Round Mountain innovates to increase heap leach production

“It’s the continuous improvements culture at its finest,” said Randy Burggraff, Vice-President and General Manager, Round Mountain. “We took a close look at our operation, took bold steps that went beyond the routine and found innovative ways to reach our goals.”

After years of operation, Round Mountain’s largest heap leach pad was near its capacity. They had a choice: either build a new heap leach pad, which would be costly and time consuming, or find an innovative way to make more efficient use of the existing pad.

Round Mountain put together a multidisciplinary ‘Leach Way Forward’ team consisting of members from the mine department, pad crew, metallurgy, mine planning, survey, maintenance and continuous improvements departments to find the best solution.

The team thought that sloping the current pads as well as removing the risers (pictured below) would increase the solution delivery and give access to areas that had not been previously leached. After making these changes, the results were noticeable – the process solution delivery and saturation process improved significantly.

Launched in Q4 2013, the project has made it possible to access previously unrecovered ounces. The impact continues to contribute in 2015 as evidenced by Round Mountain’s Q2 results – the operation racked up the best production and costs in almost three years.

“This is one of the best ‘Way Forward’ efforts at Round Mountain. Team members counted on each other and knew that they had the support of senior mine leadership to achieve the end result,” said Frank Wagener, Continuous Improvements Manager.

Key members of the team include Bill Shank, General Foreman, Ore Processing, Bryon Bisiaux, Mine Superintendent and Chris Enzi, Maintenance Superintendent.


New sloping above the pond


A picture of the pad with risers, before the project began


South end of the heap leach pad after removing the risers


A panoramic view of the east side of the pad

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