Heads or Tails?

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Assembly of tails processing plant

Assembly of tails processing plant

Green Leaf Gold’s project to date has focused on mining shallow deposits of gold in an ancient river bed 1,000 miles downstream from its origin in the Andes. Primary mining of previously untouched gold deposits is only one side of the gold coin, though. The process is 80-90% efficient, meaning that the particles of gold not captured through our gravity sorting process are left behind.

This summer, with the expertise of Alberto Azcui and the mine’s general supervisor Fernando Saravia, both life-long miners, we’ve added a tails processing project. Tails are the leftovers from primary mining. Many mines never bother to recover gold from the tails. Some do not have the equipment and others seek higher profit margins through primary mining.

Testing the plant operation

Testing the plant operation

There can be profit in tails as long as the concentrations of leftover gold are high enough, but it is a slow money type of profit. From the triple bottom line perspective of social and environmental benefits, tails processing is good money. When tails are processed alongside primary mining, more jobs are created for each ton of earth moved. More gold is recovered, as well, from each ton. Increased efficiency reduces pressure to mine new areas.

Project leaders satisfied with new assembly

Project leaders satisfied with new assembly

Tails processing involves sluice boxes like primary mining does. It also applies shaking and centrifugal force to separate fine gold particles from silt and sand. Pilot production showed that the system can recover 0.1 to 0.2 grams per ton of tails, making the project viable. Incredibly, there’s about 1,000,000 tons of tails at the mine site – enough to employ miners for years to come. Tails production also diversifies income, providing greater financial stability for the mine.

Gold and fine silt captured

Gold and fine silt captured