The SART Process

    The gold mining industry has been experimenting several changes due to the lack of deposits with high content of gold and the significant increase of the gold price. Nowadays, the ounce of gold has a value of more than $2,000 and the search for new processes to treat difficult gold ores is vital. As a result of this concern, there is a new technology that may be employed to treat gold-copper ores where copper is present with certain degree of oxidation. It is well known that these deposits are extremely difficult to treat. The new technology is called SART Process and was developed by Lakefield research when was testing the gold ore from the Lobo Marte project located in Chile and owned by Teck Corporation and Mantos Blancos. The operation of Telfer in Australia employs this process and the large operation of Yanacocha has included this process to treat gold ores with presence of oxide copper minerals. The other two potential operations are Marincagua and Mantos de Oro owned by Kinross Gold Corporation.
    It is important to indicate that the new gold price has created an impact in other aspects such as an increase in the cost of cyanide, lime and power. As a result, the exploration and prospection of new gold deposits is important. Under this consideration, it is possible to consider deposit of low grad or with certain content of oxide copper minerals, which are located in Peru (Cajamarca, Ayacucho, and Arequipa), Chile and South Africa. Basically, the treatment of gold-copper deposits with presence of oxide copper minerals is problematic because copper is dissolved during the cyanidation process. Many projects with this problem were abandoned due to the lack of technology. This kind of gold ores are characterized by the low recovery of gold and high consumptions of cyanide. Nowadays, they can be treated depending on the degree of oxidation of the copper sulphides.
    In this way, there is a great potential to use the SART process to treat complex gold-copper ores and incorporate them to the economical reserves of the project. The SART process obtains good results optimizing the recovery of gold without high operating costs.