For generations, gold has been an object of lore. The mere prospect of finding gold has dazzled fortune seekers, many of whom have left their homes in search of treasure and adventure. For Edward Hargraves, it was no different. In 1851, using techniques he had lifted from his time in the California goldfields, Edward found gold near Orange, New South Wales. His discovery sparked Australia's Gold Rush, bringing an influx of newcomers searching for wealth.
In the nearly 170 years since the discovery of gold, extraction techniques have changed dramatically, but there is still gold to be found on Australia's eastern coast. In 2004, Aurelia Metals began the process of extracting gold and lead-zinc concentrates from its Hera mine located in New South Wales. In 2016 alone, Aurelia produced nearly 47,000 ounces of gold.
When Aurelia opened in 2004, gold prices had been steadily increasing. Starting at a dismal $510.43 an ounce in May, 2004, gold peaked at $2027.58 per ounce in August of 2011. However, as with any demand-driven commodity, gold pricing began to slide, and with it went Aurelia's profits.
At the beginning of 2016, Aurelia needed to make significant improvements to its 74.6 percent gold recovery rate if it was going to survive. Tasked with implementing processes to achieve its goal of 85 percent, Peter Smith, Metallurgy Superintendent at Aurelia Metals, knew that the answer was in the PI System.
In March of 2016, Aurelia deployed the PI System to gain real-time insights into plant processes and operations. By visualizing operational data, the team began to understand variances and implement process controls to stabilize each step of the recovery process. Starting with the grinding process, the team eventually moved on to the float, leaching and filter press areas of the plant.
By the end of Q4 in 2016, Aurelia had used the PI System to work its way through its entire recovery process, and recovery rates had skyrocketed to 88.6 percent. “We've setup a model that the team can run more throughput …with stability and still get recovery,” Peter said, during the 2017 OSIsoft Users Conference. “That's more gold. That's more profit.”
Aurelia Metals used real-time data to optimize their operational processes for gold recovery.
However, recovery was not the only benefit. During the course of the project, Aurelia's profits had increased-and so had its share price. On February 1, 2016, Aurelia's shares were trading on the ASX at $.055 AUD. On December 30, 2016, shares closed at $.135 AUD, a massive 145.5 percent increase.
After hedging its bets with the PI System, Aurelia emerged with a newly efficient plant, impressive numbers and consumer confidence that was at an all-time high.
Read the full story of how Aurelia uses the PI System or watch the conference presentation.