DRDGOLD has temporarily suspended its recently constructed high grade section – a flotation circuit, a set of fine-grind mills and the cyanide leach and CIP circuit – to determine the cause of metallurgical problems that have led to lower than expected gold production for Q3 FY14. Although the new FFG technology, introduced to liberate more gold and increase recoveries by between 16 and 20%, has achieved positive float and grinding results, the CIP section has not yet stabilised and appears to have also contributed to metallurgical instability and carbon inefficiencies downstream in the existing CIL circuit or low grade section.Suspending the new section will enable the operational team to stabilise the low grade circuit and to determine the factors that could be affecting carbon efficiencies in both circuits. The company expects the original lower-grade CIL circuit to be settled within a month. The subsequent test work is likely to be completed within a further three- to four-month period.Incessant rains in this part of South Africa during February and March and surges, dips and interruptions in the power supply during this period have also negatively impacted both the high grade and low grade sections, contributing to the metallurgical instability of both sections.The Ergo team will therefore make use of the down-time to install drain valves to prevent silting up of the float cells during future power fluctuations, and auxiliary power units to thickener underflow pumps to prevent silting up of thickeners during these trip-outs.The FFG and high grade CIP circuit came into full operation in mid-January 2014 following the commissioning of a third thickener. Initial results were positive and utilisation was generally good. Flotation efficiencies and the performance of the fine-grind mills were consistent with targets. Sampling results show that the amount of gold remaining in solids (the so-called “washed residue grade”) reduced to within target range. This suggested the gold that previously remained inert within the pyrites was now driven off and had become soluble. However, loaded carbon values remained well below the target range in both the CIP and CIL circuits. This indicated that the gold remained in solution and was not being adsorbed onto carbon. To some extent this may be attributable to poor carbon efficiency – caused by volatile density levels in the feed at various stages in the process – which in turn is attributed to the thickeners that manage the flow of feed into the main CIL section. It may also be a knock-on effect of the reagents used in the flotation cells.Currently both carbon circuits of the plant – the higher grade CIP and the lower grade CIL – are unstable and are operating well below target range.As a result of these metallurgical inefficiencies and the resultant high dissolved gold losses, gold production for the quarter ended March 2014 is estimated to be 14% lower compared to the preceding quarter, and all-in sustaining unit costs are estimated to be up by 24% quarter on quarter.In a basic summary of the FFG process and its interaction with the low grade CIL circuit, slurry is sourced from various reclamation sites and is delivered to Ergo’s Brakpan plant. The slurry, or feed, is pumped through three banks of flotation cells to create a concentrate that contains gold-bearing pyrites. The concentrate enters a set of fine-grind mills to break down the pyrites and release gold which would otherwise have remained shielded from the subsequent metallurgical extraction process. Gold trapped in these pyrites is the main target of the FFG and the reason for its construction. This fine pulp then enters a high grade leach circuit, where cyanide is added to dissolve the gold in the pulp. The concentrate is then pumped to the CIP section where activated carbon is added and the dissolved gold is adsorbed. This loaded carbon is processed through an elution circuit, where the gold is stripped off the carbon into solution. This solution then flows through a series of EW cells where the gold is electrically deposited onto electrodes. Periodically the gold is washed off the electrodes, calcined and smelted into doré bars.The remaining 96% of the feed leaves the flotation circuit and enters the low grade circuit. It first enters a set of three thickeners to increase its density before being pumped into the main CIL tanks. It is essential that the thickeners are in good working order and stable, because the high grade tail cannot be processed by the low grade circuit until it has been thickened. Their purpose is therefore to increase the density of the feed, otherwise the carbon that is introduced later in the process will sink to the bottom of the CIL tanks, and not remain in suspension. From this point onwards in the low grade CIL circuit, the feed is subjected to a similar process to the one described above – cyanidation, carbon loading, elution, electro-wining and finally smelting into doré bars.
MOST PEOPLE HAVE come across this confusing quirk of YouTube.You’ve come across some viral video, be it a surfboarding seal or a dog having a meltdown over its own reflection in a mirror. After opening it up, you glance below the video to see just how viral it has gone – but the views are only a rather vague “301+”.If you go back to the video in a few hours or the next day, the views would have suddenly jumped considerably, revealing that thousands of people watched the video.Numberphile addressed the issue, and managed to find a Youtube analytics guru, Ted Hamilton, to explain it.301+ appears when the video accumulates enough views to merit YouTube taking a closer look to ensure that they’re all real.Closer lookWhile the video can still be viewed, and views recorded, they will not appear until YouTube analyse who was watched the video using a statistical verification process.This is to ensure the views haven’t been manipulated – for example, by using bots.Ted Hamilton said that Youtube sees views as a currency.“So, a significant effort must be made to eliminate counterfeit views,” he explained.Hamilton noted that when a video has a misleading preview or title, and the analytics show a lot of people clicking in only to immediately stop watching, some of these might not be added to the final total.Any other suspect views will be disregarded.But why does it stop at 301? And not 300, or 209?Turns out this is simply an idiosyncrasy dating back to the early days of YouTube. When the code was written to dictate when the views should be analysed in more detail, a less than or equal to sign was used, instead of less than. This means that the views must reach over 300 for the effect to kick in.Confused? Brady Haran of Numberphile explains it in more detail below: Source: Numberphile/YouTubeRead: This brilliant Tumblr celebrates sad, wistful YouTube comments >More: Indie music labels call in the big guns in their fight with YouTube >