The historic Mount Morgan gold and copper mine near Rockhampton could re-open by 2016 with new owners, Carbine Resources, achieving an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of expensive cyanide needed to leech gold from existing tailings.
The mine ceased production in 1980 after 100 years of operation leaving behind extensive mineral-rich tailings (materials left over after the process of extracting ore from the ground). Tailings processing was then undertaken for 10 years via the operation of a 3Mtpa gold carbon-in-pulp facility, until a slump in gold prices made the project financially unviable.
However, now thanks to a new process developed by Carbine, the mine may soon become profitable again. The new process greatly reduces the amount of cyanide required – the most expensive part of processing tailings for gold.
In a statement the company said, “Initial testwork results have exceeded expectations, showing cyanide consumption can be reduced by 81% via the selective removal of copper prior to gold recovery. This is likely to have a positive effect on minimising overall operating costs for the proposed future tailings operation.
Speaking to the Morning Bulletin, Carbine’s executive director Patrick Walta said, “We’ve got a long way to go but the early signs are very positive.”
“We’re slowly working through the toll gates but, based on current timelines, we’re looking at being up and running in 2016.”
According to the Morning Bulletin, “Carbine’s process also involved the flotation of acid-forming pyrite from the remaining tailings, which would drastically reduce current environmental issues at the mine.”
If the project is realised, it could employ up to 50-full time staff and have a production rate of one?million tonnes of tailings a year.
“It will be a great thing for the local community and the environment,” Mr Walta said.