Newmont is looking to leverage planning software already used in the oil sands industry to create a safe, stable and well-planned tailings storage facility at its Peñasquito gold mine, in Mexico, according to Ross Hunsaker.
Hunsaker, the gold miner’s Tailings and Fresh Water Manager, is due to present ‘Newmont Goldcorp Peñasquito Mine – How Technology has Enhanced Tailings Planning’ at the 2020 SME MineXchange Annual Conference & Expo, in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday, with a presentation abstract revealing more about his talk.
As he said in this abstract, the oil sands industry operates large, complex tailings storage facility (TSF), with these operators taking advantage of tools generated for mining and using them for planning and scheduling TSFs.
“Several different software packages are needed to handle this planning due to beach slope changes, mature fine tailings and water management,” he said. “Mining lags behind the oil sands industry when it comes to tools for tailings planning.”
At the Peñasquito mine, which produced 272,000 oz of gold in 2018, the TSF dam spans 11 km and, at completion, will be 150 m high. It has a centreline raise for three sides and a downstream raise for the fourth side, according to Hunsaker. It is being constructed using a mine fleet of Komatsu 930Es for a buttress, and a fleet of Cat 777 haul trucks for a sliver fill, with 20-ton (18 t) dump trucks for rock fill and cycloned sand, he added.
According to Hunsaker, the Peñasquito team is implementing planning software to integrate all construction activities into one plan, with scenario planning enhanced by software to optimise resources, activity duration and constraint identification.
Back in 2018, Goldcorp (which later merged with Newmont) achieved commercial production at Pyrite Leach project (PLP) at Peñasquito, a project that has seen tailings reprocessed for metal recovery.
The PLP plant processes the existing plant tails, feeding a sequential flotation and leach circuit with precious metals recovered through a Merrill Crowe process, producing doré as the final product. Tails from the new plant report to the existing TSF.
Hunsaker concluded in the abstract: “The overall software implementation is a work in progress with the overall goal of a safe, stable and well planned TSF.”