24 Feb Santa Rosa Commissioning
When the request to manage the commissioning of the Santa Rosa Gold Mine came through in early 2016, we couldn’t say no. What did we know about Colombia; a small country in the North West corner of South America with a heavy Spanish influence and an interesting history? We were soon to find out it is a great place.
In March 2015, Lycopodium Minerals Canada was awarded the engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract to build a gold processing plant for Red Eagle Mining Corporation near the small town of Santa Rosa de Osos in the department of Antioquia, Colombia. This 360,000tpa processing plant design was unique. Although the plant was small in scale, it had a complex yet fit-for-purpose flowsheet incorporating; crushing, surge bin, stockpile, SAG mill, flotation, regrind Vertimill, leach feed thickening, CIL circuit, cyanide destruction, tails thickening, tails filtration and dry stack tailings disposal. A zero water discharge facility with a small foot print and an even smaller environmental foot print. Located at 2,500m above sea level at the northern end of the Andes, the terrain was both challenging, and spectacular.
From August 2016 to December 2016, Leigh and Aleks from Orway Mineral Consultants (OMC) managed the commissioning and ramp-up of the Santa Rosa Gold Project. Commissioning is always a team effort and included personnel from Lycopodium Minerals and Red Eagle Mining along with local staff from HL Ingenieros S.A. and Indisa S.A. A rapid commissioning schedule was achieved:
- 25-September 2017 First Ore Crushed
- 18-October 2017 First Ore Milled
- 3-November 2017 First Gold Pour
- 13-November 2017 All Systems Commissioned and Operational
- 21-November 2017 Design Tonnage Achieved
Although commissioning was largely a great success, there were a number of challenges encountered along the way with the usual amount of interfacing issues, vendor supply errors and minor failures. The project location was also notable for its high rainfall and associated thunderstorm activity,
which was disruptive for construction and commissioning activities. Despite these challenges, no injuries, environmental or lost time incidents were encountered during commissioning and the project was completed on time and on budget.
Although mineral processing related experience in the country was limited, the local workforce was highly skilled and educated which helped with the delivery of the project. Their willingness to get on with the work and make modifications to improve the operation and operability of the circuit was great. I am convinced the only reason it rained was to keep the mod squad cool after working too hard!
Specific attention was given to developing a high-quality control system, with all of the major control loops running well in automatic and cascade control. The performance of the filtration circuit exceeded site expectations and did not create any delays as was anticipated, particularly whilst treating clay-rich ores during the initial start-up. The crush-grind-float-regrind circuit was also highly successful, enabling a coarser primary grind, reducing overall grinding costs, improving plant recovery, and reducing filtration requirements. The full variable speed VVVF SAG mill drive was also hugely advantageous, and allowed for rapid adjustment as the proportions of saprolite and sulphidic ore varied in the feed blend.
While this is the first modern gold processing plant to be built in Colombia, we look forward to travelling again to this region of the world and supplying our expertise. Thank you Colombia. To find out more about this, or any of our other services don’t hesitate to get in touch.