The driver for this project is the possible extension of the mine life in a cost-effective way that simultaneously minimises the project's environmental footprint.
Invented in the mid-1990s by Dr Chris Fleming at Lakefield Research, the SART process recovers copper from cyanide leach solution while allowing free cyanide to be recycled back to the leaching of precious metals. This lowers the cost of gold extraction and reduces the environmental footprint of gold mining projects. Fewer than 10 industrial scale SART plants have been built and operated globally.
In the first stage of the project, BQE Water will complete the SART plant engineering design for construction which will enable the client to confirm the construction budget and overall project economics. Subject to the client's approval in the June quarter, the project will proceed to implementation. At full capacity, the SART plant is expected to treat up to 600m3/hr of leach solution, recycle approximately 6,700t/y of cyanide and recover approximately 3,400t/y of copper.
David Kratochvil, president and CEO of BQE Water, said: "We are excited about this project which in terms of its cyanide recycle and copper recovery capacities may become the largest application of SART in the industry to date. And with the need to achieve high plant availability and target metallurgical performance quickly following start-up and to maintain excellent SART performance throughout the project life, the client has also expressed interest in BQE Water's services for ongoing plant operations once the plant is commissioned."
Historically, gold producers could not develop deposits containing elevated levels of cyanide soluble copper due to the high cost of processing associated with the metallurgical interference of copper. SART enables ore from these types of deposits to be processed cost-effectively while reducing the environmental footprint, which BQE Water said represents a game changer for the industry. Mining companies could increase gold resources reported on their balance sheets and extend the lives of existing mines while improving the sustainability profile of their projects. This is significant for the industry that is adopting higher standards of environmental and social responsibility and is faced with the absence of discoveries of major new ‘clean' gold deposits.