KEY PERFORMANCE QUESTION (KPQ): WHY AREN’T WE MILLIONAIRES YET?
STRATEGIC GOAL: Overcome major obstacles preventing our team from meeting targets and performance thresholds essential for successful gold and other precious metal refinement.
MAJOR OBSTACLES INCLUDE:
· Insufficient Equipment
· Processing Limitations
· Environmental Factors
OPERATIONAL OVERVIEW & HISTORY: The gold mining and extraction business is a very tight-lipped community that does not give up its secrets easily. It seems everyone has an opinion from the massive mining companies like Barrick Gold to the local back yard miners. They all have varying opinions on how they release the gold molecules from the other evasive metals like Iron Pyrites, Lead, Iron and a host of Sulfides.
Currently our team is now well versed and much more educated in gold and precious mineral refinement, but there were many unforeseen difficulties we faced in the beginning that we had to overcome.
Extracting the gold and other precious from the ore concentrates is a much more complicated process than we had ever imagined. Through a very complex strategy of trial and error we have experienced varying results. Our staff has learned so much through this process but not without stumbling stones.
When we first started the mine operation, we got together as a team to study out every method of gold extraction we could find. Early on, after making a lot of phone calls many of the individuals we talked to were reluctant to share information about mining. So, next we turned to ordering books and reading everything from the turn of the century literature to the latest publications available on the subject.
The team began researching and watching all the video’s and How-To’s on the Internet. We quickly discovered much of the mechanical gold processing equipment available today is geared towards the weekend hobby miners, the precious metal analysis companies, or the “big boy” mining corporations. While our process to work the tailings is very similar to the "big boys", there were a limited number of companies that could provide the size of equipment we were looking for.
Our team concluded that the GOLD HOG high bank sluice systems would probably be a good starting method for getting the gold from our ore. We ended up spending a hundred hours, in just practicing with the GOLD HOG High Banker without much success.
Over and over we’d just watch the gold dust flow right OFF the edge of the sluices and into the slush buckets or be so entangled in the matting that we couldn’t get it freed. We could clearly see that the dust was just too fine or just too trapped within the ore rock for the equipment to efficiently sluice it out.
So back to the calling, reading and video’s we went. During this round of research, we found that many of the 'experts' differed on their approach to working with the same type ore. After some exhausting days and heated discussions, we completely changed our mining strategy and decided our best course of action was to buy a flail mill.
A flail mill is used to crush mid-sized ore rock into a fine powder. Still entrenched deeply in the learning phase and armed only with a very basic user manual we jumped right in to using that flail. We had thought that the flail mill we’d purchased was the type that processed wet ore. After our first-run, we found out we were very wrong, and it took days of cleaning and vacuuming to get the flail operational again. We all felt ignorant that day, but we pressed on.
After getting our exact model identified, we went back to the Internet and watched about 20 videos of others successfully processing the type of rock ore that we were collecting. Feeling much more confident we immediately went back to working the flail mill full time.
Because much of the ore we process is incredibly dense within the first month we had already burnt out the internal set of crushing hammers.
The team was shocked when we found out the high costs of purchasing a new set of crushing hammers. An ever-resourceful team member found a fabricator to manufacture a new set of hammers at half the price and we were back in business.
We then decided to change up our method and use smaller rock which really helped relieve the pressure on the hammers and got the flail mill part of the process moving along smoothly.
As we progressed, we realized that an upgrade to a hammer mill that would replace the flail mill was warranted to keep with the optimal wet system. Higher initial cost vs lower maintenance cost. Only drawback was it requires a large generator to run. No GAS-POWERED hammer mills available at our size requirements.
The Flail mill was purchased to process 3” and smaller material. Most of our Tuscarora Mine ore was much bigger, 6” to 12” was the average size. We realized that our gold was micro in size and volcanically deposited throughout all material. We needed a ROCK CRUSHER to process larger material.
The flail mill has a lower production rate (250 pounds per hour) and higher maintenance frequency (cost per hour to run) than a hammer mill or ball mill and is not run in a wet system.
During the flail mill operation, we noticed that we were losing incredible amounts of fine ore powder from the machines exhaust ports. By days end there would be as much as 2 inches of powder lining the ground beneath it.
Our team got right on finding a solution and after many experiments we found a perfect dust capturing system and soon learned this fine powder was heavily loaded with precious metals.
To get the gold separated from the powdered ore we knew the high bankers were not going to work so we put those up for sale and bought several spiral classifying miner wheels. Initially, the miner wheels seemed to work, however it became apparent that even running eight wheels simultaneously was taking far too long to process the materials. Also, the ore powder had to be prepped in a very specific way that was time consuming, messy and labor intensive.
The constant repair and maintenance of the miner wheels caused us to shift our method to using the spinning blue bowls, which worked, however much like the miner wheels the process was incredibly sluggish, and production was slow. We kept at it though, day after day refining much of the process as we worked, and we got production up to a reliable rate.
We knew there were better ways to get the gold so again we turned to our research. After careful consideration of the limited types of equipment available on the market we set our sights on the amazing shaker table system.
Through all our research we knew the shaker table system would be the answer to up production from one to several tons a day plus, recover far more of the precious metals than ever before. The moment the finances were in place we ordered one and drove straight to the manufacture to pick it up.
Once again, we ran into another full set of unforeseen circumstances. We found that we had to classify every ounce of material by hand to prevent clogging up and washing our flour gold and metals right over the edge. Carefully analyzing precise water flow, material feed rates, table level and angles we have finally perfected methods that ensure we are capturing almost all the gold, silver and other precious metals. The shaker table is by far the best equipment for metal recovery from powdered ore.
The SHAKER TABLE has 95% efficiency of metal concentrates collection, if adjusted correctly.
The next step in this process consists of separating the gold from the sulfides, oxides, lead, copper, silver and other various metals without destroying the gold and more precious metals like the Platinum, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium, Osmium, and Palladium. This is perhaps the most difficult process of all.
The current and common gold separating processes used by most of the “big boys” is a series of toxic techniques, that include the use of extremely harsh chemicals such as lime, nitric acid and hydrochloric acids combinations, plus cyanide or mercury, which all contain a high level of toxicity. The waste water after gold recovery contains poisonous heavy metals that must be disposed of at a toxic waste facility. Chemical processing equipment is also limited, especially in the U.S. most manufacturers are overseas, and a great deal of legal paperwork and permits is required just to order them.
All the ways we have tried are very complicated and can be highly toxic, but we’ve done our best to experiment with the appropriate processes available to the best of our abilities and finances.
Through a rough process of trial and error we have discovered that our ore is part of the Carlin Trend type deposit region that is overabundant with sulfides. As a prime example, the largest gold mine in North America is in Nevada along the Carlin Trend deposit region where as much as 10 tons of raw ore must be extracted to obtain just one ounce of gold.
To isolate the pure gold and other precious metals we must use a complex system that includes roasting then smelting to separate the gold. Initially, we melted 9 of our kilns before we discovered that it was vital to PRE-ROAST off the sulfides and we needed to come up with an entirely new system for doing that.
There is limited information available on how to create the most efficiently system to separate precious metal materials. Again, we started making phone calls only to find that many people we talked to were unwilling to share information about the roasting and smelting process. We eventually found some mining operations that would allow us to visit and tour their facilities.
Once back at our processing mill, we began with the basics, which turned out to be very complicated. After a series of events that included melting pans, burning up kilns, putting out fires, containment of toxic fumes, liquefying crucibles, vaporizing gold, and battling severe weather conditions, we finally designed a system that will work for our needs.
It, however, is critical to production that we, like other facilities gather the finances to build our own roasting and smelt equipment to ensure that we have a consistent product that is a high concentrate of gold and is ready for sale to the marketplace.
Yet another facet of the precious metals business, we have learned that there are unique advantages from Spot Metals Analysis (On location ASSAY). X-Ray Fluorescence Metals Analysis Report (XRF) would allow us to gather crucial ASSAY information on the precious metals content of any given sample at any given time at any location.
We have lease/purchase an XRF Gun as a critical tool to allow us to quickly evaluate the efficiency of our processing. Any necessary tweaks or changes can be made immediately vs sending a sample off and waiting for the results.
NEEDS FOR SUCCESS: We have learned so many important details about the variables needed to successfully refine gold, silver, and other precious metals. It is because of our team’s endless efforts and continuous drive that we have adapted our methods, changed our strategies and work tirelessly to overcome each discouraging obstacle.
If we would have known about all these unforeseen circumstances prior to beginning our operation, we would be no doubt already be millionaires. We are now prepared and can continue to move forward to produce a more valuable final product.
After all the trials and errors and visits with mines who have had similar experiences, we feel that we have the winning process combination that will allow us to successfully extract most of the valuable rare earth metals.
CRITICAL FACTORS WE HAVE LEARNED THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS
• A wet system is more optimal over a dry system (less product loss to dust, no dust collection equipment, less abrasive to equipment, etc.
• Eventually a ball mill will be utilized in place of the hammer mill (higher initial cost but dramatically reduced maintenance cost at the same volume.
• Reduce the ore to the size (20, 80, 150 mesh) that allows for the easy release of the precious metals from the ore. Higher reduction of ore size increases operation costs and reduces volume. Don’t pound it smaller if it does not need it.
• Variations in tried and tested time and temperature requirements in the roasting and smelting processes generally produce less than optimal results.
• The procurement, proper training and implementation of equipment that is dictated by type of ore and size of precious metal deposit, and precise will insure optimal results.
• Our business model is 2 to 5 ton/hr. system that is economical (compared to the big boys), MODULAR, SCALABLE AND DUPLICATABLE.
• We are in the process of designing a modular trailer version that stays under CDL weight restrictions.
We believe with the proper equipment in addition to an environmentally protected worksite that our workflow efficiency and productivity will increase significantly. We are putting all the preparations and knowledge to use. We have learned so much from our experiences and now know the machines, the products and can prepare for future issues and resolve them in a quick and efficient manner.