We at Peacocke & Simpson know as well as any other mining professionals that the gold price constantly fluctuates, subject to global demands and trends, and that this has all sorts of affects on production and plant creation. So perhaps the above title is somewhat misleading? The simple fact is that it isn’t. For very many projects that is absolutely true. If the cost of production is below the gold price, then a project is technically viable, and the wider the margin the more so. This may seem pretty obvious, but sentiment around a pre-conceived ‘bad’ price seems to be stalling projects when cool logic should dictate otherwise.
Augment production with cheaper ounces
Green-field gold projects such as alluvials or surface oxides can indeed come into production at sub $700 per ounce, some are even quoting sub $500 per ounce, but what can be done to see through the harsh times for existing operating properties? Cutting costs is the obvious route, but there is a limit beyond which operation simply becomes too difficult to sustain. Some properties, probably most, may be sitting upon a solution literally in their back yard in the form of an upper oxide zone, surface rubble, tailings or even a small high grade reef. Generation of cheap ounces from these resources, even over a short finite life, may well make the difference between continuation or closure.
Lower capital and operating costs
Mining costs obviously need to be accounted for, but invariably the cost of surface free-dig or even a small reef operation can be a fraction of the main operational costs of a plant. The next hurdle towards implementation then becomes the capital cost to initiate extra production. Our equipment partner APT has historically developed low cost modular solutions for almost all mineral processing applications and these become more important than ever in the context of cheap ounces. Not only has the capital been held to a minimum, but opex has also been addressed, particularly with low energy and manpower requirements. Peacocke & Simpson, as the official testwork partner of APT is therefore able to run testwork for any and all types of recovery and subsequently prescribe the most appropriate and cost effective method of recovery using APT equipment.
Ultra-fast lead times
The above is all well and good, but time is not on our side. The viability margin is being eroded daily and the sooner a remedy is put in place the better. Again APT solutions have been specifically designed to allow short lead times in construction and, more importantly, the pre-assembly of their plants translates into extremely fast on-site implementation. Smaller plants can be commissioned into production within just a few days with early gold pour offsetting any precious capital diverted to the sub-project. Moreover, Peacocke & Simpson boasts some of the fastest testwork turnaround times in the world, thus making the combination of P&S testwork and APT equipment a complete winning formula.
In summary, the means exist if the resource exists and testing is available to rapidly assess candidate materials. All that remains is the will to survive and a very modest capital outlay for a dramatic result.
Below are a few of the plants that APT have installed with the help of P&S, with the on-site installation time listed. If you would like to know more, or have an enquiry, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.