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Gold Ore Processing: Project Development and Operations

Gold Ore Processing: Project Development and Operations

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Gold Ore Processing: Project Development and Operations

3.5/5 (3 évaluations)
3,150 pages
31 heures
May 3, 2016


Gold Ore Processing: Project Development and Operations, Second Edition, brings together all the technical aspects relevant to modern gold ore processing, offering a practical perspective that is vital to the successful and responsible development, operation, and closure of any gold ore processing operation. This completely updated edition features coverage of established, newly implemented, and emerging technologies; updated case studies; and additional topics, including automated mineralogy and geometallurgy, cyanide code compliance, recovery of gold from e-waste, handling of gaseous emissions, mercury and arsenic, emerging non-cyanide leaching systems, hydro re-mining, water management, solid–liquid separation, and treatment of challenging ores such as double refractory carbonaceous sulfides. Outlining best practices in gold processing from a variety of perspectives, Gold Ore Processing: Project Development and Operations is a must-have reference for anyone working in the gold industry, including metallurgists, geologists, chemists, mining engineers, and many others.

  • Includes several new chapters presenting established, newly implemented, and emerging technologies in gold ore processing
  • Covers all aspects of gold ore processing, from feasibility and development stages through environmentally responsible operations, to the rehabilitation stage
  • Offers a mineralogy-based approach to gold ore process flowsheet development that has application to multiple ore types
May 3, 2016

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Gold Ore Processing - Elsevier Science

Gold Ore Processing

Project Development and Operations

Second Edition


Mike D. Adams

Fugue Pte Ltd, Singapore

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page


List of Contributors


Preface to Second Edition

Preface to First Edition


List of Acronyms

List of Mineral Formulae

Chapter 1. Gold – An Historical Introduction

1. Gold in Ancient Egypt

2. Early Gold-Mining Centers

3. Gold and Alchemy

4. Uses of Gold

5. Occurrence of Gold

6. Processing of Gold Ores

7. Gold Standards and Assaying

8. Gold in Currency

9. Banks

10. Gold Museums

Part I. Project Development

Economic Evaluation of Gold Projects

Chapter 2. Overview of the Gold Mining Industry and Major Gold Deposits

1. Introduction

2. Gold Discovery and Deposits

3. Gold Production

Chapter 3. Evaluation and Funding of Capital Projects in Mining

1. Introduction

2. Evaluation of Capital Projects in Mining

3. Principles of Project Financials and Assessment

4. Common Errors

5. Project Risk

6. Financing of the Project

Feasibility Study Management

Chapter 4. Sampling Procedures

1. Introduction

2. Sampling Basics

3. Components of Sampling Error

4. Percussion Hole Sampling

5. Blast-Hole Sampling

6. Plant Sampling

7. Sampling from Stationary Situations

8. Sample Preparation

9. Conclusions

Chapter 5. Mineralogical Investigation of Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Gold Mineralogy

3. Process Mineralogy of Gold

4. Methodology for Studying Gold Minerals

5. Instrumental Analysis for Gold

6. Concluding Remarks

Chapter 6. Geometallurgical Characterization and Automated Mineralogy of Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Geometallurgy Overview

3. Geometallurgical Characterization of Gold Ores

4. Automated Mineralogy of Gold Ores

5. Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 7. Process Flowsheet Selection

1. Introduction

2. Comminution Process Options

3. Free-Milling Ore Process Options

4. Complex Ore Process Options

5. Refractory Ore Process Options

6. Refractory Process Selection

7. Factors for Consideration in Refractory Gold Process Selection

8. Discussion

9. Recent Commercial-Scale Technical Developments

Chapter 8. Metallurgical Test Work: Gold Processing Options, Physical Ore Properties, and Cyanide Management

1. Background

2. Ore Preparation and Assessment

Chapter 9. Process Simulation and Modeling

1. Introduction

2. Benefits of Simulation

3. Classification of Simulation Models

4. Steady-State Continuous Simulation

5. Dynamic Continuous Simulation

6. Dynamic Discrete Simulation

7. Computational Fluid Dynamics

8. Selecting a Good Simulation Package

9. Comminution and Size-Separation Simulations

10. Gold Extraction Simulations

11. The Future of Process Simulation

Chapter 10. Feasibility Study Plant Design

1. Introduction

2. General Site Issues

3. Crushing and Ore Storage

4. Grinding

5. Gravity Concentration

6. Leaching and Adsorption

7. Cyanide Detoxification and Tailings Disposal

8. Elution and Gold Room

9. Flotation

10. Refractory Ore Processing

11. Services and Utilities

12. Special Issues for Large Facilities

13. Constructability

14. Pitfalls in Feasibility Design


Chapter 11. Commissioning

1. Introduction

2. An Overview

3. Impact of Project Size, Contracting Strategy, and Process Complexity

4. Commissioning Planning

5. Precommissioning

6. Process Commissioning

7. Performance Verification and Testing

8. Postcommissioning Optimization

9. Definitions

Safety, Process Control and Environmental Management

Chapter 12. The International Cyanide Management Code: Ensuring Best Practice in the Gold Industry

1. Background

2. Continuing Code Development 2002–2005

3. The Cyanide Code

4. The Cyanide Code's Evolution

5. Is the Cyanide Code a Success?

6. Benefits and Costs

7. Challenges

Chapter 13. Approaches to Cyanide Code Compliance for Tailings Storage Facilities

1. Background

2. The International Cyanide Management Code

3. Tailings Storage Facilities

4. Moving Toward Compliance with the Code

5. Conclusions

Chapter 14. Process Control

1. Introduction

2. Measurements

3. Basics of Process Control

4. Advanced Control and Optimization

Closure and Rehabilitation

Chapter 15. Closure and Rehabilitation of Gold-Processing Plants

1. Process Closure and Clean-up

2. Relocation and Sale – Owners' Perspectives

3. Relocation and Sale – The Marketing Manager's Perspectives

4. Scrap, Recycle, and Reuse

5. Consideration of Heritage Values Before Closure and Decommissioning

6. Infrastructure Removal and Site Decommissioning

7. Closure Plant Sites – Contamination and Risk

8. Final Land Use and Rehabilitation – Plant Sites

Chapter 16. Closure and Rehabilitation of Gold Mines with a Focus on Tailings Storage Facilities

1. Standards and Closure Criteria

2. Closure Preparation, Provisioning, and Planning

3. Stakeholder Engagement and Acceptance of Plans

4. Decommission Planning, Rehabilitation, and Closure

5. Postclosure Management, Monitoring, and Relinquishment

6. Conclusions

Part II. Unit Operations

Comminution and Solid-LiquidSeparation

Chapter 17. Comminution Circuits for Gold Ore Processing

1. Introduction

2. Comminution Circuit Design Considerations

3. Mining Factors

4. Primary Crushing, and Stockpile Management

5. Primary Milling

6. Secondary Milling

7. Gold Recovery in Comminution Circuits

8. Alternative Grinding Technologies

9. Ore Sorting

Chapter 18. Liquid–Solid Separation in Gold Processing

1. Introduction

2. Sedimentation

3. Filtration

4. Conclusions


Chapter 19. Advances in Gravity Gold Technology

1. Introduction

2. Centrifuge Units

3. Gold Rooms: Tabling and Intensive Cyanidation

4. Measuring Metallurgical Performance

5. Conclusions and Future Trends

Chapter 20. Flotation of Gold and Gold-Bearing Ores

1. Background

2. Collectorless Flotation of Naturally Occurring Gold

3. Collectors in Gold Flotation

4. Frothers in Gold Flotation

5. Activators in Gold Flotation

6. Depression of Gold in Flotation

7. Flotation of Gold and Gold-Bearing Minerals

8. Influence of Conditions on Gold Flotation

9. Flotation Circuits

10. Flotation Practice

Oxidation of Sulfide Ores and Concentrates

Chapter 21. Pressure Oxidation Overview

1. Introduction

2. Gold Pressure Oxidation

3. Acidic Pressure Oxidation – Whole Ore

4. Alkaline Pressure Oxidation–Whole Ore

5. Acid and Alkaline Autoclave–Comparison

6. Acidic Pressure Oxidation–Concentrate

7. Pressure-Oxidation Summary

Chapter 22. Bacterial Oxidation of Refractory Gold Concentrates

1. Introduction and Background

2. Bacterial-Oxidation Plant Design and Practice

3. Comparison of Bacterial Oxidation with Process Alternatives

Chapter 23. Roasting Developments – Especially Oxygenated Roasting

1. Rabble Roasters

2. Fluidized-Bed Roasters

3. CFB Roasters

4. Oxygenated Roasters

5. Oxygenated Roasting

Chapter 24. Roasting of Gold Ore in the Circulating Fluidized-Bed Technology

1. History of Gold Ore Circulating Fluidized-Bed Roasting Technology

2. Fluid-Dynamic Background of Roasting and Pilot Testing

3. Some Advanced Metallurgical and Mineral Applications

4. Performance of Existing CFB Gold Roasters

5. Conclusions


Chapter 25. Heap Leaching of Gold and Silver Ores

1. Introduction

2. Factors Influencing Heap Leach Efficiency

3. Design

4. Conclusions

Chapter 26. Advances in the Cyanidation of Gold

1. Introduction

2. Mechanism of Cyanidation

3. Control Strategy for Cyanide, Oxygen, and Lead Nitrate

4. Applications

5. Conclusions

Chapter 27. Alternative Lixiviants to Cyanide for Leaching Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Thiosulfate Leaching

3. Thiourea Leaching

4. Halide Leaching

5. Oxidative Chloride Leach Processes

6. Sulfide/Bisulfide/Sulfite Leaching

7. Ammonia Leaching

8. Bacterial and Natural Acid Leaching

9. Thiocyanate Leaching

10. Recovery Processes

11. Economic Evaluation

12. Environmental Concerns

13. Conclusions

Chapter 28. Thiosulfate as an Alternative Lixiviant to Cyanide for Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Thiosulfate Leaching Chemistry

3. Copper Ammoniacal Thiosulfate System

4. Influence of Mineralogy on Thiosulfate Leaching

5. Impact of Certain Cations and Anions Species on Precious Metal Dissolution and Thiosulfate Degradation

6. Alternative Oxidant Thiosulfate Systems

7. Recovery Processes

8. Application of Thiosulfate to Treatment of Ores

9. Economic Considerations

10. Environmental Issues

11. Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 29. Chloride as an Alternative Lixiviant to Cyanide for Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Chloride-Based Processes for Gold Leaching

3. Commercial Chlorination Leaching Plants

4. Outlook for Direct Choride-Based Leaching of Gold

Gold Recovery

Chapter 30. Carbon-in-Pulp

1. Introduction

2. Activated Carbon

3. Modeling CIP Circuits

4. Circuit Design and Carbon Management Considerations

5. Conclusions

Chapter 31. Zinc Cementation

1. Introduction

2. Chemistry

3. History

4. Application

5. Basic Flowsheet

6. Equipment

7. Design Criteria

8. Operations

9. Advances

Chapter 32. Resin-in-Pulp and Resin-in-Solution

1. Introduction

2. Solution Chemistry of Cyanided Gold Pulps

3. Development of Gold-Selective Resins

4. Elution of Different Resin Types

5. Resin Evaluation Techniques

6. Relative Cost Comparison of RIP versus CIP

7. Recovery of Gold from Preg-Robbing Ores

8. Resin-in-Solution

9. RIP Plants

10. Conclusions

Chapter 33. Electrowinning

1. Background

2. Historical Developments

3. Electrowinning Cell Design

4. Special Applications

5. Key Aspects of Electrowinning Cell Design and Operation

Chapter 34. Refining of Gold- and Silver-Bearing Doré

1. Introduction

2. Industry Structure and the Gold and Silver Refining Business

3. Gold and Silver Doré

4. Refining of High-Gold Doré Materials

5. Refining of High-Silver Doré Materials

6. Deleterious Elements in Refining of Gold and Silver Doré

7. Future Developments in Doré Refining

Disposal of Residues

Chapter 35. Cyanide Treatment: Physical, Chemical, and Biological Processes

1. Introduction

2. Cyanide Management Plan

3. Analysis of Cyanide

4. Biological Cyanide Destruction Processes

5. Chemical Treatment Processes

6. Natural Cyanide Attenuation

7. Treatment of Cyanide-Related Compounds

8. Effluent and Discharge Strategies

9. Summary

Chapter 36. Cyanide Recovery

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Background

3. Practical Considerations

4. Process Alternatives

5. Environmental, Social, Health, and Safety Benefits of Cyanide Recycling

6. Conclusions

Chapter 37. Tailings Storage Facilities

1. Evolution of Tailings Management

2. Past Failures

3. Constraints and Drivers

4. Tailings Characterization

5. Risk-Based Design

6. Recent Advances

7. Tailings Water Management

8. TSF Closure and Completion

9. Future Possibilities

Chapter 38. Water Management in Gold Ore Processing

1. Introduction

2. Characterization of Predevelopment Conditions

3. Water Supply

4. Tailing Hydrology

5. Heap-Leach Hydrology

6. Site-Wide Water Balance

7. Discharge of Excess Water from the Site

8. Stormwater Management

9. Surface Water and Groundwater Protection

10. Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 39. Retreatment of Gold Residues

1. Introduction

2. Evaluation Phases

3. Sampling and Metallurgical Testwork

4. Evaluation

5. Operational Phase

6. Metallurgical Treatment

7. Environmental Rehabilitation

8. Process Flowsheets

Chapter 40. Practical Considerations in the Hydro Re-Mining of Gold Tailings

1. Introduction

2. Reclamation Methods

3. Starting Up an Re-Mining Site

4. Hydraulic Re-Mining

5. Conclusions

Chapter 41. Developments in Arsenic Management in the Gold Industry

1. Introduction

2. Chemistry and Precipitation of Arsenic

3. Stabilization Processes

4. Stability Testing and Regulatory Requirements

5. Conclusions

Chapter 42. Mercury in Gold Processing

1. Introduction

2. Mercury Deportment in Gold Processing

3. Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

4. Mercury Analysis

5. Mercury Control Technologies for Gaseous Streams

6. Legal Framework

7. Stabilization of Elemental Mercury

8. Above-Ground Storage of Elemental Mercury

9. Disposal – Underground

10. Conclusions

Part III. Case Study Flowsheets

Polymetallic Ores

Chapter 43. Gold-Copper Ores

1. Introduction

2. Chemistry of Copper Cyanides

3. Gold Recovery

4. Processes for Treating High-Copper Gold Ores

5. Copper and Cyanide Recovery Processes

6. Cyanide Recovery from Copper Cyanide

7. Alternative Lixiviants

Chapter 44. Case Study Flowsheets: Copper–Gold Concentrate Treatment

1. Introduction

2. Background of Sulfide Leaching

3. Copper–Gold Concentrate Treatment Processes

4. Conclusions

Chapter 45. Processing of High-Silver Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Fundamentals

3. Flow Sheet Selection

4. Indicative Plant Design Criteria

5. Conclusions

Chapter 46. Recovery of Gold as By-Product from the Base-Metals Industries

1. Introduction

2. Recovery of Gold in Copper Smelters

3. Recovery of Gold as a Byproduct from Nickel Sulfide Ores

4. Recovery of Gold in Zinc Smelters

5. Recovery of Gold from Lead Concentrates

6. Recovery of Gold from Cobalt Concentrates

7. Recovery of Gold from the Recycling of Electronic Scrap

8. Direct Leaching of Gold and PGMs from Ores or Concentrates

9. Conclusions

Chapter 47. Extraction of Gold from Platinum Group Metal Ores

1. Primary Extraction Circuits

2. Gold Extraction from Secondary Sources

3. Hydrometallurgical Gold Processes in Precious Metal Refineries

4. Conclusions

Refractory Ores

Chapter 48. Refractory Sulfide Ores—Case Studies

1. Introduction

2. Sansu Project, Ashanti Goldfields Corporation (Ghana)

3. Kanowna Belle Project (Western Australia)

4. Macraes Gold Project (New Zealand)

Chapter 49. Preg-Robbing Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Carbonaceous Matter and Gold Adsorption

3. Treatment of Carbonaceous Ore

4. Noncarbonaceous Preg-Robbing

5. Examples of Plant Practice

6. Practical Ore Characterization

Chapter 50. Double-Refractory Carbonaceous Sulfidic Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Processing Alternatives

3. Process Facilities in Nevada

Chapter 51. Treatment of Gold–Telluride Ores

1. Introduction

2. Historical Treatment Methods

3. Modern Developments

Chapter 52. Treatment of Antimonial Gold Ores

1. Introduction

2. Fundamentals

3. Commercial Operations

4. New Plant Design

Other Gold-Bearing Materials

Chapter 53. Gold – A Key Enabler of a Circular Economy: Recycling of Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment

1. A Circular Economy – Gold's Key Role

2. Product-Centric Recycling of Gold – Enabling a Circular Economy

3. Opportunities and Limits of Recycling of Gold From WEEE

4. Designing a CE – Quantifying the Resource Efficiency of Figure 53.1

5. Conclusion: Enabling System-Integrated Metal Production of the CE


Summary of Gold Plants and Processes, Emerging and Transformational Technologies

Chapter 54. Summary of Gold Plants and Processes

1. Introduction

2. Summary of Gold Plants and Processes

3. Conclusions

Chapter 55. Emerging and Transformational Gold Processing Technologies

1. Introduction

2. Moore's Law and Gold Processing Technologies

3. Cyanide: A Sustainable Future in Gold Ore Processing?

4. Fire and Water: Will Hydroprocessing Supersede Smelting?

5. In Situ and Solution Mining

6. Gold Demand: Future Uses for Gold Products

7. Gold Supply: Nontraditional Sources

8. Outlook for Transformative Gold Processing





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List of Contributors

S. Acar,     Acar Consulting LLC, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

M.D. Adams,     Fugue Pte Ltd, Singapore

N. Ahern,     AuTec Innovative Extractive Solutions Ltd., Vancouver, BC, Canada

A.U. Akcil,     Suleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey

C. Aldrich,     Western Australian School of Mines, Perth, Australia

J.E. Angove,     AFT Metallurgy, North Beach, WA, Australia

E. Asselin,     The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

M.G. Aylmore,     John de Laeter Centre, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

J.Y. Baron,     Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc., Carlin, NV, USA

P. Bateman,     International Cyanide Management Institute, Washington, DC, USA

G. Beale,     Schlumberger, Denver, CO, USA

M.M. Botz,     Elbow Creek Engineering, Sheridan, WY, USA

P. Breuer,     CSIRO, Perth, WA, Australia

N. Briggs,     Sedgman Limited, Perth, WA, Australia

A.R.G. Brown,     Allan RG Brown & Associates Pty Ltd, Booragoon, WA, Australia

A. Charitos,     Outotec GmbH & Co. KG, Oberursel, Germany

Y. Choi,     Barrick Gold Corporation, Toronto, ON, Canada

S.L. Chryssoulis,     Amtel, London, ON, Canada

A.P. Cole,     Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc., Elko, NV, USA

M. Costello,     Previously Lycopodium Ltd., Perth, WA, Australia

F.K. Crundwell,     CM Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Johannesburg, South Africa

G. Deschênes,     BBA Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada

X. Díaz

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito, Ecuador

D. Donato,     Donato Environmental Services, Adelaide, Australia

D.B. Dreisinger,     University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

R. Dunne,     Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University (Gold Technology Group), Perth, WA, Australia

S. Ellis,     Perth, WA, Australia

C.J. Ferron,     HydroProc Consultants, Peterborough, ON, Canada

S. Flatman,     Previously AngloGold Ashanti, Ergo Operation, Brakpan, South Africa

C.A. Fleming,     SGS Minerals, Lakefield, ON, Canada

M. Fullam,     FLSmidth Ltd, Knelson Technologies, Langley, BC, Canada

A. Götz,     Fraser Alexander, Boksburg, South Africa

S. Gray,     Gekko Systems Pty Ltd, Ballarat, VIC, Australia

B. Green,     Retired (previously Mintek, Randburg, South Africa)

N. Greenwald,     International Cyanide Management Institute, Washington, DC, USA

Y. Gu,     Yingsheng Technology, Darra, Queensland, Australia

J. Güntner,     Outotec GmbH & Co. KG, Oberursel, Germany

F. Habashi,     Department of Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada

J. Hammerschmidt,     Outotec GmbH & Co. KG, Oberursel, Germany

R.J. Holmes,     CSIRO Mineral Resources, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

D.G. Hulbert,     Retired (previously Mintek, Randburg, South Africa)

M. Jeffrey,     Newmont, Denver, CO, USA

E. Johanson,     Lycopodium Engineering Pty Ltd., Perth, WA, Australia

J. Johnson,     WesTech Engineering, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT, USA

D.W. Kappes,     Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, Reno, NV, USA

B. Kerstiens,     Outotec GmbH & Co. KG, Oberursel, Germany

M. Kotze,     Lanxess, South Africa (previously Mintek, Randburg, South Africa)

G. Kyriakakis,     Extractive Resources LLC, Townville, SC, USA

H. Lacy,     MWH Global, Perth, WA, Australia

G. Lane,     Ausenco Limited, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

G.T. Lapidus,     Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Mexico

A. Laplante,     Metallurgist (1953–2006)

D. Lunt,     Stirling Process Engineering Limited, Lincoln, UK

J. Mackenzie,     Murdoch Mackenzie Metallurgy, Perth, Australia

T.J. Manning,     Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, Reno, NV, USA

M.L. McCaslin,     WesTech Engineering, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT, USA

J. McMullen,     J. McMullen & Associates (previously Barrick Gold Corporation), Toronto, ON, Canada

P. Messenger,     Ausenco Limited, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

M. Millard,     Metallurgist (1951–2007)

J.D. Miller,     University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

P. Miller,     Sulphide Resource Processing Pty Ltd, Hillarys, WA, Australia

J. Mitchell,     Previously AngloGold Ashanti, Ergo Operation, Brakpan, South Africa

M.B. Mooiman,     Franklin Pierce University, Manchester, NH, USA

J.B. Mosher,     Freeport McMoRan Inc., Phoenix, AZ, USA

T.I. Mudder,     Times Ltd., Sheridan, WY, USA

A. Muir,     Previously AngloGold Ashanti, Ergo Operation, Brakpan, South Africa

J. Muller,     Onkaparinga Mining & Metallurgy Pty Ltd, Perth, WA, Australia

N.D. Overdevest,     Donato Environmental Services, Adelaide, Australia

M.S. Pearson,     Autoclave Technology Group, Hatch Ltd, Mississauga, ON, Canada

M. Reuter,     Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Freiberg, Germany

D. Rogers,     Lycopodium Engineering Pty Ltd., Perth, WA, Australia

P. Rohner,     Core Resources, Brisbane, Australia

A. Ryan,     Lycopodium Engineering Pty Ltd., Perth, WA, Australia

C. Sabbagha,     Previously AngloGold Ashanti, Ergo Operation, Brakpan, South Africa

B. Sceresini,     Australian Mining, Perth, WA, Australia

R. Shaw,     Goldcorp Inc., Vancouver, BC, Canada

L. Simpson,     Elemetal Refining, Jackson, OH, USA

H. Smith,     KWA Kenwalt Australia, Perth, WA, Australia

W.P. Staunton,     Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

D. Stephenson,     Ausenco Limited, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

K.G. Thomas,     Ken Thomas & Associates Inc., Oakville, ON, Canada

A. van Schaik,     MARAS, Material Recycling and Sustainability, Den Haag, The Netherlands

M. Virnig,     BASF (previously Cognis Corporation), Tucson, AZ, USA

R. Walton,     Ray Walton Consulting Inc., Aurora, ON, Canada

R.-Y. Wan,     Metallurgist (1932–2009)

J. Wates,     Fraser Alexander, Boksburg, South Africa

B. Watson,     Consep Pty, Perth, WA, Australia

T. Weeks,     Aquila Ventures Pty Ltd, Perth, WA, Australia

D. Williams,     Golder Associates, Perth, WA, Australia

J. Zhou,     Joe Zhou Mineralogy Ltd, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada


The first edition of Advances in Gold Ore Processing arrived at a time when the gold price had increased from low values of around US$270/troy oz in 2001 to an average of $444/troy oz in 2005. Since that time, the price has soared, reaching an average of $1669/troy oz in 2012 before softening to the 2015 levels of $1100/troy oz. This remarkable performance has led to a resurgence in primary gold production worldwide, as well as renewed interest in exploration, research, development, and technological innovation throughout the industry. However, this has been tempered to a significant extent by a near-threefold increase in cash operating costs from $269/troy oz in 2005 to $750/troy oz in 2014 and similar increased ratios in capital costs for new (Greenfield) and expansion production capacity. Capital cost intensity for new gold production capacity now ranges from $1500 to $4500/annual troy oz produced, depending on the ore feed grade, processing method, byproducts, and ore complexity. This leaves much of the industry facing significant challenges to profitability for existing operations and for adding new capacity. A key part of this story is that average ore grades have decreased significantly from about 1.8  g/t in 2005 to approximately 1.3  g/t in 2014. Ore deposits are being developed with increasingly complex mineralogy and metallurgical properties as the more easily treatable resources are depleted. This not only adds to the cost of extraction, both capital and operating but also increases the development time for projects and adds technical risk.

The global gold production profile was very different in 2005. South Africa was the top producer with 300 metric tons, followed by Australia, United States, China, and Peru. Total global gold production increased from almost 2520 metric tons in 2005 to over 3100 metric tons in 2014; however, China increased its production to take the top position, followed by Australia, Russia, United States, and Peru. Much of China's production comes from small, distributed deposits, using conventional technology that can be applied effectively at a small scale – for example, gravity concentration, flotation, amalgamation, cyanidation, and direct smelting/processing of concentrates. In parallel with this, production from many of the major producing mines dropped off significantly, such as Yanacocha, Peru (Newmont Gold), and Driefontein, South Africa (Gold Fields). This serves to underscore the dramatic changes that have occurred within the industry over the past 10  years.

Turning to the processing aspects of the industry, gold ore processing is dominated by the cyanidation process. Since the inception of the process in the late 1800s, cyanide has been used widely to extract gold because of its relatively low cost, great effectiveness for gold and silver dissolution, selectivity for gold and silver over other metals, as well as relative ease and efficiency of metal recovery from solution. Also, despite some concerns over the toxicity of cyanide, it can be applied with little risk to human health and the environment. The oxidant most commonly used in cyanide leaching is oxygen, usually supplied from air, which contributes to the attractiveness of the process.

Since the mid-1970s, alternative leaching reagent schemes to cyanide have been investigated for any or combinations of the following reasons:

• Environmental pressures, and in some cases restrictions or limitations, may make the application of cyanide difficult in certain locations;

• Some alternative reagent schemes provide faster gold (and/or silver) leaching kinetics;

• Several can be applied in acidic media, which may be more suitable for refractory ore treatment, and

• Some are more selective than cyanide for gold and silver over other metals, such as copper and zinc.

Some of the more important reagent systems that have been investigated (or reinvestigated) are chlorine–chloride, thiosulfate, thiocyanate, thiourea, ammonia, ammonia–cyanide, alkaline sulfide, and other halide combinations. Aside from the advantages listed here, all of the alternative reagent schemes have disadvantages compared with cyanide and, at this time, none appear to be widely applicable, at least not without further significant advances in the technology. However, thiosulfate has emerged as the front runner of the alternative schemes for niche applications, and Barrick Gold has advanced and implemented the commercial development of thiosulfate technology to treat carbonaceous ‘preg-robbing’ material at Goldstrike in Nevada. Carbonaceous, preg-robbing ores are the primary potential application for this emerging technology.

The application of ultrafine grinding to treat ores and concentrates by liberating gold and silver values from sulfides has gained momentum following the development of efficient fine-milling equipment, including the Xstrata IsaMill, the Metso SMD Detritor, and the Metprotech mill as options. These developments paved the way for more efficient grinding down to finer sizes, around 80% passing 10–15  μm and below ― hence, the term ultrafine grinding. Also, further development of the Metso Vertimill following many successful tertiary grinding and regrinding installations has led to its consideration for ultrafine grinding applications (down to about 80% less than 15  μm). Other fine grinding mills are in development. The ability to economically grind to such fine sizes presented the opportunity to liberate precious metals from refractory sulfide ores and concentrates without the need for more costly oxidative treatment, such as roasting, pressure oxidation, and biological oxidation. While not the first to use ultrafine grinding to treat concentrates, the application at Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM, Western Australia) in 2001 to treat refractory sulfide gold ore to supplement the roaster capacity opened up the technology to the industry. The ultrafine milled product was cyanide leached, achieving a gold recovery of over 90%. This was a significant development as it was the first major commercial application to avoid the need for oxidative pretreatment. Ultrafine grinding has subsequently been installed at Kumtor (Kyrgyzstan) in 2005, Pogo (Alaska) in 2006, and Lake Cowal (Australia) in 2006. The product grind sizes were 80% less than 12  μm, 80% less than 10  μm, and 80% less than 15  μm, respectively, for these operations. In 2015, many other operations are considering or using a similar processing approach, emphasizing the need for continued research and development in this area.

During the past 10  years or so, significant innovations have occurred in process mineralogy. At the forefront of this work has been the development of automated scanning electron microscopy techniques (e.g., QEMSCAN, provided by FEI, and the Mineral Liberation Analyzer, developed by the JK Institute of Technology, Australia). These techniques are now well known to most in the industry, and the significance of being able to perform accurate, quantitative, mineralogical analysis on representative samples of ore, intermediate processing products, and residues from projects and operations cannot be overstated. The individual mineral grain identification and quantification, size-by-size analysis, and mineral liberation/locking analyses that can be generated have revolutionized the approach to design and optimization of mineral and metal extraction worldwide. Other advanced mineralogical techniques are also now available that provide important diagnostics for gold and silver recovery optimization, troubleshooting, and process design.

Other key areas of process developments that are covered within this volume include the following:

• Centrifugal gravity concentration equipment, with increasing volume treatment rates

• Intensive leaching equipment and systems to most effectively treat high-grade gravity and flotation concentrates

• Enhanced heap-leaching technology, especially cold climate and dry climate operations and the potential use of high-pressure grinding rolls to prepare heap leach feed material

• Refractory ore processing, including improved pressure oxidation and roasting technology

• Continued and improved application of biological oxidation to treat flotation concentrates

• Gold–copper and copper–gold ore treatment, including the use of sulfidization, acidification, recycle, and thickening (SART) technology and effective control of cyanide speciation

In parallel with these processing developments, a major effort with respect to the gold extraction industry was the publication of the International Cyanide Management Code (2002), to which most of the major gold and silver producers that use cyanide have committed to follow. This code was developed by the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI), a nonprofit organization set up under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME). All of this activity represented significantly increased emphasis on the control and treatment of gold extraction byproducts and effluents, which should be considered as an integral part of gold extraction processes. Detoxification of cyanide solutions and slurries is an important aspect of gold ore processing globally and there are many alternatives for detoxification of cyanide-containing solutions. Where applicable, the preferred method is to allow the cyanide concentration to decay naturally through the carbon-in-pulp/carbon-in-leach (CIP/CIL) circuit to the point at which it reaches levels acceptable for discharge to the tailings containment facility. There are many operations that are able to meet strict discharge limits to tailings facilities without the need for any form of cyanide destruction other than natural degradation over time. However, these operations carefully manage cyanide concentrations down the leaching and CIP/CIL circuit, as well as wash ratios in thickeners, using re-circulated, reclaimed or fresh water in the circuit. The cyanide degrades further over time in the tailings facility, ultimately to non-toxic products, and the understanding of such degradation processes has improved significantly over the past 25–30  years, including natural degradation of free, weak acid-dissociable (WAD) and total cyanide species, thiocyanate, and cyanate. The use of tailings thickeners and, where necessary, tailings filtration can assist with recovering and recycling cyanide-bearing solution. All of these practices help to reduce cyanide naturally within the overall extraction circuit.

Where the above methods are not sufficient to meet the Cyanide Code guidelines (e.g., ≤50  mg/L WAD cyanide discharge to tailings storage facilities) and/or regulatory environmental requirements, other methods of detoxification must be used, with the exception of some operations using the hypersaline process water in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, where natural processes provide a Code-certifiable protective mechanism. After almost 30  years of application at operations throughout the world, the use of sulfur dioxide–air has become the preferred and most cost-effective method of cyanide destruction where natural degradation is not adequate. Many other methods have been tested and used commercially; for example, hydrogen peroxide and Caro's acid (hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid) have both been used successfully at a variety of operations in various configurations.

Water conservation is, and will continue to be, an area for innovation and this is highlighted in this second edition. Dry-stacked tailing, such as used at La Coipa (Chile), has additional benefits of cyanide recycling and reduced environmental concerns for groundwater contamination. Use of brackish and saline water is commonplace in Western Australia and is currently extending to applications in Chile and Peru.

An important lesson from all of the major innovations in gold and silver extraction is that innovations are rarely eureka moments, but rather they result from a sustained period of testing, investigating, modifying, and improving a particular technological approach to a problem. In the case of cyanidation, carbon adsorption, heap leaching, and refractory ore treatment processes, the technology had been known, and versions of each process had been patented, tested and tried for several decades. Those who successfully commercialized these innovations learned from the prior versions of the technology, borrowed from other branches of the industry (and in some cases from other industries), and improved the application of the technology with often simple modifications. The first-user recognized the benefit of the emerging technology over the incumbent process; they were persistent and relentless in their pursuit of successful commercialization; and in all cases they relied on innovative and tenacious process operators (not necessarily the inventor or researcher) to implement the technology effectively. Success was not intuitively obvious in these efforts, and in most cases there were several failures or, at best, marginal and/or small applications of the technology that preceded widespread commercialization.

As such, this second edition is particularly timely and valued. The format used in the first edition has been retained, but the number of chapters has been expanded to cover important issues such as geometallurgical developments, Cyanide Code compliance, alternative lixiviants, water management, arsenic and mercury management, gold recovery from e-waste, and emerging and transformational gold processing technologies ― a significant enhancement and update to the previous edition. The contributing authors represent an excellent global cross section of gold metallurgists, researchers, developers, and experts in related fields. Mike D. Adams is to be congratulated on bringing together this valuable contribution to the literature on gold extraction and processing.

John O. Marsden, PE,     Phoenix, Arizona, USA

August 21, 2015

Preface to Second Edition

This second edition of Gold Ore Processing arrives a decade after the first edition was published in 2005 and has established itself as a widespread reference work in the gold processing and mining industry. A revised and extended edition was therefore timely. The 55 chapters in this second edition volume bring together many technical aspects of relevance to gold ore processing, from project feasibility study stage, through operations stage to the closure and rehabilitation stage. The various process flowsheet unit operations that may be applicable to any particular ore type are covered, along with new emerging trends and potentially transformational technologies. In addition to updates of the existing chapters, advances in several fields have necessitated extensive rewrites, sometimes with new authors. On the other hand, scant developments in several mature areas meant that revision was not warranted, with editorial comments providing some measure of update.

This edition incorporates 13 new chapters, including some 90 contributing authors, spanning environmental considerations, modern instrumental techniques, and emerging technologies. Additional topics covered are as diverse as the evaluation and funding of capital projects, solid–liquid separation, alternative lixiviants, gold refining, tailings treatment, and recycling of electronic waste in the circular economy. A new chapter on geometallurgy and automated mineralogy has been included. Increasing emphasis on environmental aspects in gold mining has resulted in additional chapters covering management of arsenic and mercury, as well as water management. At the time of the first edition, the International Cyanide Management Code was in its infancy—after a decade of progress, two new chapters have now been contributed, covering perspectives from both regulator and auditor.

Existing chapters have been updated to include relevant new processes, flowsheets, technologies, and philosophies. Examples and indicative data, as well as industry profiles for particular technologies, have been reviewed and revised for currency and relevancy. Some chapters have additional co-authors or lead authors. Sadly, first edition contributors André Laplante, David Muir, Rong-Yu Wan, and Martin Millard have passed on in the intervening 10  years since the first edition was published.

This book should be of use across the gold industry, and it is hoped that metallurgists, geologists, chemists, mining engineers, managers, financiers, operations, projects, and research staff alike will find the content both useful and stimulating.

Mike D. Adams


Preface to First Edition

The gold-processing industry is experiencing change. As free-milling and oxide ores become depleted, more complex polymetallic and refractory ores are being processed, coupled with increasing pressure for stricter environmental compliance. Recent years have also seen a steady reduction in mineral processing and metallurgy graduates and a gradual loss of older operating experience. A contribution to documenting current and future best practice in gold ore processing seems timely.

The focus of this volume is on advances in current gold plant operation, from conception to closure; each chapter also covers recent innovations at the bench and pilot-scale level that would be expected to find commercial application at some stage. Coverage of essential chemistry and engineering aspects is included.

Part I of the book focuses on project development, with an emphasis on the various aspects of feasibility study management and taking the path through commissioning, safety and environmental management in operation, and finally closure of both plant and tailings storage facility. With increasing pressures on the resource company to ensure minimal socioenvironmental impact through the entire life cycle of the mine, it is important to aim at getting it right the first time.

Part II centres on the process plant, sequentially probing the generic gold processing flowsheet for advances, best practice, and potential future practical innovations. This is the heart of the book; there is coverage of the various unit operations involved with comminution, concentration, oxidation, leaching, gold recovery, and disposal of residues and effluents. Innovations described in the comminution chapter include those undertaken at Freeport, which is one of the largest gold mills in the world (despite being a copper mine). Concentration of gold by gravity has seen innovation driven partly by the development of new items of equipment and novel application within the milling circuit, such as is now commonplace in areas such as western Australia. Flotation has similarly been influenced by the advent of flash and column flotation, as well as the application of differential floats for complex ores.

Treatment of refractory ores has necessarily become increasingly important, and the section covering pressure and bacterial oxidation as well as roasting (both oxygenated and fluidized bed) has particular relevance to the modern gold metallurgist. While these technologies can now be deemed as established, the recent advances outlined in the book are clearly both novel and practical. Development of methods that increase recoveries while decreasing reagent consumption by minimizing cyanicide formation are clearly at the forefront of these areas and further development is certain.

Again, in the leaching section, the emphasis is on treatment of problematic ores such as those arising from oxidation processes. There has been a drive in recent years toward the development of alternative lixiviants for gold, mainly as a result of environmental pressures. The most likely candidate for niche application is thiosulfate leaching; the amount of recent work in this area has warranted inclusion of this topic as a separate chapter. Cyanide has seen practical application for more than 100  years now, and this will continue, with the ongoing positive initiatives in cyanide management such as the Cyanide Code (which has also warranted a chapter in its own right) and the inherent benefits of a reagent that, in a well-designed flowsheet, is low level and biodegradable.

Advances in the recovery of gold from leach solution are again influenced by developments in equipment and reagents. Ongoing improvements in the refining of gold are also being made. Innovations such as the Anglo American Corporation (AAC) pump cell contactor and gold-selective resin-in-pulp (RIP) have found niche application at a few operating plants. The extent of their use will depend on a number of factors, but the trend toward polymetallic and refractory ores is likely to open up new applications that may require some innovative flowsheeting if the base-metal and precious-metal values are both to be economically recovered.

There is another area that has a positive bearing on the future of cyanide in gold processing. The application of cyanide detoxification or recovery processes into flowsheets is becoming much more prevalent. This may well again reflect an increasing sense of environmental stewardship by resource companies, undoubtedly driven by the need for the two prongs of public and operator perception to meet in a common reality. A number of new technologies for the economic recovery and recycle of cyanide from plant tailings have now been developed, and this may well be a key element to the ongoing responsible use of cyanide. Perhaps the main area where public perception has been negatively influenced has been with tailings storage facilities. Placement of paste or dry tailings using techniques such as centrally thickened discharge, for example, is an innovation that addresses issues of dam stability and water recovery, while resulting in a more natural-looking landform on closure.

Part III assesses the principles and developments outlined in the first two parts, by means of focused case studies of typical flowsheets for the two major types of problematic gold ores that are being encountered – polymetallic and refractory ores. A distinction is made on economic grounds between gold–copper ores and copper–gold ores; process flowsheets and issues differ between the two. Ores containing high silver, base-metal and platinum-group metal (PGM) grades will continue to be more often in resource companies' fields of view as the quest for pay dirt continues. As orebodies become more complex, so, too, do the process flowsheets, with an increasing reliance on hydrometallurgical treatments that result in a variety of products, not only gold but also copper, nickel, cobalt, silver, PGMs, and sometimes lead and zinc.

While refractory sulfides have been around for some time, an understanding is being gained of the subtle chemistry that can arise in high-pressure autoclaves treating a sometimes extensive mix of different sulfide minerals. As both the knowledge base and the number of applications increase, so the risk of applying these processes becomes smaller. The same can be said of other problematic ores, such as carbonaceous preg-robbing, tellurides, and antimonial ores.

The general principle behind the structure of the volume is that of flowsheeting based on unit operations and applied to a mineralogical classification of gold ore types. Knowledge of the mineralogy of an orebody is the key to unlocking the wealth contained within. The extensive chapter covering this aspect necessarily does so through process eyes; flowsheet definition can then follow using the building blocks composing the unit operations described in the second part of the volume.

Practical experience is vital to the successful development, operation, and closure of any operation. The 42 chapters have been contributed by a total of 66 authors and coauthors who are experts from countries spanning the globe and represent exhaustive practical knowledge covering many disciplines relevant to gold processing. Within the chapters are numerous tidbits of practical personal experience, much of which is as yet unpublished. The content will be useful to operators, engineers and researchers worldwide.

The original intention was to provide a selection of appendices covering SI units, conversion factors, pulp density tables, and the like. The ready availability of this information on the internet has made their inclusion redundant; however, a periodic table kindly made available by Prof. Fathi Habashi has been included.

This book is intended for mineral-processing engineers, metallurgists, process mineralogists, mining engineers, environmental engineers and consultants, and resource company managers. It will be of interest to professionals and students alike.

Mike D. Adams



This volume reflects the efforts of a body of some 90 expert individuals, including the corresponding authors and co-contributors of the 55 chapters, who are thanked for their willingness to assist with this endeavor and for the hours spent toward generating this exhaustive update. Gratitude is expressed to the various companies that are represented in the authorship, for their permission to allow the authors to tackle their contributions and, in some cases, for the supply of material and permission to publish illustrations and photographs. The hard work, patience, and cooperation in particular of Marisa LaFleur (Editorial Project Manager), and of Amy Shapiro (Acquisitions Editor, Earth and Planetary Sciences) and Mohanapriyan Rajendran (Production Project Manager), with this major undertaking are gratefully acknowledged. Many thanks are also due to Carol Adams for her patience with this commitment and for preparing some of the illustrations.

List of Acronyms

AAC   Anglo American Corporation

AARL   Anglo American Research Laboratories

AAS   atomic absorption spectroscopy

ABA   Acid-base accounting

AC   activated carbon

ACF   Auditor Credentials Form

ADIS   Automated Digital Image System

AG   autogenous grinding

AGC   Ashanti Goldfields Company

AI   artificial intelligence

AI   abrasion index

AIA   automated image-analysis

AIChE   American Institute of Chemical Engineers

AIME   American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers

AMD   acid mine-drainage

AMICS   Advanced Mineral Identification and Characterisation System

ANC   acid neutralizing capacity

ANFO   ammonium nitrate and fuel oil

APELL   Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level

ARD   acid rock drainage

ASGM   artisanal and small-scale gold mining

ASTM   American Society for Testing and Materials (now ASTM International)

AusIMM   Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

AVR   Acidification-volatilization-regeneration

AWWA   American Water Works Association

BAT   best available technology

BBMWI   Bond ball-mill work index

BDAT   best-demonstrated available technology

BEP   best environmental practice

BFB   bubbling fluidized bed

BGMI   Barrick Goldstrike Mines

BMP   best management practice

BRMWI   Bond rod-mill work index

BRPS   Bright/Rare Phase Search

BSE   back-scattered electron

BTAC-CIL   bench-top autoclaving followed by carbon-in-leach

BTU   British Thermal Unit

CAP   Corrective Action Plan

CAPEX   capital expenditure

CCD   counter-current decantation

CCTV   closed-circuit television

CCW   counter-current wash

CE   circular economy

CEC   cation exchange capacity

CELP   CANMET Enhanced Leach Process

CEN   Committee for Standardization

CEPA   Canadian Environmental Protection Act

CESL   Cominco Engineering Services Limited

CFB   circulating fluidized bed

CFD   computational fluid dynamics

CIL   carbon-in-leach

CIM   Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum

CIP   carbon-in-pulp

CIS   carbon-in-solution

CIS   Commonwealth of Independent States

CM   carbonaceous matter

CMC   carboxy-methylcellulose

COMEX   Commodity Exchange

CPS   controlled-potential sulfidization

CSTR   continuous stirred-tank reactor

CTC   carbon-tetrachloride activity

CTD   centrally thickened discharge

CVAAS   cold-vapour atomic-absorption spectroscopy

CVAFS   cold-vapour atomic-fluorescence spectrometry

CWI   crushing work index

DAFR   Detailed Audit Findings Report

DCF   discounted cash flow

DCS   distributed control system

DETA   diethylenetriamine

DfD   Design for Disassembly

DfR   Design for Recycling

DfRE   Design for Resource Efficiency

DFS   definitive feasibility study

DNA   dionylamine

DO   dissolved oxygen

DOE   Department of Energy

DPO   dynamic process optimization

DR   direct reduction

D-SIMS   dynamic secondary-ion mass spectrometry

DWI   drop weight index

EBRD   European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

EDS   energy-dispersive spectrometry

EDTA   ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid

EDX   energy-dispersive X-ray analysis

EEE   electric and electronic equipment

EFA   ecosystem function analysis

EHS   environmental, health and safety

EMS   engineered membrane separation

ENR   enhanced natural removal

EoL   End-of-Life

EPA   Environmental Protection Agency

EPC   engineering, procurement and construction

EPCM   engineering, procurement and construction management

EPMA   electron-probe microanalysis

ESP   electrostatic precipitator

EU   European Union

EW   electrowinning

FAG   fully autogenous grinding

FAMS   flue gas adsorbent mercury speciation

FAT   factory acceptance testing

FB   fluidized bed

FRP   fiber-reinforced plastic

FSTM   flue gas sorbent total mercury

FSU   former Soviet Union

FTIR   Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy

G&A   general and administrative

GGFL   Gekko gravity-float-leach

GPS   global positioning system

GRG   gravity-recoverable gold

GSA   global sensitivity analysis

HAZOP   hazard and operability study

HBF   horizontal-belt filter

HCR   hydrograph controlled release

HDPE   high-density polyethylene

HMSO   Her Majesty's Stationery Office

HOPG   highly organized pyrolytic graphite

HPGR   high-pressure grinding rolls

HR-TEM   high-resolution transmission electron microscopy

HSGE   high-speed gold-electrolysis

HSSE   high-speed silver-electrolysis

ICME   International Council on Metals and the Environment

ICMI   International Cyanide Management Institute

ICOLD   International Commission on Large Dams

IEP   isoelectric point

IFC   International Finance Corporation

ILR   Inline Leach Reactor

IMM   Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

IoT   Internet-of-Things

Io(M)T   Internet-of-(Metallurgical)-Things

IPMI   International Precious Metals Institute

IPS   integrated pressure strip

IR   industrial relations

IRMA   Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance

IRR   internal rate of return

ISO   International Standards Organization

KPI   key performance indicator

LBMA   London Bullion Market Association

LCA   life-cycle assessment

LCD   liquid crystal diode

LED   light-emitting diode

L-ICP-MS   laser inductively coupled-plasma mass-spectrometry

LME   London Metal Exchange

LPG   liquid petroleum gas

LSTK   lump-sum turn key

MAC   magnetic activated carbon

MAC   Mining Association of Canada

MBT   mercaptobenzothiozole

MCC   Motor Control Centre

MCL   maximum contaminant level

MEBA   Mercury Export Ban Act

MGS   Mozley Gravity Separator

MIBC   methyl isobutyl carbinol

MIBK   methyl isobutyl ketone

MLA   Mineral Liberation Analyzer

MLS   Mozley Laboratory Separator

MNR   Metallgesellschaft Natural Resources

MPA   maximum potential acidity

MPC   model predictive control

MWMP   Meteoric Water Mobility Procedure

NAG   net acid generation

NAPP   net acid-producing potential

NCV   net carbonate value

NGO   non-governmental organization

NHE   normal hydrogen electrode

NIR   near infrared

NPI   National Pollutant Inventory

NPRI   National Pollutant Release Inventory

NPV   net present value

NRS   net smelter return

NSG   non-sulfide gangue

OCS   optimizing control systems

OM   optical microscopy

OPEX   operating expense

ORP   oxidation-reduction potential

OSA   optical spectrum analyzer

OT   Outokumpu Technology

PAX   potassium amyl xanthate

PC   personal computer

PCA   principal component analysis

PCB   printed circuit board

PCS   process control system

PECTU   N-propyl-N-ethoxycarbonyl thiourea

PFS   preliminary feasibility study

PGMs   platinum-group metals

PI   proportional-integral (feedback control-loops)

PIXE   particle-induced X-ray emission

PLC   programmable logic controller

PLS   partial least squares

PLS   pregnant leach solution

PMs   precious metals

POX   pressure oxidation

PP   polypropylene

PPE   personal protective equipment

PSA   pressure-swing adsorption

PSD   particle-size distribution

PTFE   polytetrafluoroethylene

PTFI   PT Freeport Indonesia

PVC   polyvinyl chloride

PVDF   polyvinylidenedifluoride

QA   quality assurance

QEMSCAN   Quantitative Evaluation of Materials by Scanning Electron Microscopy

RBC   rotating biological contactor

REQCM   rotating electrochemical quartz-crystal microbalance

RIL   resin-in-leach

RIP   resin-in-pulp

RIS   resin-in-solution

RLE   roast-leach-electrowinning

ROI   return on investment

ROL   rapid oxidative leach

ROM   run-of mine

RPS   rare phase search

SABC   SAG mill/ball mill/crusher

SAG   semi-autogenous grinding

SAIMM   South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

SALI   surface analysis by laser ionization

SAR   Summary Audit Report

SART   sulfidization-acidification-recycling-thickening

SCE   saturated calomel electrode

SCR   selective catalytic reduction

SDGM   Sunrise Dam Gold Mine

SEM   scanning electron microscopy

SEM/EDX   scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray analysis

SERS   surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

SET   silver-enhancement treatment

SG   specific gravity

SHE   standard hydrogen electrode

SIBX   sodium isobutyl xanthate

SIMP   system integrated metal production

SIMS   secondary-ion mass spectrometry

SLS   sodium lauryl sulfate

SMC   SAG Mill Comminution

SME   Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration

SPI   SAG Power Index

SPL   sparse phase liberation

SPLP   synthetic precipitation leaching procedure

SWEP   special waste extraction procedure

SX   solvent extraction

TBRC   top-blown rotary converter

TCLP   toxicity characteristics leaching procedure

TCM   total carbonaceous matter

TDM   tertiary dodecyl mercaptan

TDS   total dissolved solids

TIMA   TESCAN Integrated Mineral Analyser

TLV   threshold limiting value

TMS   The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society

TOA   trioctylamine

TOC   total organic carbon

TOF-LIMS   time-of-flight laser-ionization mass spectrometry

TOF-RIMS   time-of-flight resonant-ionization mass spectrometry

TOF-SIMS   time-of-flight secondary-ion mass spectrometry

TOMAC   trioctylmethylammonium chloride

TRI   Toxics Release Inventory

TSF   tailings storage facility

UBC   University of British Columbia

UCS   unconfined compressive strength

UFG   ultra-fine grinding

UFM   ultra-fine milling

UNEP   United Nations Environment Programme

US EPA   United States Environmental Protection Agency

USMR   US Metals Refining

UV   ultraviolet

VAW   Vereinigte Aluminium Werke

VMS   volcanogenic massive sulfide

VUV   vacuum ultraviolet

VUV-TOF-LIMS   vacuum ultraviolet TOF-LIMS

WACC   weighted average cost of capital

WAD   weak-acid dissociable (cyanide)

WDX   wavelength-dispersive X-ray analysis

WEEE   waste electrical and electronic equipment

WGC   World Gold Council

WHO   World Health Organization

WoM   Web of Metals

WoP   Web of Products

WWF   Worldwide Fund for Nature

XANES   X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy

XPS   X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

XRD   X-ray diffractometry

XRF   x-ray fluorescence

μ-PIXE   micro-particle-induced X-ray emission

List of Mineral Formulae

acanthite   Ag2S

altaite   PbTe

alumina   Al2O3

andorite   Sb3PbAgS6

argentojarosite   Ag2Fe3(SO4)4(OH)12

arsenian pyrite   AsFeS2

arsenopyrite   FeAsS

auricupride   Cu3Au

auroantimonate   AuSbO3

aurostibite   AuSb2

azurite   2Cu(CO)3⋅Cu(OH)2


berthierite   FeSb2S4

bezsmertnovite   Au4Cu(Te,Pb)

bogdanovite   Au5(Cu,Fe)3(Te,Pb)2

bornite   FeS⋅2Cu2S⋅CuS

braggite   PtS

calaverite   AuTe2

chalcocite   Cu2S

chalcopyrite   CuFeS2

chlorargyrite (cerargyrite)   AgCl

chlorite   (Mg,Al,Fe)12[(Si,Al)8O20](OH)16

chrysocolla   CuSiO3⋅nH2O

cinnabar   HgS

coloradoite   HgTe

cooperite   (Pt,Pd,Ni)S

cordierite   Mg2Al4Si5O18

corundum   Al6Si2O13

covellite   CuS

cuprite   Cu2O

dolomite   CaMg(CO3)2

electrum   (Au,Ag); 20-80% molar Ag

enargite   Cu3AsS4

fayalite   Fe2SiO4

ferrihydrite   5Fe2O3⋅9H2O

ferrisymplesite   Fe(III)3(As(V)O4)2(OH)3⋅5H2O

ferrous pyroarsenite   Fe2AsO5

fischesserite   Ag3AuSe2

galena   PbS

goethite   FeO(OH)

goldamalgam   (Au,Ag)Hg

gudmundite   FeSbS

guerinite   Ca5(AsO4)2(AsO3OH)2⋅9H2O

gypsum   CaSO4⋅2H2O

haidingerite   Ca(AsO3OH)⋅H2O

hematite   Fe2O3

hessite   Ag2Te

hunchinite   Au2Pb

hydroxyapatite   Ca10(AsxPyO4)6(OH)2; where As/P <0.2

iodargyrite   AgI

iridic gold   (Au,Ir)

jarosite   H3OFe3(SO4)2(OH)6

kostovite   CuAuTe4

kotulskite   (Pt,Pd,Ni)(Te,Bi,Sb)2

krennerite   (Au,Ag)Te2

laurite   (Ru,Fe,Os,Ir,Pt)S2

litharge   PbO

loellingite   FeAs2

maghemite   Fe2O3 with <5% FeO

magnetite   Fe3O4

malachite   2CuCO3(OH)2

maldonite   Au2Bi

marcasite   FeS2

moncheite   (Pt,Pd,Ni)(Te,Bi,Sb)2

montbrayite   (Au,Sb)2Te3

mullite   Al6Si2O13

muthmannite   (Au,Ag)Te

nagyagite   [Pb(Pb,Sb)S2][Au,Te]

native copper   Cu

native gold   Au (<20% molar Ag)

orpiment   As2S3

palladian gold (porpezite)   (Au,Pd)

parasymplesite   Fe(II)3(As(V)O4)2⋅8H2O

pentlandite   (Fe,Ni)9S8

petrovskaite   AuAg(S,Se)

petzite   Ag3AuTe2

pharmacolite   CaHAsO4⋅2H2O

platinum gold   (Au,Pt)

Pt-Fe alloys   Pt3Fe

pyrite   FeS2

pyrophyllite   AlSi2O5OH

pyrrhotite   Fe1-xS

realgar   AsS

rhodian gold (pyrite)   (Au,Rh)

schwertmannite   Fe(III)8O8(OH)x(SO4)ynH2O

scorodite   FeAsO4⋅3.5H2O

sphalerite   (Zn,Fe)S

stibnite   Sb2S3

sylvanite   (Au,Ag)Te2

tennantite   (Cu,Fe)12As4S13

tetra-auricupride   AuCu

tetrahedrite   (Cu,Fe,Ag,Zn)12Sb4S13

thucholite   variable mixture of hydrocarbons, uraninite and sulfides

tooeleite   Fe(III)6(AsO3)4SO4(OH)4⋅4H2O

uraninite   UO2

uytenbogaardite   Ag3AuS2

weilite   CaHAsO4

weishanite   (Au,Ag)3Hg2

zincblende   ZnS

zinkenite   Pb9Sb22S42

Chapter 1

Gold – An Historical Introduction

F. Habashi email address: Fathi.Habashi@arul.ulaval.ca     Department of Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada


Gold has a special place among metals. It is the oldest metal exploited by man, it plays an important role in world economics, it is highly prized, it was the ultimate goal of alchemists, and it is stored in the vaults of banks. Gold has been used in gilding, to make funeral masks, and for many other uses. Different processes were used for its recovery: panning, amalgamation, chlorination, and cyanidation.


Alchemy; Amalgamation; Ancient Egypt; Chlorination; Cyanidation; Eldorado; Gilding; Gold museums; Panning

1. Gold in Ancient Egypt

From ancient times to the present day, gold has been valued by humans. Egypt was the principal gold-producing country in ancient times. Coptos, the present Quft on the eastern side of the River Nile, was the chief town of the Nomos of Harawi and was once politically important. In the eleventh dynasty (2133–1991  BC) it was overshadowed by Thebes, 50  km to the south, which became the capital of the Middle Kingdom (2133  BC) of ancient Egypt, the present-day Luxor (Figure 1.1).

Coptos was the world's first gold boom town. It was there in the Wadi Hammamat that alluvial gold had been washed down from the gold-bearing veins found later in the granite hills above. The world's oldest mine map (Figure 1.2), which is made on papyrus and held at the Turin Museum (Museo Egizio di Torino) in Italy, shows the huts of the Egyptian miners, the road to the gold mines, and the hills within which the gold veins occurred. The map is 0.4  ×  2.8  m; it is believed that it was made during the reign of Ramses IV (1162–1156  BC). The scroll was found in a tomb near Thebes shortly before 1824 when it appeared in Turin. Ruins of these huts can be seen today at Fawakhir in the Eastern Desert.

Figure 1.1  Location of Coptos in Upper Egypt, the most ancient gold-mining center.

Figure 1.2  The world's oldest mine map.

In the old Egyptian language, the word nubia signifies gold. By 1300  BC, underground mining of vein gold was well established in Nubia under Egyptian control. There were more than 100 mines in the area. A series of forts were built to protect the flow of Nubian gold along the rich trade routes. Egypt became the dominant power in the Middle East, having the greatest gold-filled treasury in the ancient world.

The ancient Egyptians did not have an important port on the Mediterranean and all their trade was through the Red Sea. Coptos was at the starting point of the two great routes leading to the coast of the Red Sea, one toward the port of Tââ ou (Myos Hormos) and the other more southerly, toward the port of Shashirit (Berenice). Under the pharaohs, the whole trade of southern Egypt with the Red Sea passed over these two roads. Under the Ptolemys, and in Roman and Byzantine times, merchants followed the same roads for purposes of barter with the coasts of Zanzibar, Southern Arabia, India, and the Far East. This place and the surrounding area were known for the richness of its gold mines and semiprecious stones. A temple was built there by Tahutmes III, who ruled from 1503 to 1450  BC and was co-regent with Queen Hatshepsut for 21  years. The area that it occupied was about twice as large as his temple at Madinet Habu in Luxor.

The Egyptians were the first to treat gold-bearing rocks. This is well documented on wall paintings, an example of which is given in Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.3  Ancient Egyptian wall painting dating from about 1450   BC in the tomb of Rekhmire, vizier to Thothmes III at Thebes, showing metal workers casting molten gold in the molds.

2. Early Gold-Mining Centers

Herodotus (484–425  BC) refers to several great gold-mining centers in Asia Minor, and Strabo (63  BC) mentions gold mining in many different places. Pliny (23–79  AD) gives many details of ancient placer mining, which was extensive. The Romans had little of the metal in their own regions, but their military expeditions brought them major amounts in the form of booty. They also exploited the mineral wealth of the countries they had conquered, especially Spain, where up to 40,000 slaves were employed in mining. The state's accumulation of gold bars and coins was immense, but during the barbarian invasions and the collapse of the empire this gold was scattered, and gold mining languished in the Middle Ages.

Following the discovery of America at the end of the fifteenth century, the Spaniards transferred considerable amounts of gold from the New World to Europe. Although the conquistadors found a highly developed mining industry in Central America, their efforts to increase gold production were largely unsuccessful because most of the finds consisted of silver. Colombia's Muisca Indians, who dwelt in the highlands near present-day Bogota, installed their kings by dusting their naked bodies with gold and then washing them in nearby Lake. To the conquistadores, this wealthy chieftain became known as El Dorado — a Spanish word meaning the Gilded Man (Figure 1.4).

It was not until the discovery of deposits in Brazil, in 1691, that there was a noticeable increase in world gold production. Since about 1750, gold has been mined on a major scale on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains. In 1840, alluvial gold was discovered in Siberia and then at Coloma, California, in January 1848, a few days before the signing of a treaty between Mexico and the United States to end their hostilities. California was thus ceded by Mexico after a discovery that was apparently not known to either government. Coloma is about 50  km southeast of Sacramento on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

The discovery of gold in British Columbia was an epoch-making event. In the late 1850s, alluvial gold was found along the Thompson River, and in 1858 the famous Fraser River rush took place. Extraordinarily rich deposits were discovered in 1860 on Williams and Lightning creeks. For many years, British Columbia was the leading gold producer among the Canadian provinces and territories, but with the discovery of the Kirkland lake deposits in 1911, and the opening up of the Porcupine district in 1912, Ontario held first place ever since.

Gold deposits were also found in Eastern Australia (1851), Nevada (1859), Colorado (1875), Alaska (1886), New Zealand and Western Australia (1892), and Western Canada (1896). However, these deposits soon lost much of their importance. The strongest impetus was given to gold production through the discovery of the goldfields of the Witwatersrand in South Africa in 1885. South African gold soon occupied a commanding position in the world market. Production grew continuously except for a short interruption by the Boer War (1899–1902). Gold mining in Ghana (Gold Coast) began to play a modest role in the twentieth century, although the deposits were known in the Middle Age.

Figure 1.4  Eldorado.

3. Gold and Alchemy

To the medieval alchemists, gold has been regarded as a metal of perfection. They identified it with the sun by virtue of its bright yellow color, and it was given the symbol of a circle with a dot in the center. Gold was so precious that from earliest times man has left no stone unturned in searching for it in nature. It is not surprising, therefore, that humans should have sought to convert other metals into gold. The agent for transmuting base metals into gold was known as the philosopher's stone. In addition to its transmutatory power, the stone was believed to have the properties of a universal medicine for longevity and immortality. The attempts to transmute base metals into gold and to prolong life indefinitely contributed much to modern chemistry in the form of new chemical substances and laboratory techniques. Alchemical principles have also found their way into modern psychological ideas, notably by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875–1961).

Ancient Egypt is considered the birthplace of alchemy. Zosimos (ca. 350–420), who taught in Alexandria, is the earliest writer known to have practiced alchemy. Because of their lack of knowledge of the composition of common substances some alchemists viewed many ordinary chemical reactions as transmutations. For example, the deposition of copper on iron metal placed in a solution of blue vitriol (copper sulfate), a reaction known since Roman times, was assumed by some to be a transmutation of iron into copper until the late Renaissance. Similarly, the mineral galena [PbS], on heating, liberates sulfur dioxide and appears to be transformed into silver, which is often present as an impurity in galena.

Through the centuries, gold-making has been alternately encouraged and banned by monarchs and the Church. For example, Diocletian (AD  245–316), Emperor of Rome from 284 to 313, fearing that the Egyptians (Egypt was then under the domination of the Roman Empire) might become powerful through their knowledge of alchemy, ordered in AD  296 that all books and manuscripts which treated the art of making gold and silver to be burned. Consequently, only very few Egyptian alchemical works have been preserved. During medieval times, European kings and princes supported alchemists at their courts, hoping to acquire wealth through their work.

4. Uses of Gold

Humans have valued gold for its lustrous color and its resistance to tarnishing, so it was used for special decorative ornaments and jewelry. The veneration reserved for gold by the ancients has led to its use for many centuries for religious artifacts. Gold was often cast in the form of idols or hammered into foil to make masks for the dead. Gold was used for barter and subsequently for coinage. By the eighth century BC, small, irregular bars of impure gold were being exchanged as currency in Asia Minor, and by the fifth century BC, gold coins were being used freely. Even today, the majority of the gold produced is turned into gold bars (i.e., bullion that acts as the standard for the world's monetary systems), and they are used in international trade and exchange.

Gold differs from most other metals in that the majority of the metal that has ever been mined is still in existence. The total amount of gold now in existence is estimated to amount to around 125,000  tons. If all of this gold could be collected together, it would produce a cube with an edge of about 18.6  m. Gold has always been a symbol of immortality, and this was also a common subject in mythology. For example, King Midas requested that everything that he touched be turned into gold. When this blessing had turned out to be a curse in disguise, Midas prayed to Bacchus to take back his gift. The myth of the Golden Fleece has been subject to various interpretations. The legend of El Dorado, the Indian ruler who plastered his body with gold dust in festivals, led to the rapid conquest of South America. In an ancient Sanskrit text, there is a reference to Pipilika gold (the Sanskrit word for ants), which refers to gold particles that are collected by ants and then presented to the king in a special ceremony. In Thousand and One Nights, there are numerous references to palaces being built using bricks made of gold.

Gold ornaments have been found in Egyptian tombs of the prehistoric Stone Age, and the Egyptian goldsmiths of the earliest dynasties were skillful artisans. Today, gold used in jewelry sums to about 2000  tons annually worldwide, which represents 75% of the total consumption. Gold in jewelry serves different purposes in different parts of the world. In the West, it has a primarily decorative role; it is not normally regarded as an investment and consequently the gold used for this purpose is less pure. In the East, exactly the reverse is true; gold has a strongly monetary role there, is typically high caratage (22 carat – 91.7% pure gold, or 24 carat – 100% gold), and is bought and stored as an investment. It is typically worn by women and so has an ornamental role as well; the presence of large amounts of gold ornaments in Oriental bazaars attests to this fact. The American Indians before the Spanish conquest used gold for ornaments but also as offerings in religious ceremonies, or to be buried with the deceased.

The extreme ductility of the metal is shown

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