Barrick Gold has announced that 16 scientific proposals have been selected to advance to Phase 2 of the company’s innovative Unlock the Value program. These proposals, chosen by an expert panel from a total of 238 preliminary submissions, contain creative approaches to several technologies, including microwave, laser, ultrasonics, electromagnetic, inorganic and organic chemistry, bioleaching and mechanics.
Participants in Phase 2 must submit a detailed, viable plan for developing and proving the concepts presented in the Phase 1 preliminary proposal. The Phase 2 proposal deadline is September 30, 2008. Phase 2 proposals will be rigorously reviewed, and those with high potential viability will be selected to advance to Phase 3: Collaborative Proof of Concept Testing, with Barrick funding the research and development. The program has four phases that test the solutions proposed, with the final phase being commercial scale technical and economical demonstration at Veladero. Testing through the various phases may take two or more years.
“We’re delighted with the response from the scientific community to this research project,” said Dr. Peter Kondos, Barrick’s Senior Manager of Research and Development. “It’s a positive sign that the evaluation process has identified 16 proposals that technically merit further research and development. There is still no guarantee we will find an economically viable solution, but we are hopeful one or more of these submissions may hold the key to unlock the value.”
Launched in September 2007, the Unlock the Value program invited scientists to submit proposals for increasing silver recovery from the ore at Barrick’s Veladero mine in Argentina, using a special website www.unlockthevalue.com. Silver minerals in the ore are encapsulated in silica, and resist traditional extraction methods. Barrick is offering a $10 million performance bonus for a successfully implemented solution.