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Comment Separation Processes

Extracting gold without cyanide

By Paul Grad |

The first gold using a process without cyanide and without mercury has been produced using technology from CSIRO Minerals Technology (www.csiro.au) at a demonstration plant in the Western Australian goldfields town of Menzies. Cyanide is used in more than 90% of global gold production, but producers are facing increasingly tough regulations restricting the use of cyanide due to environmental and health concerns. The CSIRO technology replaces cyanide with thiosulfate, a nontoxic, mobile-plant alternative. It is a simple vat-and-heap-leach process involving low capital cost. CSIRO gold processing team leader Paul Breuer says the CSIRO process targets small high-grade deposits with good gold liberation at a coarse grind size suitable for the gravity tails to be vat-leached. A tank-leach process using this leach system is under development for demonstration next year. This will have the potential to open up the application of the technology to a greater range of ore types and will be scalable to larger projects. The process concepts entail a mobile plant, vat leach for coarse material, tank leach with thickener/filter as parallel circuit to treat fines, “dry” tails stacking, and plug-and-play modules tailored for different ore types.…
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