceptable. Idaho Mining a l s o opened a new p i t on t h e p r o p e r t y i n a zone t h a t cont a i n s some c l a y . It w i l l be i n t e r e s t i n g t o s e e i f adequate p e r c o l a t i o n can be maintained on o r e from t h e new p i t . In January 1980, Windfall Venture purchased t h e o p e r a t i o n from Idaho Mining. O c c i d e n t a l Minerals Corp. d e d i c a t e d i c s C a n d e l a r i a o p e r a t i o n i n November 1980. A t one t i m e many underground s i l v e r mines were o p e r a t i n g i n t h e C a n d e l a r i a d i s t r i c t . Two of t h e s e mines--Lucky H i l l and M t . Diablo--are being s t r i p p e d and open-pit mined t o provide feed f o r a l a r g e heap l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n . Although t h e o v e r a l l o r e grade is good, t h e mangan e s e oxide c o n t e n t makes i t somewhat ref r a c t o r y . A number of experiments were c a r r i e d o u t a t t h e s i t e , r a n g i n g from 500-lb (200-kg) " b a r r e l " t e s t s up t o a p i l o t heap l e a c h on 11,000 t o n s (10 x lo6 kg) of ore. Based on t h e s u c c e s s f u l pil o t t e s t , p l a n s were made t o mine t h e two d e p o s i t s a t a r a t e of 8,000 t o n s (7 x lo6 kg) p e r day along w i t h 16,000 t o n s (14 x 106 kg) p e r day waste rock. Stripping began i n t h e s p r i n g of 1980, and t h e f i r s t s i l v e r was poured i n t h e f a l l of 1980. I n 1981, i t s f i r s t y e a r of product i o n . t h e o p e r a t i o n produced 1.7 m i l l i o n oz (53 x lo6 g) of s i l v e r and 9,200 oz (0.28 x lo6 g) of gold. The company pref e r r e d not t o d i s c l o s e engineering d a t a from t h i s s t a g e of development. I n June 1982, t h e o p e r a t i o n c l o s e d because of t h e decline i n s i l v e r prices. I n 1983 Nerco Metals bought Occidental Minerals and reopened t h e C a n d e l a r i a o p e r a t i o n . American-Selco and O c c i d e n t a l Minerals combined on a s u c c e s s f u l heap l e a c h i n g experiment on A l l i g a t o r Ridge about 60 m i (96 km) northwest of Ely. F i r s t a 5,000t o n (4.5 x lo6 kg) heap c o n t a i n i n g 0.18 o z / t o n (0.06 g/kg) gold was leached f o r 2 months, w i t h a n 80-pct recovery. Next t h e same amount of o r e was leached a f t e r the fines were agglomerated, followi n g t h e Bureau's technique ( s e e s e c t i o n on o r e p r e p a r a t i o n ) , and t h e same recovery was obtained i n only half a month. Following t h e s e s u c c e s s f u l t e s t s ,

c o n s t r u c t i o n began i n t h e s p r i n g of 1980, and t h e o p e r a t i o n i s n w producing about 60,000 oz (180,000 g ) of gold p e r year.
D Z E x p l o r a t i o n h a s been conducting experiments at t h e Packard Mine i n a n o l d s i l v e r mining d i s t r i c t n o r t h e a s t of Lovel o c k f o r two seasons. The f i r s t experiments were on run-of-mine-sized m a t e r i a l from t h e waste dumps. Since t h i s materia l had weathered, enough f i n e s were crea t e d t o r e s t r i c t p e r c o l a t i o n through t h e r e c o n s t i t u t e d heaps. A t t e n t i o n focused i n 1979 on t h e Bureau's agglomeration t e c h n i q u e a s a means t o improve percolat i o n . To t e s t t h e technique on t h i s r o c k , o r e w a s crushed t o t h r e e sizes--2 i n ( 5 cm), 718 i n (2 cm), and 9/16 i n (1.4 cm)--and agglomerated u s i n g 10 l b (4.5 kg) of cement per t o n (90 kg) of o r e . Cement was added t o t h e crushed o r e by a unique auger arrangement. Water s p r a y w a s d i r e c t e d a t t h e mixture, which t h e n tumbled down a n i n c l i n e t o complete (2-m) high t h e agglomeration. An 8 - f t heap c o n t a i n i n g s e v e r a l hundred t o n s of e a c h s i z e m a t e r i a l was t h e n leached. Based on t h e r e s u l t s and a d d i t i o n a l d r i l l i n g , f u l l - s c a l e production was exp e c t e d t o begin i n 1981, b u t no updated information is available.

n o r t h e a s t of Ely, t h e R e l i e f Canyon prope r t y being t e s t e d by Lacana Mining northe a s t of Reno, Dee Gold Mining Co.'s Bould e r Creek p r o p e r t y n e a r C a r l i n , G i l a Mines Corp.'s mine n e a r R e v e i l l e , t h e B o r e a l i s Mine managed by Houston I n t e r n a t i o n a l Minerals Division of Tenneco, Inc., t h e Tuscarora o p e r a t i o n t h a t bel o n g s t o Tuscarora A s s o c i a t e s , and t h e Gold Crown Mine i n t h e Current Creek d i s t r i c t operated by Great American Gold co. The l a r g e number of l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n s emerging i n Nevada each y e a r makes i t imp o s s i b l e t o a c c u r a t e l y t r a c k a l l of them. S i n c e t h i s i s n o t t h e purpose of t h e r e p o r t , o t h e r Nevada o p e r a t i o n s a r e not discussed. NW MEXICO E S o l u t i o n mining o p e r a t i o n s have been r e l a t i v e l y r a r e i n New Mexico; only t h r e e have been i d e n t i f i e d . One of t h e s e i s now i n a c t i v e , w h i l e two a r e c u r r e n t l y producing gold. A l l t h r e e a r e l i s t e d i n t h e engineering d a t a tables. Gold F i e l d s Mining Corp. has brought t h e O r t i z Mine, 35 m i l e s (56 km) southeast of Albuquerque, back i n t o production w i t h a heap l e a c h i n g o p e r a t i o n (2). The a c t i v i t y stems from a mining and l e a c h i n g p l a n submitted i n 1978 t o t h e New Mexico H e a l t h and Environment Department. Ore i s being produced from a 3,000-tonld (2.7 x 106 kgld) open p i t mine, which i s bei n g dewatered by a s e r i e s of p e r i p h e r a l wells. A f t e r t h e o r e i s crushed t o l e s s t h a n 318 i n (9.5 mm), i t i s placed on a pad w i t h a t r a v e l i n g g a n t r y system. Pebb l e lime i s added t o t h e o r e t o c o n t r o l pH y e t minimize s c a l e problems t h a t a r e normally encountered when "milk-of-lime" is added t o t h e makeup s o l u t i o n . Gold recovery has averaged 78 p c t w i t h a high of 87 p c t s i n c e t h e o p e r a t i o n opened. During t h e mid-1970's i n t e r e s t revived i n t h e o l d Cooney mining d i s t r i c t around Mogollon. Mine dumps from t h e Confidence Mine and s u r f a c e v e i n o r e from t h e E b e r l e Mine were t e s t e d by Challenge Mining Co. f o r leachability with favorable results. The company has developed a 2-yr p l a n f o r heap l e a c h i n g a t a r a t e of 34,000 t o n / y r

Pinson Mining Co. opened a major open p i t mining and m i l l i n g complex i n HumApb o l d t County d u r i n g 1981 (39-40). proximately 500,000 t o n s (0.45 x 109 kg) o f m a t e r i a l below t h e 0.05-oz/ton m i l l i n g c u t o f f grade were s t o c k p i l e d f o r f u t u r e leaching. Pads were b u i l t i n 1982 f o r s e v e r a l heap l e a c h i n g t e s t s i n v o l v i n g agglomerated and unagglomerated o r e , s c a l e inhibitors, oxidizers, solution applicat i o n techniques, e t c . These p i l o t t e s t s t h e n formed t h e b a s i s f o r d e s i g n i n g a f u l l - s c a l e heap l e a c h i n g f a c i l i t y t h a t began o p e r a t i o n i n December 1982. T e s t s a r e now being conducted on m a t e r i a l from t h e nearby P r e b l e o r e body.

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Other o p e r a t i o n s t h a t have been d i s c u s s e d by t h e .mining p r e s s i n c l u d e t h e U n i t e d Hearne Resources, Ltd., o p e r a t i o n property n e a r Hamilton, t h e G e t c h e l l recently purchased by F i r s t Mississ i p p i Corp., t h e Bald Mountain p r o p e r t y

(31 r 106 kglyr) ( 8 . 1) After 2 yr this material will be deseted, which will require underground mining in the old Eberle workings. An estimated 300,000 tons (0.27 x 109 kg) grading 4 oz/ton (1.4 glkg) silver and 0.08 ozlton (0.027 glkg) gold remains in the mine. In 1975, Canorex opened a 500-tonld (450 x 103 kgld) open pit gold mine to provide feed for a heap leaching operation ( ) 7 -. Two adits in the ore body had proven ore reserves of 1 million tons (0.9 x 109 kg), grading 0.23 oz/ton (0.08 glkg) gold and 0.63 oz/ton (0.21 glkg) silver. A plant was constructed to handle solution from the heaps. The operation apparently went well for a while but has not produced recently. SOUTH DAKOTA Two heap leaching operations have been identified in South Dakota. One

functioned at the pilot-scale level in 1980; the other has applied for the permits necessary to construct a pilot facility. Cyprus Exploration is operating the pilot-scale leaching test at the Gilt Edge property 4 miles (6 km) southeast of Lead in the Black Hills. At the site of early mining activity, a pad and solution ponds were constructed for a 1,900-ton (1.7 x 106 kg) heap. Further information is unavailable at this time. Tiaga Gold Corp.-Wharf Resources, Inc., has delineated a 5lnillion-ton ( . x 109 45 ore body at 0 0 oz/ton (0.014 glkg) .4 kg) gold on their Anne Creek property 4 miles (6 km) southwest of Lead. Plans are being made to heap-leach the ore with a system patterned after the ZortmanLandusky operations in Montana.

PERMITTING REGULATIONS FEDERAL REGULATIONS The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) has been the Federal regulatory action recently attracting the most attention from miners ( 4 . Aimed 3) at improving resource conservation and recovery through land use control, the act establishes a Federal-State permit system for hazardous waste management. Originally the mining operators were considered to be producers of hazardous waste and operators of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. So many problems arose in attempting to apply the regulations to mining operations, however, that an amendment was passed in October 1980 to exempt mining from the law while studies were conducted. It is safe to assume, however, that this act will eventually impose some control. Since the material on a leaching pad and any leachate emanating from it could be considered hazardous wastes, leaching operations will fall under the purview of the act. Ground water monitoring programs will be required to assure that the uppermost aquifer will not be harmed. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with administering the permit and enforcement provisions of the act, EPA intends to pass on the permit system to the States. EPA is also charged with implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act and, particularly interesting to in situ leaching operators, its Underground Injection Control Program. This program establishes a permitting system for five classes of wells by which fluids are injected or disposed into the ground. EPA also regulates surface discharge permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program, which may affect a potential leaching system. Operators should contact the closest regional EPA office for clarification on permits required (table 5. )

30 TABLE 5 - Environmental Protection Agency regional offices issuing hazardous . waste and surface discharge permits Office V Region I Enforcement Division 1st International Bldg. 1201 Elm St. Dallas, TX 75270 (214) 749-1983 Region VIII Enforcement Division Suite 900 1860 Lincoln St. Denver, Co 80203 (303) 837-3868

I

Coverage New Mexico Texas

Office Region IX Enforcement Division 215 Fremont St. San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 556-2320 Region X Enforcement Division 1200 6th Ave. Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 442-1220

Coverage Arizona California Nevada

Colorado Montana North Dakota South Dakota Utah Wyoming

Idaho Oregon Washington

Leaching operations targeted for U S .. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or other Federal lands will probably require an environmental assessment before permission to proceed is granted. A prospective operator should clear this through the district office of the Pedera1 agency controlling the land. A helpful discussion of regulations and procedures is contained in "Forest Service Current Information Report No. 14," available at Forest Service offices. In addition, recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations (43 CFR 3800) on Surface Management of Public Lands Under U S . . Mining Laws went into effect January 1, 1981, for the purpose of preventing undue degradation and requiring reasonable reclamation of BLM lands disturbed by any mining. Depending on the level of activity and size of the disturbance, a plan must be filed and sometimes approved by BLM before mining can proceed. STATE REGULATIONS Permits required for leaching vary considerably from State to State. Table 6 lists a few key permits and gives the associated State agencies to be used as initial contacts. These contacts can provide details on which permits are required and the regulations and requirements pertaining to each.

It is interesting to note that California and Colorado have moved toward consolidating permit requirements into one office. In California, the central contact is the Department of Economic and Business Development, which provides any new business venture with a complete list of necessary permits and directions for obtaining them. The county commissions assume leadership in California during the permitting process. Colorado has developed a voluntary process, tailored primarily for large operations, whereby a company can request a Joint Review of a proposed mining project. If a company requests this Joint Review, the State coordinates interests of all involved Federal, State, and local agencies and develops a statement of responsibilities and problems that must be resolved and a schedule of activities during the regulatory time period. Companies that do not wish to use the Joint Review process may proceed as before, by interacting with the permitting agencies. a list of which can be obtained from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (table 6 ) . For the other States where leaching is practiced, table 6 lists the prime agency contacts.

TABLE 6 .
Agency Department of N a t u r a l Resources Mineral Bldg., Fairgrounds Phoenix, AZ 85007

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S t a t e permitting agencies

I

(602) 255-3791
or S t a t e O f f i c e Bldg.

415 West Congress, Room 190 Tucson, AZ 85701 (602) 882-5399
S t a t e Mine I n s p e c t o r 705 West Wing C a p i t o l Bldg. Phoenix, AZ 85007

' 1
Mining code and regulations. Must be n o t i f i e d of commencement o r suspension of o p e r a t i o n . Regulates h e a l t h and s a f e t y . Water d i s c h a r g e permit. Nw w a t e r supply e permit

Act i o n ARIZONA Booklet on laws and regulations.

I

Remarks

(602) 255-5971
Bureau of Water Q u a l i t y C o n t r o l Arizona Department of Health 1740 West Adams Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 255-1252
Department of Water Resources 99 E a s t V i r g i n i a Phoenix, AZ 85004

.

(602) 255-1550
Department of Economic and Business Development 1120 N S t . Box 1499 Sacramento, CA 95805 CALIFORNIA A l l necessary permits. Provides a l l p e r m i t t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n f o r any business.

(916) 322-1394
Department of N a t u r a l Resources Executive D i r e c t o r ' s O f f i c e 1313 Sherman St.. Boom 723 Denver, CO 80203 CLRD OOA O J o i n t review process. The j o i n t review process i s an opt i o n a l c o n s o l i d a t e d review proced u r e f o r major energy and m i n e r a l r e s o u r c e development p r o j e c t s . Operator may e l e c t t o o b t a i n permit d i r e c t o r y and d e a l w i t h p e r m i t t i n g

(303) 839-3337

I

I

Colorado permit directory.

I

Department of Lands Bureau of Minerals S t a t e House Boise, I D 83720

(608) 334-3569
Manager Source C o n t r o l S e c t i o n Water Q u a l i t y Bureau D i v i s i o n of Environment Deapartment of Health 6 Welfare S t a t e House Boise, I D 83720 Waste w a t e r t r e a t ment review. Review, no permit.

(208) 334-4059

TABLE 6.

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S t a t e permitting agencies-Continued Actiok

'Agency Department of S t a t e Lands Becl~tion Division Hard Bock Bureau Capitol Station Helena, M 59601 (406) 449-2074 Department of Eealth and Environmental Sciences Water Quality Bureau Room 206 Cogswell Bldg. Helena. W 59601 (406) 449-2406

I

Renarks

Administrator Division of Mineral Resources Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Nye Bldg. 201 South F a l l St. Carson Citv. NV 89710 (702) 885-ii68 Bureau Chief Health and Environment Department Environmental Improvement Division Water Pollution Bureau Box 968 Santa Fe, Nn 87503 (505) 827-5271 Land Hanagement S p e c i a l i s t Department of Agriculture Conservation Division Surface Mining Program Anderson Bldg. Pierre, S D 57514 (605) 773-4201 Department of Health Division of Environment and Health Joe Foss Bldg. Pierre, S D 57514 (605) 773-33h1 Department of Water and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality Joe Foss Bldg. Pierre, S D 57514 (605) 773-3351

Water discharge permit.
NEVADA Mining permit......

If over 36,000 tonlyr and/or 5 acres disturbance; otherwise small mines' exclusion.

Also w i l l provide a l i s t of S t a t e and Federal permits required before a mining permit can be granted.

I

1 Ground water qual- l Administer the Water puality.. Con.
i t y permit. t r o l Commissions re&lations.

NEW MEXICO

S U H DAKOTA OT Reclamation permit.

Lead agency; coordinates input from other agencies.

Solid waste dispos a l permit.

Water q u a l i t y permit.

33

LEACHING PROBLEMS AND RESEARCH
PERCOLATION Several problems hamper broader application of leaching methods for recovering gold and silver. A prime problem is the predominance of silt- and clay-size particles in some ores that prevent uniform leaching solution percolation through the ore heaps. A high clay content will cause ponding and/or channeling, which blocks auch of the ore from contact with the solution. Since small particles leach faster and more thoroughly than large ones, operators frequently crush the ore before leaching. Unfortunately crushing also can produce the extremely fine sizes that promote blockage and channeling. Even without crushing, some ores have a strong tendency to disintegrate into clay through natural weathering agents and/or action of leaching solutions. Tests should be run on the ore to determine the percolation rate and metal recovery for various size distributions. Bureau of Mines research on agglomeration techniques provides the most promising solution to clay problems; this was described in the section on Leaching Operations and in references 27 and 28. The several operators who have tried this technique have observed rather spectacular inceases in percolation and recovery rates. Tombstone Exploration's Contention Mine agglomerates its ore, as do the Alligator Ridge, Packard, and Candelaria operations. greatly boost the costs of preparing the As previously menore for leaching. tioned, it is imperative that laboratory tests be conducted to determine the most economical crushing size range.

Solution temperature is a significant factor in leaching reactions. The chemical reaction between gold and silver and cyanide proceeds much faster in warn solutions. Below 10- C (50' F) the reaction is appreciably slower than it is at normal summer operating temperatures. In practice, however, m e t operators work in cold weather until the solutions begin to freeze. Depending on its location, a mine can lose several months per year of potential leaching time in cold weather.

A successful research program on methods to heat solutions for leaching would provide a valuable improvement in the technology. A solar heating system would seem to be an ideal candidate since most leaching operations are located in arid regions with little cloud cover. Saline evaporation ponds may also be a possible source of heat for leaching solutions.
The only reported research on solution heating is by Smoky Valley at its Bound Mountain operation, where a 25-millionBtu/h (7.3-million-W) submersible kerosine heater installed in the leach solution pond has proven successful (26). SOLUTION LOSS

An extremely low permeability (tight) matrix presents a problem to leaching operators, again because the solution cannot reach the minerals. Weathered and oxidized ores generally leach better than unoxidized ones because oxidation breaks down an impermeable matrix. Heavier powder factors during mining may fracture the ore better, increasing the solution's access. A fresh, tight ore may, however, yield its values only if it is crushed and ground to a small enough size to expose the wtallic mineral grain. Crushing and in particular grinding, however,

At most leaching sites. 10 to 25 pct of the leaching solution is lost by evaporation. Since the leaching solution must contain high oxygen levels and since this is most easily achieved through spraying. evaporative losses seem inevitable. Important research topics would be to determine this loss and to measure dissolved oxygen in solutions as a function of the application method. Besides the evaporative losses, gangue minerals in the ore consume both the

cyanide and the lime or caustic soda. Consumption may run as high as 25 to 50 pct. Since the interactions between cyanide solutions and most gangue minerals are well established, no new research is recommended for cyanide leaching. For those deposits that exhibit high cyanide consumption, research on alternative lixiviants may be warranted. CALCIUM SALT SCALE Calcium salts in distribution lines pose a major problem with most systems, particularly those that use lime for alkalinity control. At least one operation also experienced problems with barium salts clogging spray nozzles. The mineral scale prevents operators from using some small-orifice components in their distribution systems, such as the drip irrigation tubes used in copper leaching operations, and is particularly troublesome in sprinklers; frequent soaking in hydrochloric acid is about the only cure. Several operators mix a scale inhibitor, such as the Surfo-A35 organic phosphate marketed b Baroid, with the leaching soy lution to keep the calcium minerals dissolved. Some additives, however, occasionally form colloidal suspensions that plug filtration systems. Bagdad wigglers, first used to distribute solutions at the Bagdad copper mine, offer a possible means to combat calcium salt scale. Simple to construct (fig. 7), the large-diameter tubing will remain open much longer than the small orifices of oscillating sprinklers and is easy to free from lime scale. Many operators have experimented with NaOH instead of lime to control pH with considerable reduction in the rate of lime scale. The relative costs must be carefully weighed, however, since NaOH is more expensive. RESEARCH ON NOVEL SOLUTION MINING METHODS The Bureau of Mines has actively investigated new techniques in recovering and processing of gold and silver ores.

Principal efforts have been directed toward the subeconomic, lower grade ores that are unminable and/or untreatable using traditional methods. Although major gold and silver projects have been investigated by various Bureau Research Centers, most current activity is concentrated at the Reno and Twin Cities Research Centers. In Situ Leaching In situ (in-place) leaching offers attractive benefits for producing metals at a minimum of capital investment and operating cost, with low environuental degradation. The technique has not been applied to gold and silver ores, primarily because of fear over public reaction to using cyanide solutions where ground water contamination is possible. Only one operation is known to have experimented with in-place gold and/or silver leaching, and that was with a noncyanide leach in an old underground mine. (See section on Colorado operations.) In this mine it was theorized that solutions could be injected into the fracture zone comprising the "vein" and that these solutions would migrate down the zone to drifts where they could be collected. To test the theory, water was injected into the vein and collected in a drift in a poured concrete trough (fig. 1) 3. The experimenters concluded that the trough (and drift) were not wide enough to encompass the vein-fracture system; excessive solution losses occurred when the trough was bypassed. The experiment was never expanded to verify this conclusion because other metallurgical laboratory tests failed to resolve the chemistry of leaching that particular ore. Several companies have expressed a willingness to try leaching gold and silver in-place. Successful commercial leaching operations for uranium and copper have demonstrated that in-place leaching is economically feasible and environmentally safe. If a system can be developed for in-place-leaching gold and silver that will be publicly acceptable, small and/or low-grade deposits can be mined more cheaply and easily than

previously possible. The Bureau of Mines Twin Cities Research Center recently funded a contract study to evaluate the feasibility of such a system and to develop a conceptual design for it. The most likely system involved blasting via vertical holes drilled from the surface to fragment shallow ore bodies, followed by solution application from the surface (36). After the solution percolated down through the fragmented ore, it could be pumped to the surface from vertical recovery wells or from underground solution collection drifts. Such a system would have a very good discounted-cash-flow return on investment with payout of less than 1 yr. Underground mines offer potential for in situ leaching. Ore would be blasted and left in stopes for leaching. After percolating through the rubblized ore, pregnant solution would be pumped to the surface for extraction of the metals. Placer deposits offer intriguing possibilities for in-place leaching, and several years ago the Bureau conducted laboratory tests on cyanide placer deposits (9. some future date it is reasonAt able to assume that placers could be leached by vertical injection and recovery wells like those used for uranium in roll-front deposits. Leach Farming
A patent granted in 1973 (23) describes a technique for leaching frzble exposed ore bodies in place or conventionally mined ore that is placed in extremely shallow heaps. With this technique the ore is cultivated with standard farm equipment to loosen it to a depth of 6 to n. Leaching solution 12 in (15 to 30 a ) is added to the loosened ore. which is periodically cultivated and kept moist for the next several days. This cultivation assures uniform contact between leaching solution and the ore and prevents downward escape of the solution.

The leached ore, which still contains the pregnant leaching solution, is pushed by bulldozer or front-end loader to a sluice box where it is slurried and pumped to a settling pond. After the spent ore has settled in the pond, the pregnant solution is pumped from the pond to a recovery plant for removing the metals. Meanwhile, the next layer of ore is being cultivated as the cycle begins again. Although the field experiments to verify this method were not conducted on gold and silver ores, laboratory experiments on them and field experiments on other ores worked well. Thin-Layer Leaching Thin-layer leaching, somewhat a variant of the leach farming method, was developed for the copper mines of South America (3-4). - - It offers potential for leaching gold and silver ores, particularly if combined with the Bureau's agglomeration process. The first step in the method involves crushing the ore; minus 112 in (1.2 cm) was sufficient for the copper ores tested. Next, a concentrated leaching solution is mixed with the ore in a rotating drum until the ore contains 10 pct of solution. The ore is then placed in piles while the solution reacts with the ore. After 24 h the ore is transported to an impervious pad, where it is spread out in layers approximately 3 ft (1 m) deep. The ore is then sprayed with dilute leaching solution andlor water until the dissolved metals are rinsed out. This rinse solution is collected in ponds in the same manner as with any other heap leach and then pumped to a recovery plant for metals extraction. The damp tailing is then removed from the pad and piled in the disposal area.

Gold and s i l v e r leaching operations have blossomed i n many mining d i s t r i c t s of t h e Western United States. Most a r e a s s o c i a t e d with old "vein" mines where t h e elements were deposited i n f r a c t u r e s n e a r volcanic or o t h e r igneous a c t i v i t y . A few l a r g e operations have a l s o been est a b l i s h e d on oxidized sedimentary deposi t s containing very f i n e , disseminated gold. I n surveying c u r r e n t operations, over 80 were found t h a t had conducted t e s t s o r were a c t i v e l y leaching on a commercial s c a l e . S u f f i c i e n t engineering d a t a were obtained f o r 26 of these operations to j u s t i f y t h e i r inclusion i n t a b l e s t h a t cover l o c a t i o n , geology, heap configurat i o n , i n f l u e n t s o l u t i o n s , e f f l u e n t solut i o n s , and extraction.

One of t h e f i r s t problems encountered by a hopeful leaching operator is obtaini n g the necessary permits from Federal, S t a t e , and frequently l o c a l agencies. To provide a s t a r t , key Federal and S t a t e agencies a r e i d e n t i f i e d i n tables 5 and 6. The main problems hampering leaching operations a r e unfavorable mineralogy and poor s o l u t i o n percolation owing t o high c l a y content. Cold temperature e f f e c t s on gold and s i l v e r s o l u b i l i t y and rapid lime buildup i n t h e d i s t r i b u t i o n system a l s o severely hamper the operations. Rec e n t and ongoing Bureau research and continued work a t various mining operations a r e helping improve t h e techniques.

REFERENCES

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21. k i n e n , H. J., D. G. P e t e r s o n , and R. E. Lindstrom. Processing Gold Ores Using Heap Leach-Carbon Adsorption Methods. BuMines IC 8770, 1978, 21 pp. 22. Hickson, R. J. Heap Leaching P r a c t i c e s at O r t i z Gold Mine, Santa Fe County, New Mexico. Ch. 18 i n I n t e r f a c i n g Technologies i n S o l u t i o n Mining, ed. by W. J. S c h l i t t and J. B. Hiskey (Proc. SKE-SPE Int. Solution Mining 1981). Symp., Denver, CO, Nov. 18-20, L i t t l e t o n , CO, Soc. Min. Eng. AIME, pp. 209-222. and J L. Lake . 23. Lankenau, A. W., ( a s s i g n e d t o Hazen Research, Inc., Golde n , CO). Process f o r Heap Leaching Ores. U.S. Pat. 3,777,004, Dec. 4 , 1973.
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12. Dorr, J. V. N., and F. L Bosqui. . Cyanidation and Concentration of Gold and 2d ed., 1950, S i l v e r Ores. McGraw-Hill, 511 pp. Open P i t Gold Min13. Duncan, D. M. i n g a t Cortez. Ch. i n Colorado Mining A s s o c i a t i o n 1974 Mining Yearbook. Colorado Mining A s s o c i a t i o n , Denver, CO, 1974, pp. 92-94. 14. Duncan, D. M, . and T. J. Smolik. H w Cortez Gold Mines Heap Leached Low o Grade Ores a t Two Nevada P r o p e r t i e s . Eng. and Min. J., v. 178, No. 7, 1977, pp. 65-69. 15. Engineering and Mining J o u r n a l . Heap Leaching Revives Montana Gold D i s t r i c t . V. 182, No. 1, 1981, pp. 90-91. 16. P e l l e t i z i n g Aids Tombstone Leaching Operation. V. 182, No. 1, 1981, pp. 94-95. 17. Escapule, C. B., L. W. Escapule, C. B. Escapule, and D. D. Rabb. Heap Leaching and S i l v e r Recovery a t t h e S t a t e of Maine. Ch. 19 i n I n t e r f a c i n g Technolo g i e s i n S o l u t i o n Mining, ed. by W. J. S c h l i t t and J. B. Hiskey (Proc. SHE-SPE I n t . S o l u t i o n Mining Symp.) Soc. AIME, L i t t l e t o n , CO, 1982, pp. 223-230. 18. Eveleth, R. W. Eberle Mine: A Heap Leaching Case History. Min. Eng., v. 31, No. 2, 1979, pp. 138-140. 19. Hedley, N., and T. Howard. Chemi s t r y of Cyanidation. American Cyanimide Co., Wayne, N J , 1968, 54 pp. 20. Heinen, H. J.. D. G. Peterson, and R. E. Lindstrom. Gold Desorption From Activated Carbon With A l k a l i n e Alcohol Solutions. Ch. 33 i n World Mining and Metals Technology, ed. by A. k i s s (Proc. J o i n t Min. and Metall. I n s t . of Japan-AIME, Meeting, Denver, CO, Sept. 1-3, 1976). AIME, New York, 1976, pp. 551-564.

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25. L e f l e r , C. A. Leaching P r a c t i c e s a t Smoky Valley Mine. Ch. 6 i n Gold and S i l v e r Leaching, Recovery and Economics. ed. by W. J. S c h l i t t . W. C. Larson, and J. B Hiskey . (Proc. S E S e s s i o n s on SoM l u t i o n Mining and Economics of Precious Metals, AIME Annu. Meeting, Chicago. IL, Feb. L2-26, 1981). Soc. Mln. Eng. AXME, L i t t l e t o n , CO, 1981, pp. 51-56. E., and J. A. 26. McClelland, G. E i s e l e . Improvements i n Heap Leaching To Recover S i l v e r and Gold From Low-Grade Resources. B a n e s R I 8612, 1982, 26 pp. 27. McClelland, G. E.. and S. D. H i l l . Heap Leaching Gold-Silver Ores With Poor Percolation Characteristics. Ch. 5 i n Gold and S i l v e r Leaching, Recovery and Economics, ed. by W. J. S c h l i t t . W. C. Larson, and J. B. Hlskey (Proc. SME S e s s i o n s on S o l u t i o n Mining and Economics of Previous Metals, AIME Annu. Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 22-26, 1981). Soc. Min. Eng., L i t t l e t o n , CO, 1981, pp. 4350.

28. McClelland, and J. A. E i s e l e . Leaching Operations als I n d u s t r y . B a n PP.

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38. S c h e i n e r , B. J., D. L. Pool, J. J. Sjoberg, and R. E. Lindstrom. E x t r a c t i o n of S i l v e r From R e f r a c t o r y Ores. B a n e s R I 7736. 1973, 11 pp. 39. S k i l l i n g s , D N., J r . Pinson Min. i n g Co. Marking F i r s t F u l l Year Production. S k i l l i n g s ' Mn. Rev.. v. 71, No. 28. 1982, pp. 8-10.
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32. Yellow Gold Signs Mineral propertFAgreement. Nov. 25, 1981, 1 P. 33. Nichols, I. L., H B. S a l i s b u r y , . and B. K. , S h i b l e r . Laboratory Evaluat i o n of Some F a c t o r s i n Cyaniding Gold Placers. BuMines R I 7559, 1971. 12 pp. 34. Nordhausen. E. A. 'She S t a t u s of P e r m i t t i n g Regulations as A f f e c t i n g Hyd r o m e t a l l u r g y I n d u s t r y . Pres. a t Arizona Conference of AIME Annual Meeting, Tucs o n , AZ, Dec. 8, 1980; r e p r i n t e d i n S k i l l i n g s ' Mln. Rev.. v. 70, No. 4. 1981, pp. 10-12.
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41. White, L. Heap Leaching W i l l Proore' B u l l i o n f o r duce 85,000 Oz/Year of Smoky Valley Mining. Eng. and Mn. J., v. 178, No. 7, 1977, pp. 70-72. . 42. Zadra. J B. A P r o c e s s f o r t h e Recovery of Gold From A c t i v a t e d Carbon by Leaching and E l e c t r o l y s i s . BuMines RI 4672. 1950, 47 pp. 43. Zadra, J B., . A. L. Engel. and 8 J. Heinen. . Process f o r Recovering Gold and S i l v e r From Activated Carbon by Leaching and E l e c t r o l y s i s . BuMines RI 4843, 1952, 32 pp.

by F. F. Aplan. W. A. McKinney, and A. D. Pernichele (Mini Symp. SHE-AIME Annu. Meeting, D a l l a s , TX, Feb. 25-27, 1974). AIME, 1974, pp. 253-267.

36.
P.
G.

P o t t e r , G M, . . C. K Chase, and . Chamberlain. F e a s i b i l i t y of I n

APPENDIX.--GOLD

AND SILVER LEACHING BIBLIOGWHY

Addison, R., and H. R. P r i e t o . Reagent Optimization i n a Gold-Silver Cyanide v. 65, No. 1 , P l a n t . Min. Cong. J . , 1979, pp. 29-33, 65. American I n s t i t u t e of Mining, Metallurg i c a l , and Petroleum Engineers, Oregon Section. F i f t h Gold and Money Session and Gold Technical Session. Proc. 1975 Pacific Northwest Metals and Miner. Conf., P o r t l a n d , OR, Apr. 6-9, 1975, 201 pp. S i x t h Gold and Money S e s s i o n and Gold Technical Session. Proc. 1978 Metals and Miner. P a c i f i c Northwest Conf., P o r t l a n d , OR, May 15-17, 1978, 145 pp. American Metal Climax, Inc. Recovery of S i l v e r From E l e c t r o l y t i c Copper Refine r y Slimes. U.S. Pat. 3,658,510, Apr. 25, 1972; B r i t i s h Pat. 1,343,638, Jan. 16, 1974. Anderson, S. J. (assigned t o Chemsep Corp.). Method of Preparing Ores of Copp e r , Zinc, Gold, S i l v e r , Platinum o r Othe r Non-Ferrous Metals f o r Subsequent Leaching o r Other Hydrometallurgical Processing; U.S. pat; 3,958,985; b y 25, 1976. Anderson, T. N . , 3. C. P a r r , L. C. Stone, and D. Metcalf. Gold and S i l v e r Assay Methods i n t h e Mining and Metallurgy I n d u s t r y . Ch. 12 i n Gold and S i l v e r Leaching, Recovery and Economics, . ed. by W. J S c h l i t t , W. C. Larson, and J. B. Hiskey (Proc. S E Sessions on SoM l u t i o n Mining and Economics of Precious Metals, AIME Annu. Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 22-26, 1981). Soc. Min. Eng. AIME, L i t t l e t o n , CO, 1981, pp. 109-120.
G., S. J. Swainson, and D i s s o l u t i o n of Gold and S i l v e r i n Cyanide S o l u t i o n s . Trans. AIME, v. 112, 1934, pp. 660-677.
N. Hedley.

Beard, R. C., and S. R i v e t t . P o t e n t i a l f o r Small Gold Mining Operations i n t h e Kenora, Dnt. Area. Can. Min. J., v. 101, No. 9 , 1980, pp. 57-58, 61. and F. M. Lewis. Gold Bhappu, R. B., E x t r a c t i o n From Low Grade Ores--Economic E v a l u a t i o n of Processes. Min. Cong. J., v. 61, No. 1, 1975, pp. 38-41.
M. F. Lewis, and J. A. Bhappu, R. B., McAllister. Leaching of Low Grade Gold Ores. Economic E v a l u a t i o n of A v a i l a b l e Processes. P r e p r i n t s , Soc. Min. Eng. AIME, P r e p r i n t 74-AS-55, 1974, 18 pp.; a b s t r . i n ch. 18 of S o l u t i o n Mining Symposium 1974, ed. by F. F. Arlan, W. A. McKinney, and A. D. Permichele (Mining Symp. AIME Annu. Meeting, D a l l a s , TX, Feb. 25-27, 1974), AIME, 1974.

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Bruce, R. ( a s s i g n e d t o Canadian Minis t e r of Mines and Technical Surveys). The P r e p a r a t i o n of S u l f i d e s , High Antimony Gold Ores f o r Cyanidation. U.S. Pat. 3,174,848, Mar. 23, 1965. Buggs, A. A., N. F. Kember, and R. A. Wells ( a s s i g n e d t o N a t i o n a l Research Development Corp.). Process f o r t h e Recove r y of Gold and S i l v e r Values From Gold and S i l v e r Bearing Aqueous Cyanide Liqu o r s hnd Ion Exchange Resin Employed Therein. U.S. Pat. 3,317,313, May 2, 1967. Caldon, F. ( a s s i g n e d t o Sunshine Mining Co.). Acidic P r e s s u r e Leaching of Sulphide and Oxide Ores of S i l v e r o r Copper. U.S. Pat. 4,084,961, Apr. 18, 1978. RO Chadwick, J. R. E G - Gold T a i l i n g s Reclamation and Retreatment. World Min., v. 33, No. 6, 1980, pp. 48-52. Chamberlain, C. , J. Newton, and D. C l i f t o n . How Cyanidation Can Treat Copper Ores. Eng. and Min. J., v. 170, No. 10, 1969, pp. 90-91.

Barasky,

Chamberlain, P G. . . and M. G Pojar. . The Status of Gold and Silver Leaching Operations in the United States. Ch. 1 in Gold and Silver Leaching, Recovery and . . . Economics, ed. by W J. Schlitt. W C Larson, and J B Biakey . . (Proc. SME Sessions on Solution Mining and Economics of Precious Metals. AIME Annu. Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 22-26. 1981). Soc. Min. Eng. AIME, Littleton, CO, 1981, pp. 1-16. Chamberlin, P. D Heap Leaching and . Pilot Testing of Gold and Silver Ores. Min. Cong. J., v. 67, No. 4, 1981, pp. 47-52. Chase. C K Treatment of Manganifer. . ous Silver Ores for Recovery of Silver in View of Changed Precious Metal Economics. Ch. 3 in Gold and Silver Leaching, Recovery and Economics, ed. by W J Schlitt, . . W C Larson, and J B Hiskey . . . . (Proc. SUE Sessions on Solution Mining and Economics of Precious Metals, AIKE Annu. Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 22-26, 1981). Soc. Min. Eng. AIME, Littleton. CO, 1981. pp. 23-24. . . . . Chase, C K, W S Ransom, and D L . . Simpson. The Glitter Gets Better - the Two Year Record of Gold Heap Leaching at Smokey Valley Mining Div. Copper Range CO., Round Mountain, Nevada. Pres. at 109th Annu. Meeting, TMS, AIME, Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 24-28, 1980, preprint A80.3, 8 pp.

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Xinetica Silver Cyanide MCharcoal. Metall. 2. 1979, pp. 165-

Davidoff, C Extraction of Silver From . Silver Ore Cyanide Leach Solutions. US .. Pat. 3,311,468. Mar. 28, 1967; British Pat. 1,079,615, Aug. 16. 1967. Deite, G A, and J Halpern. Reaction . . . of Silver With Aqueous Solutions of Cyanide and Oxygen. J Metals, v . . 5, No. 9, 1953. pp. 1109-1116. de Lucio, F, and M Vargas. . . Silver Recovery Increased From 7 to 86 Percent. 0 World Min., v 32, No. 6, 1979, pp. 60. 61. De Mull, T J , and R A. Womack. Heap . . . Leaching Practice at Alligator Ridge. Pres. at SME-AIME Fall Meeting and Exhibit, Salt Lake City, UT, Oct. 19-21, 1983. SME Preprint 83-403, 11 pp. Dietz, G, Jr., and R M Skomoroski . . . (assigned to American Chemical and Refining C . . o) Aluminum Containing Precipitation Agent for Precious Metals and Method for Its Use. US .. Pat. 4,092,154, May 30, 1978. . . Dorr, J V. N , and F. L Bosqui. Cya. nidation and Concentration of Gold and Silver Ores. McGraw-Hill, 2d ed., 1950, 511 pp. Douglas, H . The Economics of Silver and the Miner. Ch. 14 in Gold and Silver Leaching, Recovery and Economics, ed. by W J Schlitt, W C Larson, and J 8. . . . . . Hiskey (Proc. SME Sessions on Solution Mining and Economics of Precious Metals, AIME Annu. Meeting, Chicago, IL, Feb. 2226, 1981). Soc. Min. Eng. ATME, Littleton. CO, 1981, pp. 131-136. Duncan, D M . . Open Pit Gold Mining at Cortez. Colorado Mining Association 1974 Mining Yearbook, Denver, CO, 1974, pp. 92-94.

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Chen, T P (assigned to Cyprus Metal. . lurgical Processes Gorp.). Acid Leaching of Copper, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Zinc, Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Tin, Cobalt, Nickel, Antimony, Bismuth or Other Metal. US . . Pat. 3,930,969. Jan. 6. 1976. Chisholm, E 0 . . Canadians Operating Gold Leaching Operation in New Mexico. The Northern Miner, v 61. No. 27, 1975. . pp. 59-60. Cho, E H, and C 8 Pitt. Adsorption . . . . of Silver Cyanide on Activated Charcoal. Metall. Trans. B, v 10B. No. 2, 1979, . pp. 159-164.

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Smith, P. R., Jr., D. W. B a i l e y , and Woods, J. L., R. E. Doane. Trends i n Chemical Processand T. A. Pittman (ass i g n e d t o Elmet, Inc.). E x t r a c t i o n of i n g and Hydrometallurgy. Eng. and Min. J., v. 173, No. 6 , 1972, pp. 173-177. Gold and/or S i l v e r From Ores Thereof. . U.S. P a t . 3,826,723, J u l y 30, 1974. Swarsab Mining, E x p l o r a t i o n and Development Co., Ltd. Method of Leaching With ( a s s i g n e d t o Elmet, Inc.). ExAqua Regia a Mixture of Gold and Rhodium, t r a c t i o n of S i l v e r and/or Gold Prom Ore I r i d i u m , and Rutheium--i.e., Platinum Thereof. Can. Pat. 994,107, Aug. 3 , Group Metals (Pas)--From a Matte Leach 1976. Residue o r Sludge Containing Such Values. U.S. Pat. 3,920,790, Nov. 18, 1978; B r i t I. T. K i f f , E. M. Worthington, J. E., i s h Pat. 1,418,060, Dec. 17, 1975. J o n e s , and P. E. Chapman. A p p l i c a t i o n s of t h e Hot Springs o r Fumarolic Model i n S e p a r a t i o n of Gold From P l a t i P r o s p e c t i n g f o r Lode Gold Deposits. Min. num Group Metals ( P a s ) Occuring Together Eng., v. 32, No. 1 , 1980, pp. 73-79. i n Matte Leach Residue o r Sludge. U.S. Pat. 3,929,469, Dec. 30, 1975; B r i t i s h Zadra, J. B. A Process f o r t h e RecovPat. 1,434,288, May 5, 1976. e r y of Gold From Activated Carbon by Leaching and E l e c t r o l y s i s . BuMines R I (assigned t o Treadwell Tuwiner, S. B. 4672, 1950, 47 pp. Corp). Recovery of Gold, S i l v e r , Copper, Zadra, J. B., A. L. Engel, and H. J. o r Zinc From Ores by Leaching. U.S. Pat. 3,357,823, Dec. 12, 1967. Heinen. Process f o r Recovering Gold and S i l v e r From Activated Carbon by Leaching U.S. Bureau of Mines. I n S i t u Mining and E l e c t r o l y s i s . BuMines RI 4843, 1952, Research. Proceedings: Bureau of Mines 32 PP. Technology T r a n s f e r Seminar, Denver, Colo., Aug. 5 , 1981. BuMines IC 8852. 1981, 107 pp.

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