The development of a gold project is a business venture rather than a technical exercise, and the real objective is to obtain the maximum return on investment consistent with the limitations imposed by the owner’s policy and the requirements of society. At the same time the demand for profits is the driving force for technical advances and naturally leads to improvements in the process, equipment and plant design. In the gold ore processing field there have been small changes in recovery processes and the steady erosion of profits by inflation has been offset primarily by increasing equipment size. Unfortunately plant designers have not always employed the largest equipment or the opportunities for functional and economic design presented by the development of larger equipment. Lower cost plants can only be developed by ensuring that unrealistic restrains arising from the prejudice of past practices are avoided.
While identical metallurgical flowsheets can be used to treat similar gold ores in different places, the designer can consider three options, conventional plant, and alternate using the largest available equipment and a third scheme considering large equipment. In this way, the most functional could be developed, including features from many plants in other places. Ancillary facilities must include a truck shop, a maintenance shop, a general office and a nominal started dam for tailings disposal, water supply, and power supply. In order to take the right decision, the designer must compare possible flowsheets and capital costs. For example, a gold flotation plant designed with large equipment, has a capital 15-20% less than that of a conventional plant.
Many arrangements of the general facilities and equipment in a plant are possible and especial arrangement can be considered as optimum depending upon individual preferences and priorities. Every designer will try to give due consideration to such basic factors as convenience, efficiency, dependability, functionality, simplicity and safety all weighed against initial construction costs. In this way, careful design and most particularly design based on proper recognition of operating and maintenance problems, is a vital necessity even for small gold processing plants. This requirement stems from the inherent higher unit cost of operation and maintenance and from the limited size of the labor force and general maintenance facilities in a small gold operation that may be partially compensated by an effective and well thought out original design. Operating experience and know-how from existing gold operations are employed to the greatest possible extent in the design phase.
Other important aspect is related to the appropriate selection of construction materials and the techniques of their use need special attention to insure dependability in operation and to minimize replacement cost. Some other mineral processing plants pose a variety of problems encountered in a gold plant. For example, corrosive solutions in combination with abrasive solids intensify the corrosion problems, which are accelerated by heat and oxidation.
Site Selection | Buildings and Facilities | Plant Facilities | Plant Layout | Material of Construction | Corrosion Problems | Electricity Requirement | Water Requirement | Fuel and Steam Requirement | Slurry Transport | Heap Leaching in Cold Places | Design of Processing Plant in Cold Places | Rock Fragmentation Systems | Bad Practices to Design a Gold Gravity Recovery Circuit |