Major State-owned miner strikes gold with innovation

Published on 08/04 2017  Source: China Daily



Every staff member of Shandong Gold Group, also known as SD Gold, wears a sheer gold badge, revealing a close connection between the major Chinese gold producer and the precious metal.

Yet for the company headquartered in Jinan, Shandong province in East China, its intellectual property portfolio competes with the glistening gold as its most valuable asset, said Cui Lun, deputy general manager of SD Gold.

"The most valuable assets at our company are our seabed mining technologies and a proprietary gold rock drill that has set a record of reaching more than 4,000 meters deep in China," Cui said.

In cooperation with experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Metallurgical Geology Bureau, the company began developing the gold-prospecting drill in 2010.

Included in the Geological Society of China's 2011 top 10 technological progress achievements in the industry nationwide, the drill has gained a rich intellectual property portfolio.

The drill is "of strategic significance to China's gold exploration, mineral research, and collection and analysis of geophysical prospecting data", said Chen Yumin, board chairman of SD Gold.

Wang Zhaokun, chief geologist of SD Gold, said the achievement has also boosted the company's confidence in discovering more gold reserves.

"We have to go deeper for more resources, as few shallow mines are left uncovered," Wang said.

The state-of-the-art mining facility has helped the company to discover a gold deposit estimated at more than 550 metric tons in the coastal province, reportedly the largest of its kind in China.

Forecasts estimate it will take 40 years to fully mine the deposit at the Xiling gold mine area in the Laizhou-Zhaoyuan region, with an estimated daily supply of 10 to 15 tons, according to Cui. The potential value is predicted to surpass 150 billion yuan ($22.33 billion), Chinese media reported.

As part of the mine is submarine, it requires complicated technological solutions, according to the company.

Shandong is rich in high-quality gold resources, yet many of them are tucked away deep underground or lying on the seabed, Cui said.

When carrying out deep mining, engineers and workers need to deal with a variety of challenges, such as geothermal changes and ground pressure, he noted.

Submarine mines are even more complicated, as they tend to involve more problems, including water leakage and earth slides resulting from the fault zones, Wang added.

Since 2008, SD Gold has developed a series of technological innovations to increase safety and efficiency in its marine mining activities, which have been granted 11 patents, Board Chairman Chen said.

To date, the company has been granted 272 patents, including 50 invention patents, and led or took part in the formulation of 11 national or industrial standards.

Cui said: "Our patent filings revolve around mineral exploration and development, as well as (gold) production."

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the company will focus its research on exploring and developing deep resources, automation and the comprehensive treatment of exhausted mines, Chen said.

As a large mineral group, the State-owned enterprise will increase cooperation with research centers and higher learning institutes in developing eco-friendly mining technologies, he said.

SD Gold's Guilaizhuang mining area has been designated a national model industrial tourism site, the only one of its kind in China's gold mining industry, and has been named a national mine park.

Deputy General Manager Cui said: "Our goal is to turn all of our mines green by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period."

Data from the China Gold Association show that the country generated more than 450 tons in 2016, ranking No 1 worldwide for 10 consecutive years.

SD Gold contributed nearly 30 tons of that total, according to the company.