Hollow, J.T., 2006, An evaluation of variables affecting gold extraction at a mineral processing plant operated in a sub-Arctic environment: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Ph.D. dissertation, 159 p.
The Fort Knox Mine, located 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, is operated in a sub-Antic environment. Since process slurry temperatures cycle seasonally with air temperature, the mine presents a unique opportunity to measure the impact of slurry temperature on process performance under full scale plant, conditions. This thesis analyzes an energy balance approach to model the seasonal variations in slurry temperature throughout the Fort Knox mill. The mill utilizes both gravity concentration and cyanidation for gold recovery. Models were developed to accurately predict the impact of slurry temperature on cyanide leach, carbon adsorption and cyanide destruction kinetics. The energy balance model, combined with the kinetics models, was used to accurately predict the gold recovery and subsequently to justify the installation of a tailings wash thickener to recovery heat from the mill tailings. A substantial portion of this thesis is dedicated to the development of these models, analysis of the post expansion plant performance, and summarizing project economics. Gold in the Fort Knox deposit is generally less than 100 microns in size and contained in quartz veins and along shears within the host granite, at an average gold grade of 0.8 g/metric ton. In April 2001, the mill began processing ore from a satellite ore deposit, the True North Mine, as a blend with Fort Knox ore. The gold grade in the True North deposit averages 1.5 g/metric ton and can be associated with pyrite, arsenopyrite and stibnite. An unexpected drop in gold recovery resulted from processing the blended ore and was the subject of an extensive laboratory evaluation. Laboratory results suggested that the leach kinetics of the coarse gold particles were significantly impacted, when the blended ore was processed, and that the impact could be reduced, or eliminated, with the addition of lead nitrate. Subsequently, a lead nitrate addition scheme was implemented at the Fort Knox mill. A portion of this thesis is dedicated to a review of the laboratory program, an evaluation of the environmental impacts and a summary of plant performance, when utilizing lead nitrate at the Fort Knox Mine.
Theses and Dissertations