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AZMET finalising installation of AZ-CRP plant in DRC

4th February 2024

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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Engineering design and project management company AZMET expects to finalise performance testing of an AZMET Cyanide Reduction Process (AZ-CRP) plant installation at a gold mining operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by March.

The plant was ordered in the fourth quarter of 2021 for a brownfield project, following laboratory and pilot-scale testwork. AZMET supervised and managed the construction phase of the plant and assisted with commissioning, which was scheduled to be completed last month.

“This is the first project of its kind globally and consists of six AZ-UFR upflow reactors and one reactor used for the acidification and cyanide recovery portion of the process,” says AZMET marketing director Ruan Kukard.

The AZ-UFR technology is exceptionally lucrative for gold mining companies owing to the attractive internal rate of return and return on investment it offers, he advances.

“To recover additional gold from discharged tailings (not only in solution but also in solids) that would have otherwise been lost, ensures that this technology is unrivalled globally. Additionally, when coupled with the AZ-CRP cyanide reduction technology, an AZ-UFR circuit not only offers end-users financial gains but also environmental benefits.”

The AZ-CRP is aimed at facilitating additional gold recovery from final tailings while reducing cyanide to levels that comply with the International Cyanide Management Code and regulations.

Owing to the kinetics of the AZ-UFR, as little as 20% of the residence time is required to achieve the same or better dissolutions compared with conventional leach circuits. This reduces the size of leach vessels substantially, which amounts to project savings across all engineering disciplines, states Kukard, adding that the additional gold recovery speaks for itself.

However, the 300 m3 AZ-UFR units still required a modular and/or bolted design that allowed for on-site assembly to facilitate the ease of transportation to site. The assembly of the AZ-UFR was also trialled prior to shipment to the DRC.

“The AZ-UFR is a patented product and provides unrivalled kinetics compared with conventional leaching methods and/or equipment. This is only one of the various applications for the AZ-UFR in the minerals and mining sector that we have identified through extensive testing.

“Marketing is currently focused on applications where mining companies can benefit from additional gold recoveries from their tailings discharge. However, we have not even scratched the surface on the various applications through which the AZ-UFR can add value to end-users, including other minerals and metals beneficiation sectors.”

Acknowledgment

AZMET was named the runner-up at the 2023 South African Capital Equipment Export Council Exporter of the Year Awards in the category of exporter of the year with a turnover between R150-million and R200-million a year.

“This is a true testament of our aim for constant global footprint expansion with regard to our value-added services, products and process technologies in the gold beneficiation market,” advances Kukard. 

Since its inception in 2014, AZMET has mostly executed export contracts and considers its knowledge on export standards across various countries and continents to be exceptional.

“We have sold two AZ-UFRs in South Africa to facilitate copper stripping for increased gold bullion purity. The DRC project is our first globally sold AZ-CRP plant,” explains Kukard.

He says the development of innovative products and technologies in the mining and minerals sector is driven by challenges that clients cannot solve with the products and technologies available globally.

The AZ-UFR evolved from a vessel developed for a project undertaken by AZMET in Armenia in 2017.

As the company does not have a manufacturing facility, it selects local, third-party fabricators through an adjudication process to manufacture the various components of the AZ-UFR.

Developed in conjunction with the AZ-CRP over seven years before being launched, the AZ-UFR’s performance parameters are constantly being improved through AZMET’s continued research and development.

“The most common challenge in the mineral and mining sector is to develop a product and/or technology that offers benefits that supersede the risk of change. Most operational mines are set in their ways and to market change and secure project budget approvals for unknown products and/or technologies is challenging.

“But ultimately, you just need to sell the first unit to obtain a reliable reference and we firmly believe that thereafter the product’s benefits are so great that it will sell itself,” concludes Kukard.

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