By eliminating the need for cement, a polymeric agglomeration program could improve material handling operations, as well as offer the following additional savings. First, the polymer application uses only lime for adjusting basicity, the polymer does not contribute any alkalinity to the heap. Because lime is more soluble than cement, detoxification of the heap becomes much faster and less costly for the mine relative to rinsing cement alkalinity. The following graph compares the detoxification rate of cement and polymer over a 33 day cycle.
Before the polymer could be applied to the heap leach ore, preliminary tests were conducted which would determine the programs performance. The tests included a strength and stability evaluation of the two agglomerants, polymer and cement, and a bottle roll leachability test.