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75 GOLD RECOVERY METHODS

chemical methods of recovering gold:


- mercury – amalgamation of gold.

- cyanide leaching – dissolving gold.


- chlorine leaching – dissolving gold.
- Haber Gold Process leaching – 2000s research in New Jersey.
- iGoli chlorine leaching – 2000s research in South Africa.
- iodine leaching – dissolving gold.
- tincture of iodine leaching – 2000s research in Japan.
- bromine leaching – dissolving gold.
- bromine leaching – 1990s research in Indiana.
- thiocyanate leaching – dissolving gold.
- thiosulphate leaching - dissolving gold.
- thiourea leaching – dissolving gold.
- nitric acid attack – liberating gold from sulphides.
- aqua regia – dissolving gold.
- borax – smelting gold.

biochemical methods of recovering gold:


- bioleaching – 1980s research in Wales and California.
- biooxidation – 1980s research in British Columbia and California.
- gold-binding proteins – 2000s research in Washington State.
- phytomining – 2000s research in New Zealand.

oleophilic methods of recovering gold:


- agglomeration – 1980s research in Australia and China.
- oleophilic adhesion – 1980s research in Alberta.
- froth floatation – 1930s research in Idaho and USSR.
- gold-paraffin floatation – 1990s research in Brazil using candle wax.

magnetic methods of recovering gold:


- magnetic coated gold – 1980s research in Colorado with iron carbonyl.

gravitational methods of recovering gold:

gold sluices - some are able to catch very fine gold


- riffled sluices – 1960s-1970s research in China and USSR.
- flat bar riffles – 1980s research in Yukon, 1990s in Mongolia.
- angle-iron riffles – 1980s research in Canada.
- expanded metal grating riffles – 1980s research in Canada.
- expanded metal mesh riffles – 1980s research in Canada.
- McCann’s small sluice – 1980s research in California.
- Damn Fine Sluice – 1990s research in New Mexico.
- Popandson sluice – 2000s research in USA.
- Loewen electrostatic sluice – 2000s research in Alberta.
- Cleangold® sluice – 1990s research in Oregon.
- hydraulic riffles – 1980s research in New Zealand and Canada.

gold jigs - recover nuggets as well as some fine gold


- simple jigs – 1970s research in China.
- Pan-American (PAN-AM) duplex jig – Alaska tests.
- Cleaveland/IHC jig – 1980s research in USA and Holland.
- Gekko in-line pressure jig (IPJ) – 1990s research in Australia.
- Kelsey centrifugal jig – 1980s research in Australia.

gold centrifuges - rather good at catching very fine gold


- Knudsen bowl – Alaska tests.
- Gilkey bowl – Alaska tests.
- Neffco bowl – 1970s research in Utah.
- Yunxi bowl – 1960s-90s research in Yunnan.
- Knelson bowl – 1980s research in British Columbia. Knelson concentrator
- Falcon C bowl – 1980s research in British Columbia. Falcon concentrator
- Falcon SB bowl – 1990s research in British Columbia. Falcon Superbowl
- Itomak bowl – 1990s research in Novosibirsk. Itomak concentrator
- Younge horizontal centrifuge – 1980s research in British Columbia.
- Axzia-Mozley MGS centrifuge – 1980s research in Cornwall. Multi-gravity sep.

gold helix - thanks to Archimedes screw


- helix wheel (gold wheel) – 1900s research in Colorado.
- helix cylinder – 1980s research in British Columbia.
- helix belt – 2000s research in Canada and USA.

gold tables - old devices, getting better


- Wilfley shaking tables – 1890s research in Colorado.
- shaking tables – 1960s-1970s research in China.
- shaking tables – 1960s research in USSR.
- BGS shaking table – 1990s research in UK.
- Gemeni table – 1980s research in Colorado.
- U-Tech reverse polarity table – 1990s research in Arizona.
- Goltron machine – 1990s research in Utah.
- Bartles-Mozley orbital tables – 1970s research in Cornwall.

pinched sluices - very useful, especially as a cone


- pinched sluice – historical usage.
- Reichert cone – 1960s research in Australia.

gold spirals - quite good at catching fine gold


- Humphrey spirals – 1940s research in Colorado.
- Mark-7 Reichert spirals – 1980s research in USA.

elutriated sludge tanks - not jigs, and maybe better!


- Duke E-tank – 1970s research in Georgia.
- Graefe E-tank (Keene Hydromatic Jig) – 1980s research in California.
- Pyramid E-tank (Pyramid Jig) – 1990s research in California.

elutriation towers - remarkable at catching fine gold!


- Lashley ASAT Elutriation tower – 1980s research in New Mexico.
- Osterberg E-tower (Quick Gold Separator) – 1980s research in California.
- reflux classifier – 2000s research in Australia.
- Ecologic E-tower (Ecologic Concentrator) – 2000s research in New Zealand.

compound water cyclones - dewater or catch fine gold!


- Visman Compound Water Cyclone (CWC) – 1970s research in Yukon.

vibrating belts (vanners) - may catch fine gold rather well!


- Bartles crossbelt – 1970s research in Cornwall.
- Lemmon vanner – 1980s research in the Yukon.

Where to find out more...


- join the ALASKA GOLD FORUM, read the posts and post a question!
- send us an EMAIL and we will be pleased to hear from you.
- have a look at the references on gold recovery listed below.
- IF YOU KNOW A METHOD TO ADD, PLEASE EMAIL US!.
World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

1: Mercury – amalgamation of gold


Operation
Mercury is sourced from on-site recycling of waste
plus mercury from traders from Hg mines (e.g. China and
Kyrgyzstan) and Hg waste exporters (e.g. Spain and USA)
[20]. In Mongolia some is sold by panners recovering
mercury [29,30,31]. Mercury is added in four situations:
² adding Hg to a milling device (e.g. Muller mill = edge mill) to
capture gold and leave amalgam in the milled residue;
² adding Hg to a pan, sluice, centrifuge, Hg-centrifuge (forced
amalgamator) or other device to assist the capture of gold;
² adding Hg to concentrate to recover gold without the time
and trouble of upgrading the concentrate further; and
² adding Hg to devices to recover gold lost to the tailings.
Mercury amalgamation typically recovers in excess of
90% of the gold content of a placer gravel or placer
concentrate. Mercury amalgamation is effective only for
Figure 13. MERCURY-GOLD AMALGAM
Soft bead of HgAu amalgam ready for firing off the mercury to gold particles larger than 60-70μ [12]. For mercury
leave gold. (photo: Peter Appel of GEUS) amalgamation to be effective, preconditions apply:
² the gold particle must have a clean surface available;
Until 50 years ago, mercury (Hg) was the method-of- ² mercury must be put in direct contact with the gold particle;
choice for industrial-scale recovery of hardrock gold, and ² mercury must be clean enough;
to a lesser degree for recovery of placer gold also. ² the gold must be already liberated from the matrix, OR
² the gold has its surface exposed to adhere to the mercury.
Since then, with the increased recognition of the
harmful impact of mercury on human health and After amalgamation, the resulting lumps of amalgam
ecosystems, mercury use by companies and recreational are retrieved by squeezing out excess mercury through a
miners has become strictly controlled and in some regions fine fabric or chamois leather. The amalgam paste is
banned and eliminated. Mercury has been virtually retrieved by hand and the mercury driven off by heating to
eliminated in industrial placer gold mines in the USA, leave a residue of impure gold containing traces of mercury.
Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Russian Federation,
Adoption by placer gold miners
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Yet mercury is
prevalent in large placer gold mines in South/Central Mercury amalgamation is entrenched as the ‘global
America, Africa and China. norm’ for gold recovery from concentrates by artisanal
Companies shun mercury for six interlocking reasons: placer gold miners. Mercury has been eliminated amongst
² human health of employees and local people; placer mining companies in the former Soviet Union and is
² environmental protection;
highly restricted, strictly controlled and virtually eliminated
² insurance risks and liabilities;
² legal prohibition; in industrial and recreational placer mining in the west.
² viable alternatives to mercury now exist; and
² mercury is ineffective at recovering gold <70μ [12].

Figure 14. GOLD RECOVERY BY MERCURY AMALGAMATION


Mercury is ineffective at amalgamating with gold smaller than 70μ or larger than 1.5mm [12]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

2: Cyanide – chemical leaching of gold


Operation
The sodium cyanide (NaCN) is either in a dry solid or
liquid form, sourced from specialised manufacturers.
1st stage – leaching gold into solution
A weak cyanide solution is prepared, usually 0.02-
0.05%, and must be kept strongly alkaline (pH 10-11).
Cyanide leaching can be by different methods:
² percolation leaching – very weak cyanide solution percolates
down through a vat of concentrate. Commonly used for
ground hardrock ore, but also successful in tests on placer
gold concentrates in Alaska by Cleland Conwell [33];
² agitated leaching – very weak cyanide solution is added to
Figure 15. CYANIDE LEACHING vats that are agitated by paddles or by blowing in
A Chinese operation near Zuunkharaa in north Mongolia, leaching compressed air to keep the material in suspension; and
fine gold from mercury-laden tailings of edge mills. (photo: ² heap leaching – very weak cyanide solution percolates down
Jőrgen Hartwig of Projekt-Consult) through crushed/milled ore heaped in a ‘heap basin’ lined
Cyanide leaching has been used to recover gold since with leach-proof materials e.g. clay, asphalt or tarpaulin.
the 1890s but only since the 1960s with the advent of 2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
heap leaching has cyanide become the method-of-choice Having leached the gold and dissolved it into solution
for leaching gold from milled hardrock, and has potential as gold cyanide complexaqueous, the solid gold is recovered
for leaching gold from placer concentrates. by a choice of methods, such as traditional methods
Cyanidation uses a very weak cyanide solution to tested on placer gold concentrates in Alaska [33]:
dissolve (‘leach’) fine gold into solution, and then ² absorption by activated carbon – 99.85% Au recovery;
² absorption by ion-exchange resin – 96.31% Au recovery; or
precipitates it as easy-to-recover gold. It leaches gold that ² precipitation by zinc dust – 99% recovery.
– due to flatness, small size or attached quartz – is lost by
The zinc dust method, as typified by the Merill-Crowe
simple gravitational devices or mercury.
process, first removes oxygen from the cyanide solution
Cyanide has risks if handled carelessly or gains
and then mixes in a fine zinc powder and recovers the fine
access to streams or wells. The cyanide solution must be
gold precipitate (<50μ) on a precoat filter.
kept strongly alkaline to prevent the generation of highly
toxic hydrogen cyanide gas. A problem is cyanide vapour Adoption by placer gold miners
rising from ponds. Such concerns have triggered the gold
The author is unaware of the cyanide leaching being
industry to seek cost-effective alternatives [32]
used at large-scale placer gold mines. Yet for small-scale
Coarse gold typical of most placers takes too long to
and artisanal mining, cyanide leaching is now widespread
leach. Marcello Veiga noted that for a 0.21mm gold
for hardrock ores and ‘difficult’ lateritic ores in Peru,
particle to dissolve in cyanide took over 60 hours!
Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Philippines and China.

Figure 16. GOLD RECOVERY BY CYANIDE LEACHING


Cyanide can dissolve (leach) >90% of very fine gold, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. [22] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

3: Chlorine – chemical leaching of gold


Chlorine had been used to recover gold for a couple Frothing and foaming may push off the lid causing
of hundred years, notably to leach gold from residues of spills, especially if the concentrate has calcite or dolomite
Hg amalgamation. Later chlorination found favour in large as vein material, rocks (e.g. limestone) or coatings. The
gold mining operations in Australia and the USA but has foaming is carbon dioxide CO2 gas liberated when HCl
now largely disappeared [34]. Chlorination is safer and dissolves carbonate.
simpler than cyanide, and can challenge mercury. When dissolution seems over, the lidded bucket is
By the 1970s, chorination had been largely forgotten. stirred again and left overnight to allow the process to
Yet, as noted by WWF-Guianas (www.wwfguianas.org), a terminate. Next day the acidity is checked by pH paper
basic version of chlorination could replace amalgamation (litmus test). If not slightly acid then the acid was
and cyanide, and the following account is based largely on completely used, so more 15% HCl is added until the
their report [35]. Two common chemicals are required: process is complete. Then the bucket is stood for several
² bleach – 14-16% sodium hypochlorite NaOCl (household hours to settle, and surplus water gently tipped away.
bleach) but products often have additives that may interfere
with the process. Training and precautions are ESSENTIAL. 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
² hydrochloric acid – 30% HCl strength, as for cleaning A plastic pole is used to make a hollow in the
swimming pools. Training and precautions are ESSENTIAL. concentrate, and the bleach gently stirred in. Shortly after,
However bleach (sodium hypochorite solution) forms the 30% HCl is poured in, taking MAXIMUM precautions,
comparatively stable trihalomethanes (THMs) and stirring the concentrate with the pole.
haloacetic acids (HAAs) claimed to be carcinogenic and Gold is dissolved (‘leached’) by attack by nascent
posing other health risks [36]. Only in 2001 was this chorine to form gold chloride (AuCl2) in solution:
addressed by Mintex’s ‘iGoli method’, as discussed in a goldsolid + sodium hypochloriteaqueous + hydrochloric acidaqueous
later section [37-40]. = gold chlorideaqueous + sodium chlorideaqueous + waterliquid
2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
Operation The liquid is decanted from the bucket and filtered.
The floor is sealed, and a tap plus plastic garden The filtrate includes leached gold as gold chlorideaqueous.
hose kept ready to flush spillages of bleach and acid. The To precipitate the gold from the pregnant solution,
operators must be trained and clad in rubber gloves, several methods are available: sodium metabisulphate,
rubber apron, laboratory eye-protectors and rubber boots. zinc metal (chunks, bars or powder), oxalic acid,
Preparation – removal of carbonates ferrosulphate or sodium nitrate. Sodium metabisulphate
The first task is to dissolve carbonates as they can was used by WWF-Guianas [35]. Zinc often has cadmium
interfere with leaching gold. A stock of STRONG 30% HCl (Cd) as impurity that is toxic if released.
is added to water to produce 15% dilute HCl. The Adoption by placer gold miners
concentrate is put in a lidded plastic bucket and 15% HCl
added to submerge the concentrate, using a plastic rod to Chlorination is a neglected method for recovering
stir. A long handle cut from a plastic sweeping brush is gold from placer concentrates and the author is unaware
ideal. of any companies using this method, although some
artisanal placer miners may be doing so.

Figure 17. GOLD RECOVERY BY CHLORINATION


Chlorination can dissolve (leach) about 90% of gold <300μ but is too slow for leaching larger gold. [35] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

66: HGP leaching – 2000s research in New Jersey


Operation
The Haber gold process (HGP) is, in many respects,
similar to the cyanide method in the recovery of hardrock
gold, but acting faster and without raising any significant
environmental issues. Both methods rely on chemically-
based gold extraction technology that makes use of a
lixiviant (extracting solution) to leach gold into solution
from the ore.
Having rapidly and efficiently leached the gold into
solution, the HGP uses essentially the same gold-capturing
method as the cyanide method in order to recover the
gold by precipitation, such as the well-known Merrill-
Figure 138. HABER GOLD PROCESS Crowe and carbon methods.
A mobile test unit for the Haber Gold Process (HGP). ² hardrock ore – the rock is first crushed and milled to 80-120
(photo: courtesy of Haber Inc – www.habercorp.com)
mesh (130-200μ) – an advantage over using cyanide that
The Haber gold process (HGP) was developed by typically requires milling to at least 200 mesh (74μ).
Norman Haber of New Jersey for hardrock gold ores, but it Therefore it seems highly likely that HGP will prove effective
has potential for placer gold recovery. The HGP is a at recovering gold less than 200μ in size.
² placer ore – with placers there is no requirement to mill the
chemical leaching process using a non-toxic lixiviant
ore, as the commercial gold content is ‘free’ gold. The Haber
(extracting solution) of proprietary composition. Haber Inc Gold Process should be effective for placer concentrates
(www.habercorp.com) says the chemicals used are screened at 1mm or even 5mm, for a spherical gold particle
“readily available”. of 200μ diameter has hydraulic equivalence to a spherical
About 100 tons of different types of gold ore have magnetite particle twice this diameter and a quartz particle
several times this diameter. The Haber Gold Process should
been processed in small-scale HGP pilot plants which are
be effective at recovering fine gold in the tailings of
claimed to extract gold in bulk in “significantly less time” conventional wash-plants.
than with cyanide. The tested ores responded much faster
with the HGP. Reagent costs are similar to cyanide but the Adoption by placer gold miners
costs of the HGP are claimed to be “an order of magnitude The Haber gold process (HGP) is undergoing
lower” than for a cyanide system. commercialisation trials in Ghana for applications to
Haber Inc. claims the following advantages of HGP combat and replace mercury usage by thousands of
leaching over cyanide leaching: artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASM). Initial
² routinely recovers more gold;
² processing rates are significantly faster; progress has been very encouraging and publication of
² effective with more types of gold ore; and detailed results is awaited with interest.
² overall cost of processing is same or less.

Figure 139. GOLD RECOVERY BY HGP LEACHING – generalised


Recovery of placer gold by the Haber gold process (HGP) based on information from Haber Inc. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

67: iGoli chlorine leaching – 2000s research in South Africa


The ‘iGoli Mercury-free Gold Extraction Process’ was
invented during the lat few years by the Small Scale
Operation
Mining and Beneficiation Division (SSMB) of Mintek in 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
South Africa (www.mintex.co.za). The process equipment is made of PVC and other
The iGoli process is designed to leach gold from plastics, as chlorine in the leach would attack mild steel
>0.1% gold concentrate to produce 99.9% gold product. and other metals. Use of plastics allows transparent
The iGoli process is a modern version of chlorination, vessels allowing the operator to witness the progress.
and uses a mixture of pool acid (dilute hydrochloric acid), The feed is of finely screened concentrate with a
bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and sodium metabisulphate grade of >0.1% gold. A batch is added to the reaction
to leach and recover metallic gold [38,39,187]. vessel where the gold is dissolved (leached) by a mixture
Assessment of concentrate of pool acid (dilute hydrochloric acid) and bleach (sodium
Tests by Mintex show that concentrates from hypochlorite). Gold is leached by attack by nascent
different areas require slightly different recipes for the chorine to form gold chloride (AuCl2) in solution:
iGoli process. Mintek SSMB requires a 2-kilo sample of goldsolid + sodium hypochloriteaqueous + hydrochloric acidaqueous
concentrate containing at least 1gram/ton to determine = gold chlorideaqueous + sodium chlorideaqueous + waterliquid
the optimum recipe [187]. In some placers and a few Leaching the gold usually takes a number of hours.
hardrock ores, carbonates are present in such abundance Any fumes that may form are scrubbed in the
that they interfere with leaching gold and have to be first attached vessel using sodium hydroxide solution.
removed [35]. 2nd stage – precipitating gold from solution
Once the gold has dissolved, the contents of the
reaction chamber are filtered to remove the solids.
The pregnant solution is mixed with sodium
metabisulphite in the precipitation vessel and manually
stirred. If properly done, a gold powder of up to 99%
purity is obtained that may be turned into a gold disc just
by hitting it with a hammer [38,39,187].
3rd stage – waste treatment
The solid waste from the iGoli process is neutralised
using lime or limestone with apatite added if necessary to
destroy or precipitate base metals and ferrometals.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The iGoli process is new, but is gaining interest in
South Africa and elsewhere among artisanal and small-
scale miners as an alternative to mercury amalgamation.

Figure 140. GOLD RECOVERY BY IGOLI CHORINE LEACHING


Recovery of placer gold by the iGoli mercury-free gold extraction process [38,39,187]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

4: Iodine – chemical leaching of gold


Iodine leaching had been widely used to recover gold
in the late 1800s and early 1900s, then dwindled with the
Operation
rise in popularity of cyanide leaching and mercury The Harrison method in outline is as follows. First a
amalgamation, and the high cost of iodine. Unlike test batch of 0.43 kilos of ore is reduced to a <50-75μ
chlorination, recycling of leachate is of paramount powder and leached without any preliminary roasting step.
importance for commercial viability of the method. High 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
rates of recycling of iodine can be achieved although To prepare the leachate, 3.8 kilos of solid potassium
requiring additional plant layout. Fortunately iodine is a iodide are added to four litres of water and then 1.9 kilos
good lixiviant for gold so only very low concentrations of of iodine crystals added. The water is agitated until all the
iodine are required. Three methods are noted below. crystals dissolve. Then 0.45 litres of concentrated nitric acid
The Prichard method of iodine leaching was invented is added in small steps with agitation. The leachate consists
by Loius M. Pritchard of Idaho and patented in 1907 (US of water, potassium iodide, hydroiodic acid, free iodine and
#861,535) and uses an excess of iodine dissolved in potassium nitrate able to “completely dissolve all tellurides
potassium iodide in aqueous solution. The gold so and selenides, and sulphides of gold present”.
dissolved is recovered by adding mercury which reduces The ore is added to the leachate and agitated for an
the gold in solution to a metallic state whereupon it forms hour to form a pregnant solution. This is filtered and the
an amalgam that is then washed free. But the Prichard residue washed in a concentrated solution of potassium
method is unsatisfactory in failing to precipitate colloidal iodide to dissolve insoluble silver iodide, until no yellow
gold, and gold recovery is sometimes only 25%. precipitate remains. The wash water is thoroughly mixed
The Harrison method of iodine leaching was invented with the filtered pregnant solution.
by George D. Harrison of Detroit and patented in 1942
2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
(US #2,304,823). It was said to be effective with placer
Mercury is added to the pregnant solution to form
concentrates and difficult ores such as platinum ores and
amalgams of gold, silver and base metals. This residue is
gold telluride ores. The lixiviant is an aqueous solution of
filtered off and to it is added a hot solution of four parts
iodine and potassium iodide, plus nitric acid to prevent the
concentrated nitric acid and one part water to prevent the
formation of insoluble gold salts.
gold becoming colloidal. After cooling for 30 minutes, the
An in-situ method of iodine leaching of gold ore was
gold is recovered in a furnace.
invented by Kent McGrew and Jack Murphy of Wyoming
Some gold and other precious metals remain in the
and patented in 1985 (US #4,557,759) as a safer
filtrate. This is treated with nitric acid (see patent for
alternative to in-situ cyanide leaching. The gold leached by
details) and the gold precipitated is recovered by filtration.
the iodine is recovered by activated charcoal, and the iodine
regenerated for re-use by electrochemical oxidation. Adoption by placer gold miners
E-goldprospecting (www.e-goldprospecting.com) has
a good account of the pros and cons of iodine leaching. Iodine leaching is a neglected method for recovering
An updated tincture method of iodine leaching was placer gold and the author is unaware of any companies,
invented in 2006 [40] and is dealt with in a later section. recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

Figure 18. GOLD RECOVERY BY IODINE LEACHING


Iodine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

5: Bromine – chemical leaching of gold


Bromine was fairly popular for recovering gold in the
late 1800s and early 1900s but declined in the face of
Operation
competition from cyanide and mercury amalgamation. The Fink and Putnam method in outline is as follows.
Some bromine leaching methods are outlined below. First the ore is finely powdered and preferably roasted.
The Schaeffer method of bromine leaching was Carbonates need not be removed as bromine solvents can
invented by Charles A. Schaeffer of New York State and dissolve gold in the presence of carbonates.
patented in 1882 (US #267,723). Bromine in aqueous 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
solution is used to leach the gold as gold bromide in Bromine and sodium bromide are sourced from
solution over 24 hours. Silver bromide forms as sludge. specialised suppliers. Elemental bromine is particularly
The gold is recovered by precipitation by adding oxalic hazardous and extremely difficult to store or transport
acid or iron sulphate to the pregnant solution. By putting safely. Sodium bromide is more stable and cheaper.
sludge into solution with sodium or calcium hyposulphite, The powered ore is added to water in a leach tank.
silver can be precipitated by adding calcium sulphide. The leachate is prepared by adding sodium chloride @
Bromine is a highly corrosive fuming liquid generating a 100 grams/litre, sodium bromide @ 1gram/litre and finally
suffocating vapour, making this method hazardous. chlorine @ 1.4 grams/litre. Throughout the first 15
The Engelhardt method of bromine leaching was minutes, sulphuric acid is added @ 1.25 grams/litre to
invented by Ernest C. Engelhardt of South Dakota and maintain acidity. The reactive mixture is allowed to stand
patented in 1893 (US #509,368) and uses bromine in for a further ten minutes for leaching to finish. In tests 23-
dilute hydrochloric acid to leach the gold as gold bromide carat gold leaf dissolved in barely four minutes, and only
in solution. Adding acid increases the solubility of bromine 11.1% was lost to the tailings.
from 2-3%vol to 13-15%vol and the process shortened.
2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
The MacArthur method of bromine leaching was
To recover the gold from the pregnant solution,
invented by John S. MacArthur of Scotland and patented
several methods are available: sodium metabisulphate,
in 1889 (US #411,047) and uses “perbromide of iron” in
zinc metal (chunks, bars or powder), oxalic acid,
aqueous solution to leach the gold as gold bromide in
ferrosulphate or sodium nitrate.
solution in a vat heated close to boiling point. Silver,
The solvent power of the barren liquid is restored by
copper, lead and zinc must be removed first by ferric salts.
either adding chlorine or a hypochlorite and a mineral
The leach is reused until exhausted; then the “perbromide
acid. According to the patent, “Except for losses due to
of iron” is regenerated using bromine. Gold is recovered by
filtering the pregnant solution through coke or charcoal.
vaporisation and solution left in the tailings, practically all
The Fink and Putnam method of bromine leaching
of the free and combined bromine is recovered.”
was invented by Colin G. Fink and Garth Louis Putnam of Adoption by placer gold miners
New York and patented in 1942 (US #2,283,198). They
discovered leaching gold in aqueous bromine solutions is Bromine leaching is a neglected method for recovering
accelerated by chloride and bromide ions. placer gold [41], and the author is unaware of any
companies, recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

Figure 19. GOLD RECOVERY BY BROMINE LEACHING


Bromine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

55: Bromine leaching – 1990s research in Indiana


The Dadgar method of bromine leaching was invented An innovative alternative invented by Ahmad Dadgar
by Ahmad Dadgar and co-workers of Great Lakes and Charles C. Shin of Great Lakes Chemical Corporation
Chemical Corporation in Indiana and patented in 1997 (US in Indiana and patented in 1990 (US #4,936,910). This
#5,620,585). It may yet help to revive interest in bromide recovers gold by passing the pregnant gold solution
leaching, using perbromides with desirable characteristics through acid-washed Sphagnum peat moss in a suitable
such as high bromine levels, low bromine vapour pressure contacting apparatus.
and stability even in freezing conditions. The sphagnum peat moss (live and dead) is chopped
and screened to retain the 75μ to 1.5mm fraction. This
Operation enables water to pass through. The screened moss is
The Dadgar method in outline is as follows. washed with a protic acid such as 0.5-1.0M HCl (10 grams
The ore is reduced to a fine powder and leached of dried sieved moss per 100mL HCl) and then rinsed with
without any preliminary roasting step. deionised water until the filtrate reaches pH4.
1st stage – leaching gold into solution The acid-treated sphagnum moss is packed in a
Bromine is sourced from specialised suppliers as column and the pregnant gold solution passed through in
sodium bromide, as elemental bromine is particularly the manner of a typical ion-exchange column.
hazardous and extremely difficult to store or transport Experiments prove acid-treated sphagnum peat moss
safely. Sodium bromide is more stable and cheaper. is able to recover about 32 milligrams of gold per gram of
The powdered ore is delivered as a continuous feed moss dry-weight when it is then at maximum capacity.
to the first of two cascade agitated leach tanks where it is The process is very rapid (10-20 minutes) and is
mixed with an aqueous bromide solution. The resulting indifferent to temperature variation in the range of 20 to
slurry overflows from the first leach tank to the second 50°C. At least 99.9% of the gold contained in the leachate
leach tank and overflows again to a thickener. Solids can be recovered by the sphagnum moss.
produce a sludge that passes through a countercurrent 3rd stage – final recovery of gold for sale
washing system of several thickeners, the final thickener The sphagnum moss is incinerated in a muffle
being fed with an aqueous washing medium. Solids collect furnace at 750°C to recover the metallic gold.
in the bottom of the final thickener as tailings, while the
Adoption by placer gold miners
liquid fraction is a pregnant gold solution.
2nd stage – recovering gold from solution The Dadgar method has potential for recovering fine
The pregnant gold solution can be passed through placer gold from concentrates but awaits field tests and
ion exchange columns, as is usual, to recover the gold. promotion to placer companies, recreational miners and
artisanal miners.

Figure 118. GOLD RECOVERY BY DADGAR METHOD OF BROMINE LEACHING


Bromine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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6: Thiocyanate – chemical leaching of gold


Thiocyanate leaching was invented in the 1890s but
was largely ignored due to the popularity of iodine and
Operation
bromine leaching, and the rise of cyanide leaching. The Wan-LeVier method is summarised as follows.
Thiocyanate leaching is particularly effective on The thiocyanate is sourced from specialised suppliers.
difficult sulphide-rich refractory hardrock gold ore. This is Preparation – oxidation of sulphides
because thiocyanate leaching requires an extremely acidic The ore is finely powdered by milling and added to a
environment and breaking down the sulphides in the ore heap leach facility. Bio-oxidation of sulphides is
generates highly acidic solutions. accomplished by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Leptospirillum
The Kendall method of thiocyanate leaching was ferrooxidans, Sulfobocillus thermosulfidooxidans, Sedula,
invented by Edward E. Kendall of New York State and Metallospheara or Acidianus brierley as in US patents
patented in 1899 and 1901 (US #625,564 and #671,704). #5,246,486, #5,332,559, #5,834,294, #5,127,942 and
Ammonium or potassium thiocyanate is used to leach #5,244,493. Bio-oxidation takes about 90 days – much
silver and gold, and the pregnant solution directed to an faster than with cyanide leaching as acidic products are
agitated trough where potassium sulphide is added to not a problem.
precipitate silver sulphide that is recovered by settling and
1st stage – leaching gold into solution
filtering. The supernatant liquid is directed to a reaction
The leach solution is first conditioned to adjust the
tank for gold recovery using comminuted zinc metal.
concentration and molar ratio of dissolved thiocyanate and
The Barrick method of thiocyanate leaching was
dissolved ferric iron, acidity and temperature. The
invented by Kenneth T. Thomas, Christopher Fleming,
leachate is extremely acidic, ranging from pH 1 to 3.
Andrew R. Marchbank and David Dreisinger of Canada and
The leach solution is introduced to the milled ore and
patented in 1988 (US #5,785,736), the patent assigned to
leaching takes from days to months in a heaped leach
Barrick Gold Corporation of Toronto.
facility, or hours in a heated pressurised autoclave.
The Wan-LeVier method of thiocyanate leaching was
invented by Rong Yu Wan and K. Marc LeVier of Colorado 2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
and a patent was applied for in 2004 (US #0197249ki). Acid The pregnant thiocyanate leach solution contains
thiocyanate solution is used to leach precious metals as a dissolved gold in the form of gold-thiocyanate complex,
precious metal-thiocyanate complex. The leach solution and the pregnant solution is removed for further
may contain a large molar ratio of ferric iron to processing to recover the dissolved gold.
thiocyanate. The precious metal is removed from the Residual solids depleted in gold may be subjected to
pregnant thiocyanate solution by transferring the precious additional metal recovery operations or to further
metals to precious metal-cyanide complex and then treatment for disposal in an appropriate manner.
loading this onto absorbent material. The residual cyanide
Adoption by placer gold miners
in the thiocyanate leach solution is converted to
thiocyanate for further leaching. Thiocyanate leaching is a neglected method for
E-goldprospecting (www.e-goldprospecting.com) has recovering placer gold and the author is unaware of any
a good account of thiocyanate leaching. companies, recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

Figure 20. GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOCYANATE LEACHING


Thiocyanate can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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24: Thiosulphate leaching – 1970s research in Canada


Thiosulphate leaching has the potential to replace
cyanide leaching, being relatively cheap, environmentally
Operation
less hazardous and capable of leaching gold from difficult 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
refractory hardrock ores such as carbonaceous or Carlin Sodium thiosulphate pentahydrate Na2S2O3.5H2O
types. In contrast, cyanide cannot leach gold from (‘hypo’) is usually supplied in powder form sourced from
refractory ores without a preliminary step [69]. specialised manufacturers. A solution of hypo is prepared,
Thiosulphate leaching is by sodium thiosulphate and then ammonia added to make the leachate strongly
Na2S2O3, an essentially non-toxic colourless crystalline alkaline (10 to 10.5pH). Copper ions must also be present
compound that is more familiar as the pentahydrate, as essential oxidising agent. The ammonia and copper are
Na2S2O3.5H2O known as sodium hyposulphite or ‘hypo’ as catalyst-like for they are neither produced nor consumed
used with silver in traditional photography. but recycled. In practice, copper may precipitate cupric
Although hypo had been known since the early 1900s sulphide that inhibits leaching, while ammonia may escape
to be useful in leaching gold, it was only in the 1970s that Hypo tends to be unstable, avoidable by adding
it was subjected to detailed study, leading to a patent sulphite ions to regenerate the thiosulphate and prevent
being awarded to Roman N. Genik-Sas-Berezowsky, silver precipitating too early as insoluble silver sulphide.
Verner Sefton and Lynton Gormely of Canada in 1978 (US The milled ore is added to the thiosulphate leach with
#4,070,182) assigned to Sherritt Gordon Mines Ltd. a pulp density of 40 to 45% solids. Hypo consumption
For three decades thiosulphate leaching has been may be as much as 30 kilos per ton or ore, but can be cut
heralded as being close to challenging cyanide leaching to 13 kilos/ton by adding reducing agents as chelates.
[69]. It has been the subject of four to five US patents 2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
every year since the late 1970s and the focus of hundreds The pregnant thiosulphate leach solution contains
of research papers. In spite of this, thiosulphate leaching dissolved gold in the form of gold-thiosulphate complex,
has not yet been properly commercialised. A breakthrough and the pregnant solution is removed for further
seems tantalisingly close as shown by the patent awarded processing to recover the dissolved gold.
to Jinxing Ji, Christopher Fleming, Paul West-Sells and Activated carbon or resins are ineffective for
Ralph Hackl of Canada and patented in 2006 (US recovering the gold from the pregnant leach solution.
#7,066,983) assigned to Placer Dome Inc. Instead gold is recovered by cementation method
The thiosulphate method uses a solution of hypo using zinc, iron or copper. Under controlled conditions,
Na2S2O3.5H2O in the presence of an oxidising agent to gold recovery from suitable ores can exceed 90%.
dissolve (‘leach’) fine gold as a strong complex
[Au(S2O3)2]3-, and then to precipitate easy-to-recover Adoption by placer gold miners
gold. The preferred oxidising agent is copper ions. In
The author is unaware of thiosulphate leaching being
contrast, thiourea leaching uses ferric iron (Fe3+) whereas
used at large-scale placer gold mines, large or small. The
cyanide leaching uses oxygen direct from the air.
main deterrent is the uncertain technology, variable
Adding more oxidising agent is unnecessary for a Cu-
results and difficulty of controlling the process efficiently.
bearing ore.

Figure 54. GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOSULPHATE LEACHING


Thiosulphate can leach >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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7: Thiourea – chemical leaching of gold


Thiourea has been heralded for decades as an
alternative to cyanide, but as yet few if any industrial
Operation
operations have proved to be a commercial success. In Thiourea is usually supplied in powder form sourced
theory, thiourea can be used to recover gold from milled from specialised manufacturers. A weak solution of
hardrock, and has potential for leaching gold from placer thiourea is prepared, and the first stage is the oxidation of
concentrates. Thiourea leaching can proceed four or five thiourea to form formamidine disulphide:
times faster than cyanide leaching, making thiourea more 2CS(NH2)2 + 2Fe3+ = C2S2(NH)2(NH2)2+ 2Fe2++ 2H+
effective at dissolving large gold particles, such as those
The role of the formamidine is to oxidise the gold to
typical of placer gold. [42]
form a gold-thiourea complex:
Thiourea CS(NH2)2 is an organic compound that is
+ 2+
classed by INCHEM/WHO as, “toxic. Known animal 2Au + C2S2(NH)2(NH2)2 + 2CS(NH2)2 + 2H = 2Au(CS(NH2)2)
carcinogen and probable human carcinogen. May cause Importantly, “formamidine acts as an oxidiser as well
irreversible effects. May affect fertility. May be fatal if as a complexing agent, supplying about 50% of the
swallowed. May cause allergic skin reaction. May cause ligands to the complexation” and due to this thiourea
skin ulcers, liver damage. Handle as a carcinogen. Gloves, leaching of gold is faster than cyanide leaching [43]. The
safety glasses, good ventilation. Protect against spills and overall equation for thiourea leaching is:
the spread of dust.” An end product is cyanamide that 2Au + 4CS(NH2)2 + 2Fe3+ = 2Au(CS(NH2)2++ 2Fe2+
contains the cyanide radical and reacts with acids to form
To drive the equation to the right, thiourea must be
a highly toxic gas. Cyanamide is toxic if swallowed,
present in excess, and “the ratio of complexing and
harmful to the skin and is an eye irritant.
The thiourea method uses a weak solution of
oxidising agents must be carefully adjusted’ to avoid
excessive oxidation of the thiourea solution and
thiourea in the presence of an oxidising agent to dissolve
consequent excessive use of reagents [43].
(‘leach’) fine gold into solution, and then precipitate it as
In a final step, the formamidine breaks down
easy-to-recover gold.
irreversibly to cyanamide and elemental sulphur.
In thiourea leaching of gold, ferric iron (Fe3+) is used
The sulphur is a potential problem to the success of
as an oxidising agent, it being the most effective
the thiourea method, for it forms a fine grained sticky
compared to alternatives such as hydrogen peroxide,
coating which can inhibit the leaching of gold.
sodium peroxide, ozone, potassium permanganate and
formamidine disulphide. In contrast, cyanide leaching uses Adoption by placer gold miners
oxygen as an oxidising agent direct from the air.
Sufficient ferric iron (Fe3+) should already be The author is unaware of thiourea leaching being
liberated and available to make the addition of more used at large-scale placer gold mines, large or small. The
oxidising agent either limited or unnecessary for a highly main deterrent is the uncertain technology, variable
oxidised hardrock ore, or in a typical placer ore. results and difficulty of controlling the process efficiently.

Figure 21. GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOUREA LEACHING


Thiourea can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 150μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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8: Nitric acid – chemical cleaning of gold


Operation
The concentrate must be dry and as free of
magnetite as possible. The concentrate is dried by placing
it in a heat-resistant metal pan on a stove. After being
allowed to cool, a magnet removes the magnetite (Fe3O4).
The operator must have special training and wear
protective clothing and eye-protection in accordance with
Figure 22. NITRIC ACID CLEANING local regulations and international norms. The ‘acid site’
Extremely toxic fumes being generated by hot concentrated nitric must be out-of-doors in a well-lit fenced off area away
acid poured onto dry concentrate. After a few seconds the brown from other people. All non-essential personnel must be
fumes are completely broken down to harmless nitrogen.
Artisanal miners in Kyrgyzstan (photo: Peter Appel of GEUS) excluded to minimise exposure to risk. Only one operator
is needed, but a second operative should be within 10
Hot concentrated nitric acid (HNO3) helps to recover
metres to respond to any emergency. It should not be
fine gold from concentrates. Peter Appel of the Denmark-
attempted if raining, snowing or in high wind.
Greenland Geological Survey noted the method being
The concentrate is put in a heat-resistant, acid-
used by artisanal gold miners in Kyrgyzstan to liberate
resistant, pan on a small stove inside the ‘acid site’ and
gold from sulphide ores [18]. It appears over 90% of gold
warmed up. Then the operator uses a long-handled pot to
of 100μ to 300μ is recoverable, but tests are needed to
pour hot, concentrated nitric acid into the pan of dry
confirm what percentage of <100μ can be recovered.
concentrate. The operator refrains from leaning forward
However if mercury is present, from previous processing,
and must wear protective clothing and eye-protectors.
from contamination or from native mercury or cinnabar,
Immediately reaction starts, the operator steps back and
then potentially explosive chemicals may form.
vacates the area BEFORE heavy brown fumes appear.
Nitric acid has been used in gold recovery for at least
The brown fumes are of nitrogen oxides and are
150 years as a minor process step. Paul B. Queneau and
EXTREMELY TOXIC and even trace amounts cause severe
John D. Prater of Utah invented a nitric acid method of
lung problems. The process is exceedingly dangerous.
recovering base metals and gold, patented in 1974 (US
However, if the process is carried out outdoors in an open
#3,793,429) assigned to Kennecott Copper. This method
place then the brown fumes are blown away after a few
adds nitric acid continuously to decompose pyrite and
minutes. After a short time in the atmosphere the brown
arsenopyrite to liberate copper, gold etc. but achieves only
fumes disintegrate into harmless nitrogen and oxygen.
80% gold recovery, and requires the feed to be <53μ.
These limitations were overcome by Rein Raudsepp, Adoption by placer gold miners
Ernest Peters and Morris J.V. Beattie of Vancouver whose
The nitric acid method does not appear to be being
nitric acid method was patented in 1987 (US #4,647,307),
used by placer mining companies but is being used by
achieving 99.3% gold recovery in laboratory conditions.
artisanal placer gold miners in parts of South America and
However the patented process is complex and it does not
elsewhere [45].
seem to have become commercialised.

Figure 23. GOLD RECOVERY BY NITRIC ACID CLEANING


Nitric acid cleans gold and aids recovery of >90% of 100-300μ, gold but its effect on <100μ gold needs study. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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9: Aqua regia - chemical leaching of gold


Aqua regia was invented by Iranian alchemist Abu Operation
Musa Jabir ebn Hayyan about 800 A.D. This followed from
This text is based on recovering gold from scrap by
his discovery of hydrochloric acid upon mixing common
Shor International www.shorinternational.com.
salt with sulphuric acid.
The two acids mix quietly – avoid splashes, protect
Aqua regia is a mixture of three to four volumes of
eyes and work in the open or under a fume hood. Both
concentrated hydrochloric acid to one volume of
acids emit acrid fumes. No heat is evolved when mixing
concentrated nitric acid. It is a corrosive, fuming,
but the aqua regia at once starts to emit chlorine gas
aggressive liquid and must only be used by a trained
slowly for several days. Never stopper an aqua regia
chemist following strict precautions in a properly equipped
bottle for chlorine may build up and explode it. The aqua
laboratory or outside space, and only after a hazard
regia is used immediately, or days or weeks later.
analysis has been prepared.
Typically 1-2 kilos of scrap are put in an empty 6-litre
Neither of the acids in aqua regia can dissolve gold,
Ehrlenmeyer flask under a fully ventilated fume hood, or
but in combination are very aggressive in dissolving gold.
outside. The aqua-regia is added slowly, such as drop-by-
The fuming and yellow colour of aqua regia are due
drop from a bottle set on a shelf above the reaction flask.
to the reaction of nitric acid HNO3 with hydrogen chloride
Dangerous fumes of nitrogen oxides are generated;
form water H20 plus two chemicals that are yellowish and
being heavier than air they require either a very good
volatile - nitrosyl chloride NOCl and chlorine Cl2. The
fume hood, or for the process to be done outside.
newly-formed nitrosyl chloride decomposes to nitric oxide
When bubbling ceases and no more brown fumes are
NO and chlorine.
produced then a little hydrochloric acid is added. A further
Nitric acid HNO3 is a powerful oxidizer, which will
spurt of activity may occur if the original hydrochloric acid
actually dissolve a virtually undetectable amount of gold,
has been exhausted. When reaction has ceased, the
forming gold ions (Au3+).
pregnant solution is poured off into a glass or plastic
Ausolid + 3NO3-aq + 6H+aq = Au3+aq + 3NO2 gas + 3H2Oliquid container, leaving the solid residue in the reaction vessel.
Hydrochloric acid HCl supplies chloride ions (Cl-) in The process is repeated with more aqua regia until
large amounts which attack the gold to produce no bubbling or brown fumes are seen, even if the reaction
chloraurate anions AuCl4- in solution: vessel is gently warmed and gently agitated. All the gold
Au aq + 4Cl-aq = AuCl4-aq
3+ has now been dissolved.
The contents of the reaction vessel are vacuum
This is an equilibrium reaction favouring formation of
filtered, and the gold precipitated from the pregnant
chloraurate anions. It results in a removal of gold ions
solution as described in www.shorinternational.com.
from solution and allows further oxidation of gold by the
nitric acid, and so more gold is dissolved. In addition, gold Adoption by placer gold miners
may be oxidized by free chlorine in the aqua regia.
Aqua regia is rarely, if ever, used by placer gold
miners. A few recreational miners do use aqua regia but it
has not become popular [44].

Figure 24. GOLD RECOVERY BY AQUA REGIA LEACHING


Aqua regia can dissolve (leach) 90-100% of gold even as large as 1mm, but is too aggressive for mining use. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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10: Borax – early smelting of gold

Operation
The artisanal method of ‘early smelting’ is reported
by Peter Appel from the Philippines, and outlined below.
Hardrock ore is first crushed and milled. The milled
ore is then subjected to gravitational separation to
produce a black sand concentrate with visible gold.
The concentrate (one part) is dried carefully and then
mixed in a very small plastic bag only a few centimetres in
size with borax (three parts). After mixing, a few drops of
water are added.
The plastic bag in put in a pottery bowl serving as a
crucible, and positioned tilted on a few pieces of charcoal.
The mixture of borax and heavy mineral is heated by
a blow torch. The blow torch is gasoline fuelled, is very
Figure 25. BORAX SMELTING
Smelting concentrate to recover gold in the Philippines. (photo: cheap and already used by the artisanal miners for
Peter Appel of GEUS, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) burning amalgam. The heating continues until first the
‘Early smelting’ is possible on unclean concentrate to borax melts and later the gold melts.
recover fine gold that might be lost if upgrading were to Borax depresses the melting point of gold. The
be attempted by amalgamation or gravitational means. molten gold is heavier than the other heavy minerals
The ‘early smelting’ method of recreational miners is which float off as slag to leave a nice gold pellet.
described at www.nuggethunters.org [46,47]. The ore is The entire process only takes a few minutes.
screened or milled at 2mm and the black sand soaked in Adoption by placer gold miners
acidic acid for couple of days to help break down
sulphides, then carefully dried. The flux is of anhydrous ‘Early smelting’ assisted by borax has been used for
borax Na2B4O7 (5 parts), #70 silica sand SiO2 (40 parts), many years by small-scale gold miners in the Benguet
soda ash Na2CO3 (10 parts) and sodium nitrate NaNO3 area north of Manila in the Philippines as an alternative to
(20 parts) as oxidizer. The ingredients are mixed and mercury or cyanide. Elsewhere borax-assisted smelting is
stored in a container and kept dry. sometimes used by artisanal miners, but only after
Flux (1-2 parts) is added to the concentrate (1 part) mercury amalgamation or cyanide leaching.
and mixed well. The mixture is spooned into the crucible Smelting assisted by borax is common among
and dampened with rubbing alcohol. The mixture is fired recreational and industrial gold miners in North America,
by the acetylene torch up to 1,100°C and the heat kept Russia and Mongolia upon concentrates that are clean.
until the mixture is molten and a bright yellow white. But ‘early smelting’ is advocated for recreational miners by
The molten material is poured into a cast-iron mould, www.nuggethunters.org [46,47] for recovering fine gold
requiring special clothes and care [46,47,48]. from concentrates that are not particularly clean.

Figure 26. GOLD RECOVERY BY SMELTING WITH BORAX


Smelting with borax can recover fine gold, but usually only from a clean concentrate. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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30: Bioleaching – 1980s research in Wales and California


Bioleaching is the extraction of metal from its ore by Operation
means of microbes. An introductory account can be read
This text is based on the Geobiotics method of
at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioleaching.
bioleaching as presented in US patent #5,378,437.
The Pooley method of bioleaching was invented by
Mass cultivation of the chosen micro-organisms is
Frederick D. Pooley of Wales and patented in 1987 (US
undertaken in outdoor ponds in a sunlit site close to the
#4,497,778) with limited success.
ore body. The culture pond is lined with plastic or
The Geobiotics method of bioleaching was invented
concrete and the water body is 10-30m wide and 20-50m
by Dennis Kleid, William Kohr and Francis Thiobodeau of
deep. The culture pond is fitted with a pumping system to
California who applied for a patent in 1992, awarded in
permit harvesting and recirculation of the growth media.
1995 (US #5,378,437). It met with greater success. The
Algae are the most convenient. Each species has
method is suitable for ores of grades as low as 0.02 Troy
particular tolerance of physical and chemical conditions,
ounces per ton. Advantages are:
² economic: simple and cheap, and few technicians required; and nutritional requirements including phosphorous,
² environmental: the microbes are natural and easy to cultivate. nitrogen, sulphur, iron, manganese, trace elements and
Disadvantages are: ions. The pond is kept strongly alkaline, pH7-10, by
² economic: bacterial leaching process is very slow; adding lime or phosphate buffer. Following guidance of
² environmental: Sulphuric acid and H+ ions can leak and turn the patent, annual yields of 40 dry tons per hectare are
surface water and groundwater acidic, and heavy metals such
as iron, zinc and arsenic be leached by acid mine drainage. possible, and the microbes are sprayed onto the ore from
the pond at the time of maximal cyanide production.
Suitable microbes include:
² algae – Chlorella vulgaris, Cyanopora paradoxa and Bioleaching may be done in three settings:
Cyanidium caldarium; ² tank bioleaching – milled ore in a tank;
² blue-green cyanobacteria – Anacystis nidulans; ² heap bioleaching – milled ore in a heap; or
² bacteria – Chromobacterium violatum, Chromobacterium ² in-situ bioleaching – blasted ore in situ.
flavum, certain Bacillus species (pyocyaneus, flourescens, Oxidation of gold to gold-cyanide complexes
violaceous, mesentericus, nitrificans), certain Pseudomonas
species (aeruginosa, fluorescens, aureofaciens, cyanogena, commences once the microbes contact the ore, often with
liquifaciens, cepacia); and the gold (I) ion – [Au+][CN-]2. Biosorption is “automatic
² fungi –notably Marasmius oreades (‘Fairy Rings’), the Snow and immediate” even if the microbes are dead.
Mould basidiomycete and some Fusarium species.
The fluid with microbes and biosorbed gold is pumped
Cyanogenesis is the same in all these microbes, by into a settling pond or tank at least 3m deep and allowed to
the oxidative decarboxylation of the glycine in a process settle, aided by flocculants. The sludge of living and dead
stimulated by methionine or other methyl-group donors: microbes is harvested and the biosorbed gold recovered.
NH2CH2COOH J HCN + CO2 + 4[H]
An interesting approach is to co-culture microbes: Adoption by placer gold miners
² bacteria producing glycine in bulk; Bioleaching has not been adopted by placer gold
² same bacteria able of absorbing gold-cyanide ion complexes;
² micro-organisms liberating methionine in bulk; and miners as it poses too many challenges. Eventually a
² algae able to produce cyanide from a glycine substrate. simplified version may be acceptable.

Figure 66. GOLD RECOVERY BY BIOLEACHING


Bioleaching can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75μ, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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31: Biooxidation – 1980s research in British Columbia and California


Biooxidation oxidises both iron and sulphur under
acidic conditions, causing the solubilisation of iron as ferric
Operation
(III) ion and sulphide as sulphate ion. This liberates the The ore is first batch tested to determine if
encapsulated gold making it accessible to leaching. biooxidation is effective. Batch testing may require six
During the 1980s, biooxidation became the focus of months due to the time required for the bacteria to adapt
intense research effort, offering a low-cost means of to the substrate and the time gap between inoculation of
preparing refractory hardrock ores to make them the ore and its oxidation. The testing and evaluation can
responsive to leaching such as cyanide leaching. be accelerated using a device such as the Oxidor column
Biooxidation research continues unabated and a few reactor. Suitable cultures include the following species of
milestone patents are outlined below. bacteria, either alone or in combination: Thiobacillus
The Hackl biooxidation method was invented by thiooxidans, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Sulfobacillus
Ralph P. Hackl, Frank W. Wright and Albert Bruynsteyn of thermosulfidooxidans, Metallosphera sedula and
British Columbia, patented in 1991 (US #4,987,081) and Leptospirillium ferrooxidans.
assigned to GB Biotech Inc of British Columbia. The A bacterial culture is developed that can grow in high
method cultures of at least three species of bacteria - acidity and high metal content. The bacteria suspension is
Thiobacillus thiooxidans, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans and used to inoculate ore stacked in the open air resting on a
Leptospirillium ferrooxidans. The cultures are subjected to pad system. Biooxidation has a choice of settings:
increasing concentrations of dissolved arsenic and low pH ² tank biooxidation - for refractory ores of relatively high grade
to raise their tolerance. ² heap biooxidation - for refractory ores of relatively low grade.
The Kohr biooxidation method was invented by Typically 180 to 600 days is required to oxidise the
William J. Kohr of California, patented in 1995 (US iron and sulphur in the ore. This puts pressure on cash-
#5,573,575) and assigned to Biotech Inc of California. flow, increased the mine footprint and adds to production
Refractory sulphide ore is crushed and separated into a costs. Care is needed in the heap design to ensure fine
fine and coarse fraction. The coarse fraction is stacked in materials do not plug the voids essential for aeration and
a heap, and a concentrate produced from the fine liquid flow. Plugging results in starvation of nutrients,
fraction. Alternatively biooxidation can be assisted by carbon dioxide and oxygen and uneven distribution of the
forming particulates that are then heaped (US bacteria. Adequate air flow is essential to cool the heap
#5,246,486) and polymer agglomeration may be from the exothermic effects of biooxidation.
beneficial (US #5,332,559). After biooxidation the resulting oxidised ore is highly
Biooxidation of carbonaceous and carbonaceous- acidic and, for leaching by cyanide must first be treated
sulphidic ores is difficult, and requires a specific carbon- with lime to raise the pH substantially.
deactivating microbial assemblage (US #5,244,493).
The Oxidor column reactor for testing and evaluating Adoption by placer gold miners
refractory ores was invented by Andrew Carter of Texas Biooxidation is inappropriate to placer gold ores as
and patented in 2002 (US #6,498,031), assigned to sulphides are rare and gold is in the form of free particles.
Oxidor Corporation.

Figure 67. GOLD RECOVERY BY BIOOXIDATION


Biooxidation can oxidise sulphide ores sufficient for leaching. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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69: Gold-binding proteins – 2000s in research in Washington


Gold-binding proteins (GBPs) have recently been
recognised as having potential applications in recovering
Operation
fine gold and in gold exploration. GBPs are proteins that GBP-enabled magnetic separation of extremely fine
have a high specificity and affinity for gold [188]. gold particles from magnetite-rich slurry. A “magnetic
A research team at the University of Washington led mineral binding agent including a gold-specific protein” is
by Clement Furlong with funding from Placer Dome Inc added to a sample to form a complex of magnetic mineral
investigated gold-binding proteins and registered a patent and gold. A magnetic field is applied and the complex
in 2005 (US #6,875,254). The patent is highly innovative removed from the liquid. In a lab test, 3μ gold beads were
but broad-brush in character and the methods it proposes coated with GBP antibodies and bound to magnetic beads
are not yet commercial. However the speed of advance in to form a complex. Being magnetic, the complex was
parallel subjects such as immunology and microbiology pulled to the wall of a microcentrifuge in a magnetic field
may lead to sudden breakthroughs. while the other material settled to the bottom of the tube.
The patent stretches the meaning of GBPs to In a very different test, gold was bound to natural
embrace all “gold-specific non-naturally occurring binding magnetite by means of a reagent with both gold-and-
ligand to gold” in a protein, polypeptide, peptide, protein magnetite-binding-domains to form a complex that could
fragment, oligonucleotide, carbohydrate, antibody, be separated by magnetic methods.
chelating agent, magnetic agent, hydrophobic agent or GBP-assisted floatation – a GBP is modified to form a
any combination of these. hydrophobic reagent by reacting with valeric anhydride to
The patent envisages many types of gold recovery form a GBP with C5 hydrophobic tails (C5-GBP). A
mechanisms involving GBP, or rather “binding ligands to laboratory experiment showed C5-GBP bound to extremely
gold”, such as: fine gold (“micron gold”) could reside at the oil-water
² GBP-enabled magnetic separation to recovering extremely interface. However in the author’s opinion this result
fine gold particles from magnetite-rich slurry. should be treated with caution for gold itself is
² GBP-assisted floatation using GBPs modified to form a
hydrophobic and the merit of adding C5 hydrophobic tails
hydrophobic reagent.
is not demonstrated.
² GBP-assisted microbial recovery of sub-micron gold (<1μ).
GBP-assisted microbial extraction and transport is
envisaged for recovering sub-micron gold (<1μ). The
patent draws attention to strains of Escherichia coli cells
that express an extra-cellular GBP domain will bind small
particles of gold, and then the Escherichia coli can be
induced to follow a chemical gradient of attractants such
as ribose sugar to lead them to a recovery destination.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Gold-binding proteins (GBPs) have yet to be
demonstrated as being commercially viable.

Figure 142. GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD-BINDING PROTEINS (GBPs)


Recovery of gold by gold-binding proteins is not yet commercial but may eventually become so. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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70: Phytomining – 2000s research in New Zealand


Operation
The gold-bearing soil, such as a natural placer or
more likely an expanse of gold-rich tailings, is first planted
with a plant capable of absorbing gold in solution and
storing it (‘bioaccumulation’).
The plant species needs to be a fast-growing and
high-biomass species. When the crop reaches maturity,
lixiviant chemicals capable of dissolving gold are applied to
the soil that make some of the gold (plus any mercury)
and other toxic metals soluble.
The plants absorb the solutions with the metals and
Figure 143. PHYTOMINING bioaccumulate the metals in their roots, shoots and
Small-scale field trials of gold phytomining trial in Brazil. leaves.
(photo: courtesy of Dr. Chris Anderson of Massey University - The lixiviant chemical may be toxic to animals and
http://ite.massey.ac.nz/staff/rhaverka/Phytomining.htm)
man but harmless to the crop, such as cyanide that may
Phytomining is a still largely experimental. Research be broken down in the soil.
is investigating plants able to grow on toxic soils polluted After a few days or weeks, the crop is harvested and
by mine waste or from natural high toxic metal anomalies. processed by incineration to recover gold, mercury and
Not only is a ‘ground cover’ of plants produced, but also other metals in the ash.
some plants absorbed such large amounts of toxic metals Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand are
that ‘bioremediation’ is sometimes possible by cropping testing the use of common crops such as rapeseed to soak
the plants to remove the metals. up toxic contaminants from soil at abandoned gold mining
The next step has been very recent – to investigate if sites, and to return the land to safe agricultural use. The
valuable metals can be mined by cropping such plants, the idea is that the gold harvested during the operation covers
plants absorbing the valuable metals front the soil – and the cost of clean-up and provides revenue for the
so a new scientific line of investigation emerged for which education and training of the communities to create
term ‘phytomining’ has been coined. The first sustainable incomes by farming the land.
experimental success was as commercial production of
nickel metal from plants grown on soils with abnormally Adoption by placer gold miners
high concentrations of nickel.
Phytomining is making rapid progress. The author
Recently there has been some success by New
suggests several routes to commercialisation may emerge:
Zealand researchers with gold recovery from crops of ² phyto-reclamation as an incentive to cleaning up tailings; and
plants grown on soils with high gold content [189-192] ² gold recovery from difficult placers, e.g. fine gold in laterites.
see: http://ite.massey.ac.nz/staff/rhaverka/Phytomining.htm.

Figure 144. GOLD RECOVERY BY ECOLOGIC E-TOWER


Recovery of placer gold by the Ecologic ‘gold concentrator’ based on manufacturer’s information. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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32: Agglomeration – 1980s research in Australia and China


Operation
The slurry is piped into a special reactor. Here the
hydrophobic-oleophilic properties of gold induce the fine
gold to agglomerate into oil-saturated activated carbon
particles.
In theory gold particles will agglomerate with oil, but
in practice gold grades are so low that there is not enough
gold to form oil-gold agglomerates. So for CGA to work it
is first necessary to use another hydrophobic material (in
this case, comminuted coal dust) to either agglomerate
Figure 68. COAL-GOLD AGGLOMERATION with the gold or to act as a carrier of the gold particles.
Flowsheet for placer gold recovery by CGA. (drawing: Robin Grayson)
The first step is to create coal-oil agglomerates about
Agglomeration ‘snowballs’ extremely fine gold with 5mm in diameter using coal dust bound by kerosene, light
coaly or oily material to produce large particles that can gas oil or fuel oil. Agglomerates smaller than 500μ seem
then be recovered easily by floatation. to be more effective in recovering gold.
Coal-gold agglomeration (CGA) makes use of gold The second step is to add the coal agglomerate to
being hydrophobic (resists water-wetting) and oleophilic the gold-bearing slurry in the special reactor. The gold
(easily wetted by oils). CGA only works with fine gold, particles, due to their oleophilic nature, continue to enter
making CGA appropriate for placer tailings with fine gold the agglomerate particles until the operator considers the
that would otherwise be lost, and for milled hardrock ore. target gold concentration has been reached.
CGA began with BP plc in Australia who built a pilot Then the gold enriched oil-saturated activated carbon
plant processing 1 ton/hour of placer gold concentrate. A particles are agitated and the agglomerated gold is
patent was awarded to Mark Cadzow, Graham Elkes, mechanically separated.
Gavin Ewin and David Mainwaring in 1986 (US Finally gold is recovered from the agglomerates by
#4,585,548) and assigned to BP Australia. The team then burning them, the coal and oil incinerating to leave gold
tried CGA for low-grade hardrock ores with <1 gram/ton and ash. The gold is then separated from the ash.
of gold, patented in 1990 (US #4,976,781).
In China, Zhao Bing and colleagues found CGA had Adoption by placer gold miners
“many advantages” over cyanide and claimed 88% Early success in recovering placer gold with CGA did
recovery of gold in amalgamation tailings. In Africa, lab not lead to its adoption by placer gold miners. Yet it might
experiments by Kotze and Petersen achieved 85% gold allow high % gold recovery from ‘difficult’ placers, such as
recovery from artificial gold-slurry mixtures [77-82]. fine gold in laterites (as in much of South America, Africa,
A CGA pilot by Envi-Tech Inc under the Canada- Australia and parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China),
Alberta MDA project in 1993/94 indicated gold recovery without the use of mercury or cyanide. Recent work in
from agglomeration-adsorption technology may be 95- Turkey shows high % recovery is possible for gold
99% but no results seem to have been published. between 53μ and 300μ [83].

Figure 69. GOLD RECOVERY BY AGGLOMERATION - generalised


Coal-gold agglomeration (CGA) can recover 90% of gold in the range 53-300μ [83]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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33: Oleophilic adhesion – 1980s research in Alberta


Oleophilic adhesion is the selective adhesion of a
mineral to a surface coated in oil, grease or wax. Gold is
Operation
ideal being oleophilic, and proven to be naturally The text is adapted from the account of the greasy
hydrophobic [84,85]. Conversely magnetite and quartz are belt described by Royer Luckenbach in his patents.
oleophobic and hydrophilic. Yet gold recovery by oleophilic Hardrock ore is milled to 2.5mm – a major advantage
adhesion failed to challenge froth floatation, in spite of over froth floatation that requires much finer milling.
requiring less water and less grinding, ease of Placer ore is screened at 2.5mm. Gold in the oversize
regenerating oils/greases/waxes and general simplicity. In is separated in a simple device such as sluice. The
contrast, oleophilic adhesion became the standard means <2.5mm fraction is subjected to oleophilic adhesion.
of recovering diamonds on grease tables and grease belts. Water is added to the <2.5mm feed to create a slurry
Oleophilic adhesion was formerly known as the of about 25% solids by volume. Hydrophilic particles are
‘contact method of ore concentration’, for which Royer wetted by adding a trace of wetting agent such as sodium
Luckenbach of New York was awarded two patents in silicate (see patents) or liquid non-frothing detergent. This
1923 and a third in 1931 (US #1,448,928, US #1,478,237 weakens surface tension and sinks ‘float gold’.
and US 1,792,544). The patents propose a sticky coating The ‘greasy belt’ is an endless rubber belt moving
of oil, grease or wax being smeared on an endless belt between rollers, one of which is a drive roller. The belt is
(e.g. a Frue vanner) to which gold particles would be coated in a thin sticky (‘tacky’) coating of oil, grease or
attracted and remain attached even when the belt inverts wax but not so liquid that it might drip free when the
over an end roller where black sand and quartz are shed moving belt inverts on passing over the end roller.
as tailings. The gold is removed from the moving inverted Luckenbach suggests a flexible resin binder such as
belt by a scraper, and a roller reapplies a sticky smear of rubber is added to the coating to make it waterproof.
oil, grease or wax. Luckenbach added sodium silicate to The slurry issues as a thin stream onto the moving
the smear as a wetting agent to deter settling of endless belt and the gold adheres to the sticky coating by
magnetite and other gangue minerals, and his patents oleophilic adhesion. At the end, the water and gangue
mention an extraordinary range of suitable oils, greases minerals are shed as tailings whereas the gold and other
and waxes – including candle wax, candle tar, coal tar, oleophilic particles remain stuck to the inverted belt from
horse grease, bitumen and lard. which they are removed by a scraper. The scraper also
The Lurgi method was invented by Ernst Bierbrauer removes some or all of the sticky coating.
of Germany and patented in 1940 and 1942 (US #2,189,698 The inverted belt passes across a roller that applies a
and US #2,291,447) but not for gold recovery. fresh sticky coating and then turns ‘right-way-up’ over its
The Kruyer method was invented by Jan Kruyer of end roller to again capture oleophilic particles from slurry.
Alberta and patented in 1983 (US #4,511,461) and rather
than using a sticky solid belt uses a sticky mesh belt. Adoption by placer gold miners
Rather than scraping the belt to collect the adhering Oleophilic adhesion does not appear to be being used
oleophilic particles, the belt is squeezed between rollers or by placer gold mining companies, artisanal miners or
alternatively be blown or shaken off. recreational miners in spite of its apparent simplicity.

Figure 70. GOLD RECOVERY BY OLEOPHILIC ADHESION - generalised


Recovery of placer gold by the oleophilic adhesion is unclear and the graph is highly conjectural. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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11: Froth floatation – 1930s research in Idaho and USSR


Froth floatation of gold is possible due to gold’s
surface hydrophobicity – “the antithesis of gravity Adoption by placer gold miners
concentration" [27] and therefore froth floatation can In 1916 Lang suggested that the platy shape of
recover up to 100% of very fine to moderately fine gold placer gold in black sand of the Pacific Coast of North
(<150μ), much the same as cyanide leaching. America should make it amenable to recovery by
The first paper on froth floatation of gold appeared floatation [50]. The first research report on placer gold
as late as 1914 [49]. Today froth floatation is a widely floatation was by Arthur Fahrenwald in 1933 [51] and
used method for recovering many types of minerals 1937 saw publication of floatation recovery of placer gold
including gold, platinum, chromite, fluorspar and coal. on Idaho gold dredges [3,52]. Reagents were amyl
Regarding placer gold, deterrents are the cost of xanthate and Aerofloat-15 plus either pine oil or cresylic
reagents, the need to recycle effluent and the challenge of acid frother. Gold recoveries were 47-76% – the less
floating placer gold due its depressed hydrophobicity, slimes then the better the floatation [3]. Contemporary
buoyancy and floatability due to impurities and coatings. tests in the Soviet Union with similar reagents on clean-up
But placer gold is often irregular in shape (due to natural tailings and <150μ fraction of placer ores yielded 75-90%
leaching) – even porous – and is often remarkably flat, recovery at concentration ratios of 25:1 to 42:1 [3,53,54].
and paradoxically it is these factors that make Research resumed in the 1970s in China [27] where
gravitational settling difficult yet froth floatation easier. 78-99% recovery was attained with rougher concentration
ratios of several hundred [3].
Operation
Floatation tests of Soviet Union coastal marine sands
For placer ore, the process is most appropriate to achieved 70-100% recovery of 75-125μ gold [2,27]. A
gold recovery from fine tailings or from concentrate. graph by Wang and Poling shows >95% recovery was
The feed consists of finely milled hardrock ore, or possible for “coastal type gold” <150μ with a retention
else fine tailings or placer concentrate. time of 15 minutes, and 100% recovery possible for
Slurry is made by adding water, and fed continuously <120μ with a retention time of only 5 minutes.
into a floatation tank. The Soviet Union appears to have operated the
In the floatation tank, the slurry is agitated and air world’s only full-scale floatation circuit for placer gold, a
bubbles injected. The gold particles attach themselves to six-cell floatation circuit in the 1930s that scavenged both
the meniscus of the rising bubbles. This is due to gold ‘fine’ and ‘minute’ gold from gravity tailings aboard a
being hydrophobic – and by selectively enhancing this bucket-line dredge [2,27]. It processed 300 tons of solids
tendency by adding chemicals known as ‘collectors’; by per day and although the gold recovery was “satisfactory”
controlling the collectors using ‘conditioners’; by the floatation circuit was deemed uneconomic at the then
stimulating wetting by ‘wetting agents’; by stimulating prevailing low gold price.
frothing by ‘frothing agents’ and by controlling pH. Today, froth floatation is a neglected method for
The resulting froth is then removed and the gold recovering placer gold and the author is unaware of any
recovered by either gravity settling or chemical means. commercial placer operations using this method.

Figure 27. GOLD RECOVERY BY FROTH FLOATATION


Froth floatation can separate >90% of gold <150μ, but is too slow for leaching >300μ gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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56: Gold-paraffin wax floatation – 1990s research in Brazil


The gold-paraffin wax process was developed in
Brazil as a clean non-polluting method for recovering gold
Operation
as an alternative to mercury amalgamation [167], and is This account is based on the bench experiments of
currently being assessed by Eco-Minex in Mongolia. Hamelmann and Lins in Brazil [167].
The gold-paraffin wax process as developed by The concentrate is finely divided and made into
Christina Hamelmann and Fernando Lins of CETEM, Brazil, aqueous slurry of 25-30% solids.
exploits the preference for gold particles to adhere to The slurry is heated in a container to 70°C, just 2
hydrophobic materials and thereby can be separated from degrees centigrade above the melting point of the
slurry. The selected hydrophobic material is paraffin-wax paraffin-wax used (about 68°C).
which is non-toxic, low-cost and widely available. The The temperature of the slurry is maintained at 70°C,
concentrate used in the tests was from Minas Gerais with and pieces of paraffin wax are added and allowed to melt.
a gold grade of 11 grams/ton. A mechanical stirrer disperses the melted paraffin to
The CETEM researchers found that the greater the encourage it to contact the particles in the slurry. By this
volume of paraffin wax compared to the volume of the simple means, the gold particles being hydrophobic
sample then the greater the gold recovery by the gold- adhere to the globules (droplets) of paraffin wax whereas
paraffin wax method. Attempts were made to obtain an black sand and quartz do not.
electrostatic attraction between the gold particles and the When the stirring ceases, the paraffin globules rise to
paraffin globules by controlling the acidity at pH 3, as the the surface to form a low-density paraffin phase above the
isoelectric point for gold is pH 2 and pH 3-5 for paraffin water phase. The gold is locked in the paraffin when it
[168]. In theory at pH 3 the gold particles should be solidifies as a floating solid. The solidified gold-containing
negative and paraffin globules positive, and some paraffin is removed from the surface of the aqueous
improvement in gold recovery was achieved at pH 3 phase and further processed to remove the gold.
suggesting that this mechanism was occurring. The
researchers also found xanthate as a gold collector Adoption by placer gold miners
enhanced gold recovery. The gold-paraffin wax method requires further
The CETEM researchers succeeded in achieving gold experimentation to improve % gold recovery sufficient to
recoveries of 40-50% by the gold-paraffin wax method justify interest by placer gold miners.
[167]. These results are encouraging considering the
number of untried variables that await investigation that
may be capable of greatly improving the gold recovery
sufficient to challenge mercury amalgamation.
The gold-paraffin wax method is described at www.e-
goldprospecting.com/html/gold-paraffin_process.html.

Figure 119. GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD-PARAFFIN WAX FLOATATION – results of CETEM experiments
Recovery by the experimental gold-paraffin wax method that merits further investigation. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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34: Magnetic coated gold – 1980s research in Colorado


A rather unexpected way to recover placer gold is,
having first removed magnetite and other magnetic
Operation
minerals to then selectively make the gold particles This text is based on the Kindig and Turner method
magnetic and remove them by magnetic means. presented in US patent #4,229,209.
James K. Kindig and Ronald L. Turner of Golden, Iron carbonyl liquid is sourced from specialist
Colorado gained patents in clean coal technology having suppliers and stringent precautions are applied during
discovered that by warming coal with iron carbonyl vapour transport, storage and use regarding risk of fire and risk of
the pyrite became magnetic and could then be removed acute poisoning.
more easily (US #3,938,966 and #4,175,924). The placer ore is either dry-screened or else wet-
Kindig and Turner then adapted the method for screened and then dried. Magnetic minerals are removed
placer gold with good results and they were awarded a as fully as possible.
patent in 1980 (US #4,229,209) and assigned it to Hazen The dry non-magnetic fraction is fed to a rotating kiln
Research Inc. First they removed the magnetite and serving as a reaction vessel to bring the material into
suchlike using magnetic separators. Next they put the direct contact with iron carbonyl vapours in the presence
non-magnetic placer into a rotating kiln with iron carbonyl of a gas such as nitrogen that is inert to the reaction.
vapour in an inert nitrogen atmosphere. Important The objective is to cause the decomposition of the
variables include the temperature, pressure, type of iron carbonyl to form a magnetic skin on the gold particles
carbonyl used, gas composition etc. but not on the other particles present. Typically about 0.5
The iron carbonyl selectively attaches itself to the to 4 kilos of carbonyl are added per ton of feed.
gold particles and decomposes to make a magnetic coat of Generally a reaction time of from half an hour to an
iron for the gold particles. hour is adequate, at 110-130°C. The higher the
Fe(CO)5  Fe + 5CO temperature the more complete is the gold recovery, but
at higher temperatures the iron carbonyl is liable to coat
Iron carbonyl Fe(CO)5 is a straw-yellow liquid that is
other minerals beside gold particles.
cheap, but unfortunately it requires special precautions as
After the treatment, the magnetic coated gold is
it is not only flammable but is also toxic if inhaled.
removed by dry magnetic separators such as a low to
The inventors recovered 93.3% of placer gold from
medium separator with a magnetic drum having field
Clear Creek, Colorado; then 76.5-93.3% of placer gold
strengths of up to about 2,500 gauss, electromagnetic
from the Vulture placer in Arizona, and later on their tests
drum separators up to about 7,000 gauss or induced roll
were getting 99.98% gold recovery.
separators up to about 11,000 gauss.
Of interest is that the Kindig and Turner method
requires no water at all, making it of potential value in Adoption by placer gold miners
enabling large-scale placer gold recovery in arid regions.
However, the method has not been tested on gold <100μ This 'making gold magnetic' process unsuitable for
and therefore further research is warranted. artisanal miners, but seems to have merit for large-scale
placer mining operations – particularly in dry deserts as
the process requires no water.

Figure 71. GOLD RECOVERY BY MAGNETIC COATING GOLD PARTICLES


Recovery of placer gold by the iron carbonyl method according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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12: Riffled sluices – 1960s-70s research in China and Soviet Union


Some early scientific tests on gravitational recovery of
gold by simple sluices were in China and the Soviet Union.
In China, placer scientists of the Minerals Processing
Laboratory of the Kunming Institute of Metallurgy in
Yunnan Province in the 1970s determined the percentage
gold recovery of conventional riffles [27]. It is unclear
what type of riffles were tested or the size of the feed, but
the results showed gold recovery starts to falter at 2mm,
is only 90% by 0.6mm, and collapsed to 60% at 0.2mm.
In the Soviet Union, placer scientists in the 1970s
achieved similar results with expanded metal riffles [2].
Again it is unclear what type of expanded metal riffles
were tested or the size of the feed. The results were
encouraging compared to the dismal performance of flat
bar riffles traditional in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and
Figure 28. RUSSIAN EXPANDED METAL RIFFLES
Sluice-boxes with expanded metal mesh riffles freshly installed in that are still favoured in the Russian Federation and
a Soviet bucket-line dredge in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson) Mongolia. But the results were poor compared to the
Yukon tests on expanded metal riffles a decade later.

Figure 29. GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE RIFFLED SLUICES – China tests


Poor performance of simple riffled sluices [27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Figure 30. GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE RIFFLED SLUICES – Soviet Union tests
Poor performance of simple riffled sluices [2]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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35: Flat bar riffles – 1980s research in Yukon, 1990s research in Mongolia
Operation
First, black rubber mats are laid on the floor of the
sluice box, with the ends of the mats either butted
together or slightly overlapping, imbricated down-slope.
About 6-20 riffles are welded to side bars to create a
‘riffle set’. In Mongolia the flat bar riffles are severely
slanted at 30-45° to the sluice-box floor.
Each set of riffles is slotted into the sluice-box and
bedded down on the black rubber mat. The riffle sets are
secured by metal or wooden chocks.
Figure 72. FLAT BAR RIFFLES Generally the riffle sets are orientated with the riffles
Slanted flat bar riffles on ribbed rubber matting at a placer mine slanted down-sluice. This helps to stimulate vortices and
in the Zaamar Goldfield of Mongolia. (photo: Jeanie Barnett of GSA)
shields metalwork from damage and abrasion from stones.
Flat bar riffles consist of flat metal bars inclined For clean sands, a 30° slant is preferred. For clay-rich
across a sluice box to trap black sand and gold. They have sands the slant may reach 45°. Sometimes the riffles are
been popular for at least 70 years. slanted upstream to act as a nugget catcher.
1980s tests in the Yukon, Canada Flat bar riffles are commonly used in conjunction with
Flat bar riffles on unbacked NomadTM matting were a Siberian-style PgSh wash-plant typified by violent
slanted at various angles to the sluice-box floor in tests by surging and wide fluctuation in flow and density of slurry.
Randy Clarkson and Owen Peer [8]. When slanting 15° Lacking a lip, a flat bar riffle is less able to guide sand
upstream, flat bar riffles choked with sand faster than if into a vortex, and sand exits its vortex instead of being led
slanting 15° downstream. Slanting downstream produces into the next vortex. This “severely reduces the opportunity
a slower vortex with its eye closer to the centre, and the for gravels and gold to enter the riffles” and “the turbulence…
vortex launches material at a lower angle. Performance …destroys effective vertical segregation.” [8]
was inferior to Hungarian riffles. Vortices cease after a few hours choked with
1990s tests in Mongolia sediment, yet washing continues for an 8-hour shift.
Slanted flat bar riffles on ribbed rubber matting were Flat bar riffles are less strong than angle iron
tested by a Soviet team led by Ms. Tsevel Delgertsoo in (Hungarian riffles) and more prone to bending.
1991-95 at four placer gold mines – about 25 tests in all.
Adoption by placer gold miners
Each test consisted of panning to estimate the head-
grade, measuring the volume washed in an 8-hour shift Slanted bar riffles on square-ribbed black rubber
(1-2,000m3) and sampling tails every 15 minutes across mats are the norm for placer gold mines in the former
the sluice. Careful panning was done in a gold room. Soviet Union and Mongolia.
Recovery was 60-70% for medium to large gold. Fine gold
was not fully tested – it was often present but lost.

Figure 73. GOLD RECOVERY BY SLANTED FLAT BAR RIFFLED SLUICE – Mongolia tests
Recovery of placer gold by slanted flat bar riffled sluice on ribbed rubber matting, tested by Mrs. Tsevel Delgertsoo. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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36: Angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles – 1980s research in Canada


Operation
To comply with the Yukon tests, the sluice-box is
tilted at 1-m fall per 4-m length of sluice to ensure the
angle iron riffles can generate large distinct vortices.
First a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a ‘step’. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
slightly better (source – Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
About 6-20 riffles are welded to side bars to create a
‘riffle set’. For best results, the angle-iron riffles are 1-inch
high with a ½ to 1-inch wide lip, tilted 15° upstream, and
spaced 2 inches apart. Each riffle set is slotted in the
Figure 74. ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES sluice-box and pressed down on the NomadTM matting.
A set of 1-inch riffled sluices being made ‘on the spot’ at the The riffle sets are secured by metal or wooden chocks.
Sharin Gol mine of Polymet Potala Ltd in Mongolia The welder has The angle iron is positioned with one of its flat sides
ensured each riffle has a 15° tilt. (photo: Robin Grayson) uppermost to act as a short slick plate and splitter to
The origin of the term ‘Hungarian riffles’ is unclear guide the bottom flow into the vortex. Its other flat side
and predates World War II. By the time of the Yukon tests obstructs the flow to retain the vortex and trap heavies.
[8] the term had become synonymous with ‘angle iron Slurry is fed at 48.8m3/hour per metre width. A very
riffles’ set across the width of a sluice-box. large concentration ratio is possible (i.e. vast amounts of
1980s tests in British Columbia and Yukon, Canada black sand are shed to produce a gold concentrate).
Lab tests using gold tracer in the University of British The Yukon tests showed angle iron riffles maintain
Columbia by James Hamilton and George Poling [7] the captured black sand in a loose state for a long time,
showed angle-iron riffles if on unbacked NomadTM matting so continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables
can recover >90% of >0.3mm gold, and 85% of 150μ clean-ups to be needed only once every 24 hours.
gold, subject to control of the feed and the riffle size,
Adoption by placer gold miners
angle and spacing.
Tests in the Yukon by Randy Clarkson and Owen Angle-iron riffles are the norm in North America and
Peer [8] confirmed the findings, and included gold tracers, common in most of the world but not everywhere. In
gold radiotracers, flume observation tanks and testing Siberia and Mongolia, inclined flat bar riffles is the norm.
performance of sluice-boxes of placer mines [86-90]. Many artisanal miners use basic ‘Hungarian’ riffles of wood.

Figure 75. GOLD RECOVERY BY ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON UNBACKED NOMAD MATTING – British Columbia tests
Recovery of placer gold in lab tests by James Hamilton and George Poling [7] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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36 continued: Angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles – 1980s research in Canada

Figure 76. ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon field tests
Recovery of placer gold by 2x2-inch angle-iron riffles @ 4-inch spacing, on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Figure 77. ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon field tests
Recovery of placer gold by 3 x3-inch angle-iron riffles @ 6-inch spacing, on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Figure 78. ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon field tests
Recovery of placer gold by 1½x2-inch angle-iron riffles @ 4-inch spacing on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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37: Expanded metal grating riffles – 1980s research in Canada

Operation
To comply with the Yukon tests, the sluice is tilted at
50 to 106cm per 4-m length of sluice to ensure the
grating can generated many small and distinct vortices.
First a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a ‘step’. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
Figure 79. EXPANDED METAL GRATING RIFFLES slightly better (source – Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
Raised expanded metal grating suitable for using as large A sheet of expanded metal grating is cut to fit snugly
expanded metal riffles. (photo: Robin Grayson) in the sluice box, and secured by metal or wooden chocks.
Expanded metal grating was invented in the early Several sections may be fitted into a sluice box, butted
1880s. The first innovative use of expanded metal as together with no overlap. Each equates to a ‘riffle set’.
riffles in a sluice was by Robert Hodgson Postlethwaite, a The grating is inserted with the raised lips facing upstream
British subject at the Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works in to serve as riffles.
San Francisco. He applied for a patent in 1897, awarded The riffles are “coarse” 4lbs/ft2 raised expanded
1900 (US #652,900). It was only in the 1980s that the metal grating identical to 4.0# grating of the Expanded
effectiveness as riffles was proved by scientific tests. Metal Manufacturers Association (EMMA) 'standards',
1980s tests in Yukon, Canada downloadable: www.naamm.org/emma/literature.php.
Randy Clarkson and Owen Peer [8] tested relatively Expanded metal riffles achieve a very large
“coarse” 4lbs/ft2 expanded metal grating and finer 1-10H concentration ratio (i.e. shed vast amounts of black sand
expanded metal mesh. In flume tests, both displayed, to achieve a gold-rich concentrate), as do flat bar riffles
“similar deposition and vortex patterns” and the mesh and angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles.
developed “smaller and more numerous vortices”. Expanded metal grating riffles can maintain the
They observed that the grating remained firmly in captured black sand in a loose state for a long time, so
place whereas the mesh warped off the NomadTM matting continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables clean-
causing “excessive scour”. ups to be needed only once every 24 hours.
The grating has to be ‘Raised (R) = Standard (S)’ and
Adoption by placer gold miners
not ‘Flattened (F)’. According to Vincent Ruth of
Continental Wire Cloth, “the applications that this product Raised expanded metal riffles of grating type are
dominates would be used when designing something that used worldwide by placer miners.
requires a walking surface.”

Figure 80. GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL GRATING ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon tests
Recovery of placer gold by expanded metal grating, type 4lbs/ft2 (4.0 grating) on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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38: Expanded metal mesh riffles – 1980s research in Canada

Operation
To comply with the University of British Columbia tests,
the sluice is tilted at 50 to 106cm per 4-m length to ensure
the mesh can generate many small and distinct vortices.
First, a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a ‘step’. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
slightly better (source – Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
Figure 81. EXPANDED METAL MESH RIFFLES A roll of raised expanded metal mesh type 1-10H is
Raised expanded metal mesh suitable for using as small
expanded metal riffles. (photo: Robin Grayson) unrolled and cut to fit the sluice box, and secured by
metal or wooden chocks. Several sections may be butted
Expanded metal mesh seems to have been used for
together with no overlap. Each equates to a ‘riffle set’.
riffles a little later than grating. It was only in the 1980s
The mesh is inserted with the raised lips facing upstream
the effectiveness of mesh was proved by scientific tests.
to serve as riffles.
1980s tests in British Columbia, Canada When unrolling the mesh, flatten it. Keep the sluice
James Hamilton and George Poling [7] tested 1-10H narrow to reduce warping. Clamping too tight may
expanded metal mesh. The mesh is ‘Raised (R) = compress the NomadTM matting and warp the mesh. Tying
Standard (S)’, not ‘Flattened (F)’. the mesh to the floor of the sluice-box inhibits warping
The riffles are 1-10H raised expanded metal mesh but prolongs cleanups; quick release bolts are better.
identical to the 1-10H expanded metal mesh manufactured Expanded metal riffles achieve a very large
by Continental Wire Cloth Inc of Calgary. Their product 1- concentration ratio (i.e. shed vast amounts of black sand
10H has not changed since the early 1980s according to to achieve a gold-rich concentrate), as do flat bar riffles
Vincent Ruth, see: www.cwcloth.com/expanded.htm. and angle iron (Hungarian) riffles.
Of concern is the susceptibility of 1-10H mesh to lose Expanded metal 1-10H mesh can maintain the
gold by the mesh warping to permit scouring of the captured black sand in a loose state for a long time, so
matting beneath. Even a small surge is likely to cause gold continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables clean-
losses for, as pointed out by Randy Clarkson and Owen ups to be needed only once every 24 hours.
Peer [8] the live sorting crescent is so shallow it is
vulnerable to being ejected. The cause of scouring is due Adoption by placer gold miners
to the ease of warping of the mesh, plus two variables: Expanded metal riffles of mesh are popular
² a surge of water, due to too much or too little water; and/or
² a surge of changed slurry, due to too much or too little solids.
worldwide amongst placer gold miners.

Figure 82. GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON UNBACKED NOMAD MATTING – B.C. tests
Recovery of placer gold by expanded metal mesh, type 1-10H on unbacked NomadTM matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Poling and Hamilton [7])

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38 continued: Expanded metal mesh riffles –research in Canada and USA

Figure 83. GOLD RECOVERY BY SMALL SLUICE WITH DIFFERENT MATTING – Zooka Tests
The superiority of NomadTM matting in recovering placer gold compared to close weave matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Figure 84. GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon tests
Recovery by expanded metal mesh (type 1-10H ?) on backed NomadTM matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

Figure 85. GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING – Yukon tests
Inability of expanded metal mesh (type 1-10H?) to retain medium-coarse placer gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

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39: McCann’s small sluice – 1980s research in California


Operation
Feed is best screened at 2.5 to 5mm, although the
manufacturer says no pre-screening is required. Pay
gravel is fed by trowel either dry or wet into the feed
hopper and the device will process about 136 kilos/hour of
solids. Rather than the wash water being added from
above, the wash water is added from three holes in the
rear of the hopper. The resultant slurry passes through a
static screen in the base of the hopper with shaped holes
Figure 86. McCANN’s SMALL SLUICE
General arrangement, details omitted. (drawing: Robin Grayson) encourage a steady outflow.
Upon escaping from the hopper, the slurry
McCann’s sluice was invented by John C. McCann of
encounters wash-water flowing over a deflector plate. The
California and patented in 1985 (US #4,525,270). This
slurry and wash-water flow over a perforated plate that
was among the most outstanding innovations to the sluice
has numerous small holes through which dense fine
made by recreational miners in North America and
particles fall into a quiet zone of slowly moving water that
elsewhere who, since sometime before the 1970s, have
is where most of the fine gold tends to be caught. Larger
been making incremental improvements to their small
particles pass down the main sluice lined with rubber v-
sluices in an effort to recover more fine gold. By the 1980s
groove riffles capture 90-98% of the visible gold, assisted
the innovative surge had become quite remarkable.
by a section of fine expanded metal mesh and a single
McCann’s sluice is a complete wash-plant satisfying a
litany of wishes of recreational miners:
“shaped riffle”. The manufacturer recommends adding a
² small, lightweight, portable device; heavy duty HFBE vibrator to assist recovery of fine gold.
² minimises water use by recycling; Tailings water flows into a filter bag at the end of the
² minimises energy consumption; sluice that retains the tailings and the cleaned water fills a
² has a good concentration ratio of 1,000:1; heavy duty 5-gallon water bucket. From here the water is
² has an adjustable slope;
recirculated many times an hour by a small submersible
² maintains a steady flow;
² recovers 90-98% of visible gold; and pump (capacity 1.89m3/hour) requiring 1.5 amps at 12
² recovers 60-80% of gold particles as fine as 30-40μ. volts allowing 20-30 hours use on a car battery.
McCann’s sluice removes technical justification for Adoption by placer gold miners
mercury. Yet in over two decades since the device was
patented and thousands sold to recreational gold miners McCann’s wash-plant is made by Micro-Sluice Gold
worldwide, the device has been overlooked by researchers Products of Wisconsin, USA (www.micro-sluice.com) and
using public funds in efforts to improve large gold sluices marketed as the Micro-Sluice, with over 3,700 units sold in
for companies [90,91] and gold sluices for artisanal miners 16 countries over the last 20 years. The device is popular
[21,26,92]. with recreational gold miners and has potential for
artisanal miners especially in arid regions.

Figure 87. GOLD RECOVERY BY McCANN’s SMALL SLUICE


Recovery of placer gold by McCann’s small sluice, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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57: Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS) – 1990s research in New Mexico


The Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS) was invented by Phil Operation
Hontz of New Mexico in the 1990s. The device was never
The DFS is an in-stream sluice, positioned in shallow
patented as it had been discussed widely on internet
fast-flowing water. If necessary rocks are arranged to
forums and is a direct descendant of earlier innovations
form a temporary dam or weir to ensure flow is adequate
based on the research on larger sluices in the Yukon tests
and fast. The legs are adjusted to ensure the DFS is
by Owen Poor and Randy Clarkson [8] and more
sloping downstream and yet is level across its width.
particularly the sluices tested by James Hamilton and
Pay gravel is screened at about 2mm and the
George Poling [7] that had raised expanded metal mesh
oversize discarded after checking for nuggets. The
riffles on unbacked NomadTM matting (miner’s moss).
undersize is put on the leading edge of the slick-plate, a
These sluices achieved >90% gold recovery down to
small quantity at a time.
about 150μ nominal diameter.
The pay gravel is swept through the sluice by the
The Damn Fine SluiceTM is a considerable advance on
water current. After the small mound of pay gravel has
these earlier sluices in being able to recover >90% gold
been cleared by this means a fresh mound is added. The
recovery down to about 50μ nominal diameter, although
current causes the pay gravel to spread out across the
rigorous testing does not appear to have been done.
width of the slick plate to assume laminar (non-turbulent)
The DFS is manufactured by the Damn Fine
flow consisting of a bottom-hugging traction carpet of
Equipment Co (www.damnfinesluice.com). This is part of
black sand overlain by a traction carpet of lights.
relentless effort by recreational miners in North America to
The traction carpet of black sand is pulled into the
recover fine gold using small sluices for small dredges,
vortices (rollers) of the riffles and the gold burrows into
high bankers and clean-ups.
the underlying layer of NomadTM matting. The lighter
The Damn Fine SluiceTM consists of a smooth slick
minerals and surplus black sand are swept out as tailings.
plate followed by a section of tiny raised expanded metal
Eventually the NomadTM matting becomes hard
mesh fitted on matting, all set in a short sluice-box. The
packed. Clean-up is rapid, as the riffles are easily removed
unit is about 1.19m long and 25cm wide, and weighs 3.63
by turning the wing-nuts on the ends of bolts that secure
kilos. It includes a pair of adjustable legs to aid setting up.
them, and the matting is lifted clear. The riffles, matting
The DFS is an in-stream sluice, with a flared intake
and sluice-box are then flushed clean into a bowl or
(‘fixed wings’) to help funnel water into the mouth of the
suchlike if needs be with a few drops of detergent added
sluice and to aid stability. The first section is a long slick
to founder any float gold. Later the contents of the bowl
plate to encourage laminar flow to guide heavy particles
are cleaned by panning, tabling or other means.
into a section of tiny raised expanded metal riffles
clamped on “heavy duty” unbacked NomadTM matting. Adoption by placer gold miners
The DFS, being an in-stream sluice, lacks a hopper
and screen, and has no means of recirculating water. Nor The outstanding success of the DFS in recovering fine
is it designed to catch gold nuggets. placer gold led to its immediate and continuing popularity
among recreational miners and has inspired many other
devices such as the PopandSon sluice.

Figure 120. GOLD RECOVERY BY DAMN FINE SLUICETM - generalised


Recovery of placer gold by Damn Fine SluiceTM according to reports by many users. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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72: PopandSon sluice – 2000s research in USA


Operation
Initial testing with chunky tungsten powder as tracer
suggested by Steve Bryce (Zooka of AGF) indicated high
percentage gold recovery at fast flows and feeds.
Using 100-200 mesh placer gold tracer run over
Figure 146. POPANDSON SLUICE 88.9cm of style #3/16 raised expanded mesh clamped on
Carrying a standard over-the shoulder PopandSon sluice in the
Gobi Desert of Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson) unbacked NomadTM matting resting on ribbed rubber mat
and sloped at 16mm per metre length, achieved nearly
100% recovery. At a steeper slope of 36.5mm per metre,
gold recovery was 95-97%. The steeper slope allowed a
much higher feed rate.
The test sluice has two sections of sluice liner, each
about 43cm long. The top section is the primary test bed,
and the end section is to scavenge gold in the tailings of
the top section. For recovery of 100-200 mesh gold (74-
Figure 147. RANGE OF RIFFLE SIZES
The large, medium and tiny raised expanded metal mesh in a 149μ) the best performance of the top section was 92-
‘standard’ PopandSon sluice. (photo: Robin Grayson) 94% using style #3/16 expanded metal mesh, but fell to
The PopandSon sluice was invented in 2005 by Steve 86% using style #1/2 expanded metal mesh.
and Jason Gaber (PopandSonminers of Alaska Gold Forum For 200-325 mesh gold (44-74μ) at a gentle slope of
AGF) in Washington State. The PopandSon sluice is a 16mm per metre length, the recovery was only 65% in
development of the innovative Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS) the top section but 85% for both sections.
invented by Phil Hontz of New Mexico and made by the Steve and Jason Gaber suggest a “fairly large drop-off in
Damn Fine Equipment Co (www.damnfinesluice.com) in recovery efficiency somewhere below 200 mesh (44 microns)”.
the 1990s. The DFS is a simple cheap device consisting of Experimental work is limited to narrow sluices (6.5
a smooth slick plate followed by a section of tiny raised inches = 165mm) for recreational miners and clean-ups.
expanded metal mesh fitted on matting, all set in a short Yet the PopandSon sluice might be scaled-up for industrial
sluice-box. This is part of relentless effort by recreational wash-plants if four issues are solved: a) screening feed to
miners in North America to recover fine gold using small about 2mm; b) preventing warping; c) preventing surging;
sluices for small dredges, high bankers and clean-ups. and d) reducing water – for each m3 of loose placer water
Steve and Jason Gaber conducted bench tests with usage is very high – 19.6m3 for steep angle.
tungsten (W) powder and gold (Au) tracers [193] in a
Adoption by placer gold miners
version of the PopandSon sluice consisting of an
aluminium sluice-box lined with simple thin ribbed rubber Expanded metal riffles of tiny mesh are increasingly
followed by unbacked NomadTM matting with style #3/16 popular amongst recreational placer gold miners, and
aluminium raised expanded metal mesh fitted on top. have potential for artisanal miners and mining companies.

Figure 148. GOLD RECOVERY BY POPANDSON SLUICE


Recovery of placer gold by the PopandSon sluice based on bench tests with gold and tungsten tracers [193]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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71: Loewen electrostatic sluice – 2000s research in Alberta


Electrostatics has been found to be useful in assisting
gravitational recovery of placer gold for over a century by
Operation
means of drywashers and related waterless equipment. This text is based on the Loewen electrostatic sluice
Little has been published on the gold recovery achieved, as presented in US patent #7,012,209.
other than generalised comments that dry methods Placer pay gravel is first screened to say 15mm and
usually recover less than wet. gold recovered by sluices, jigs or similar gravitational
Electrostatics has received little attention in water- devices. Tailings are screened <1mm and fed into the
based gravitational recovery of gold. Yet there is a feed hopper of the Loewen electrostatic sluice.
significant amount of anecdotal evidence that Alternatively milled hardrock ore is screened <1mm
electrostatics are helpful, particularly in wet recovery of and fed directly into the feed hopper of the Loewen
fine placer gold. Two examples are noted below. electrostatic sluice.
‘Differential Charging Recovery Systems’ (DCRS) The device consists of a simple inclined gravitational
were invented by Robert Barefoot of Calgary and patented sluice, typically “ten feet in length and is four inches wide
in 1990 (US #4,975,182). DCRS turning screened pay with one-and-one-half-inch high sides.”
gravel into watery slurry in which a positive electrostatic The inclined sluice is lined with “a material which
charge was induced in the water droplets and gold incurs a positive charge when immersed in water,
particles by subjecting the slurry to high-velocity spinning especially water having a pH value between 4 and 8.”
in a cyclone-like surge tank. Then the positively charged The patent suggests vinyl (PVC) to be a suitable
gold particles encounter negatively charged surfaces and material. The material has transverse ribs that serve as
are forced to settle by the strong force of electrical riffles and the gold is trapped in the intervening grooves.
attraction and the relatively weaker force of gravity. The Water is added to the feed to make it very thin
patent claimed “highly efficient recovery of the invisible slurry, “a good ratio would be nine parts water to one part
gold (less than 320 mesh)” using a 180 tons/day mobile [screened feed].”
test unit. Feeding the sluice too quickly with slurry would cause
DCRS is somewhat dauntingly complicated and one the grooves to plug. The patent does not specify the
version depends on mercury amalgamation. The system preferred flow rate at which “the gold can be observed
failed to be commercialised for many reasons, and some settling out during the process, as most of the gold will
are noted at www.barefootscureamerica.com. settle out in the first three feet of the sluice.”
The Loewen electrostatic sluice was invented by After the batch feed has been exhausted, the sluice
Wayne W. Loewen of Alberta and patented in 2006 (US is allowed to run clean. Then the contents are flushed into
#7,012,209) and is refreshingly simple. Gold is recovered a ‘clean-up pail’ and its contents are allowed to settle and
in a wet sluice lined by ribbed plastic (e.g. polyvinyl the water decanted to leave a rich gold concentrate.
chloride PVC) than is positively electrostatic when
immersed in water, and therefore catches negatively Adoption by placer gold miners
electrostatic fine gold particles by a combination of The Lowen electrostatic sluice is very new and has
electrostatic attraction and gravitational settling. yet to be marketed to placer gold miners.

Figure 145. GOLD RECOVERY BY LOEWEN’s ELECTROSTATIC SLUICE


Recovery of placer gold by Loewen electrostatic sluice according to the patent and diverse assumptions. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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58: Cleangold® sluice with magnetic riffles – 1990s research in Oregon


Operation
The Cleangold® sluice creates a fluidised bed of
black sand held in position by complex magnetic fields
trapping a carpet of magnetite. Normal riffles are
redundant, substituted by a set of corduroy-like ribs of
magnetite held by the magnetic fields.
After a few minutes, the magnetic fields attract and
hold on the otherwise smooth floor of the Cleangold®
sluice a carpet of magnetite particles from the black sand.
If magnetite is rare, Cleangold LLC recommends a little
black sand is brought from elsewhere to fire up the sluice.
Figure 121. CLEANGOLD® SLUICE Gold particles are actively trapped by the fluidised
A Cleangold® sluice, after attracting magnetic particles to create bed – not by the magnetic fields but by the fluidised bed
corduroy-like ridges that trap fine gold. (photo: Robin Grayson) being a thixotropic carpet in which heavy particles such as
The Cleangold® sluice was invented by David Plath gold are trapped and burrow down by gravity alone.
of Oregon and patented in 1999 (US #5,927,508). The Cleaning the sluice takes only a few seconds using a
Cleangold® sluice uses magnetic strips embedded in a plastic scraper to scrape the concentrate into a plastic bin.
non-magnetic rubberised sheet inserted in a plain Care is needed to decide when the sluice needs to be
aluminium sluice to attract, hold and accumulate cleaned. Cleaning too frequently renders excessive the
ferromagnetic minerals in corduroy-like ridges that serve further upgrading required, and cleaning too infrequently
as riffles capable of trapping very fine gold. risks the sluice being over-full of gold and other extremely
Overall the Cleangold® sluice is a low-cost, highly heavy minerals whereupon its effectiveness may suffer.’
efficient appropriate technology solution to upgrading gold It is clear the Cleangold® sluice can recover at least
and is capable of recovering much fine gold lost by 95% of gold present, including most of the very fine gold.
panning, sluicing and amalgamation [22,23,169-173]. It appears to be superior to mercury in recovering very
Several different versions are produced by Cleangold LLC fine gold, and appears capable of recovering a significant
equating to a gold pan, a trough and a sluice insert proportion of extremely fine gold. Positive comments have
(www.cleangold.com). been made in several independent reports.
Tests briefly mentioned in the paper by Lars Hylander
and David Plath [169] claim 60-70% recovery of gold Adoption by placer gold miners
“down to 0.005mm” at first pass, and in a second pass a The innovative Cleangold® sluice has great potential
recovery of “a further 60-70% of the remaining fines”. for placer gold recovery by artisanal miners, recreational
This suggests four permutations for the overall result – miners and by mining companies. The equipment is new
84%, 88%, 91% and 98% recovery. and is currently penetrating artisanal markets in Surinam
[22], Guianas [23] and Philippines [36, 170,171].

Figure 122. GOLD RECOVERY BY CLEANGOLD® SLUICE - generalised


Recovery of placer gold by Cleangold® sluice according to tests reported by Hylander and Plath [169]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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40: Hydraulic riffles – 1980s research in New Zealand and Canada


Operation
Washed pay gravel screened at 25mm is fed into the
sluice box at a rate of about 25m3/hour of solids. Higher
throughput is by two or more sluices in parallel.
The slurry first enters a boil box that serves as a
nugget trap, where the trap shape ensures turbulence to
prevent clogging with fines, assisted by 9-13.5m3/hour of
clean water injected at 15-35kpa pressure from a
manifold. Exiting the boil box, the slurry passes over a
Figure 88. HYDRAULIC METAL RIFFLES slick plate to calm the slurry and engender laminar flow to
A set of hydraulic metal riffles showing the manifold supplying the
elutriation water under pressure. This set was manufactured by allow the slurry to stratify with heavies concentrating near
PAuSE Ltd in New Zealand. (photo: Robin Grayson) the bottom. After the slick plate the stratified slurry
Hydraulic riffles appeared over a century ago. In their crosses the first set of hydraulic riffles where 32-48
modern form they began in New Zealand in the 1970-80s. m3/hour of clean water is injected 15-35kpa pressure from
Lindsay Guy Herron of Queenstown invented compact a manifold into the black sand to maintain a fluidised bed
hydraulic riffles patented in New Zealand (NZ #216,327, that traps the gold. The hydraulic riffles rest on unbacked
filed 1986, lapsed 1997) and the United States (US NomadTM matting to assist capture of gold.
#4,863,588, awarded 1989, lapsed 1993). The slurry continues over a second slick plate that
A typical sluice box for hydraulic riffles is short and encourages more density stratification and passes over
wide, contrasting with the long and narrow sluice box for the second set of hydraulic riffles to recover more gold.
conventional riffles. Hydraulic riffles inject pressurised Finally the slurry passes over an end section of raised
clean water into the black sand from below. This keeps expanded metal mesh that catches gold from the tails and
the bed loose and fluidised indefinitely, so gold particles helps to verify that the system is functioning properly.
continue to fall into the black sand and accumulate. Adoption by placer gold miners
Randy Clarkson noted “…unlike conventional riffles
that rely on the formation of vortices, hydraulic riffles rely Hydraulic riffles are popular in New Zealand, and
primarily on the settling velocity of gold” [86-90]. In the have spread to the Yukon (Canada), Alaska (USA),
Yukon tests, hydraulic riffles performed well at “extremely Mongolia, South America, Australia and doubtless
low feed rates” and “low water flows” but at high feed elsewhere. In Mongolia, the adoption of hydraulic riffles
rates are “only suitable for coarse gold recovery (nugget has been slow, but of the 200 or so wash-plants more
traps)”. The Yukon tests on hydraulic riffles were limited than a dozen now have hydraulic riffles including: Cold
and the author is unaware of any other tests. They are Gold Mongolia Ltd (New Zealand); Ochir LG Ltd (British-
unlikely to be as efficient as tuned conventional sluices in Dutch-Mongolian www.ochirlg.com); Gatshuurt Ltd; Jump
recovering fine gold, but have the overriding advantage of Ltd; Gazar Holdings Ltd; G&U Gold Ltd, and Barmash JSC.
compactness for ease of low-cost mobile mining.

Figure 89. GOLD RECOVERY BY HYDRAULIC RIFFLES WITHOUT MATTING – Yukon tests
Recovery of placer gold by hydraulic riffles one of NZ-style, the other unknown. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

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13: Simple jigs – 1960s-1970s research in China


Operation
The pay gravel is first disaggregated, size-sorted and
oversize rejected in a screening plant.
The slurry feed passes across the jig bed that rests
on the jig screen. At the same time, water erupts through
the holes in the jig screen from the hutch below.
The water is pushed up by some means, usually a
rubber diaphragm inserted in the hutch as a pulsator –
pushing up (upstroke) and sucking down (downstroke).
Figure 31. SIMPLE JIGS The drive is significant, either hydraulic or mechanical.
Overhead view of a conventional 2x4 cell rectangular jig. On the upstroke, the erupting water intermingles
(drawing: Robin Grayson, adapted from Nio 1978 [55])
with the jig bed, and causes all of the jig bed to be ‘jigged’
A simple jig consists of a square jig cell comprised of – the steel balls may slightly rise and fall, but the layer of
a lower water-filled chamber (hutch) covered by a jig smaller particles on or near the jig bed are pushed
screen above which slurry is introduced. Resting on the jig upwards – allowing Stokes Law to operate. The smaller
screen are large heavy particles (e.g. steel balls) that particles become sufficiently agitated to become a
constitute the jig bed. fluidised bed like quicksand – the thixotropic state. The
Small square jigs are often arranged in series (to loosened heavies fall rapidly to burrow into the protective
increase recovery) or in parallel (to increase capacity). jig bed, while lights are swept away as tailings.
A simple square jig is typical of most jigs in exhibiting On the downstroke, water is pulled downwards by
a mix of continuous discharge of fine gold and batch suction, and the upper part of the jig bed becomes a hard
discharge of coarse gold. layer – the dilatant state. The suction plus gravity pulls
Although easy to build and simple to operate, simple dense particles down to the bottom of the jig bed where
square jigs are unsuitable for efficient placer gold mining: coarse gold and gold nuggets accumulate as ‘jig bed
² the jig’s footprint is large, demanding too much space on
concentrate’ awaiting cleanout during batch discharge.
dredges where space is a premium, and too bulky to easily
make into a mobile land-based processing unit; Finer gold is flushed through the jig screen into the
² water consumption is high to very high – a serious problem bottom of the hutch to be tapped off the bottom as ‘hutch
for land-based units if water is scarce and demanding large concentrate’ continuous discharged via a spigot.
tailings ponds for water storage and recirculation; and
² high % recovery of fine gold recovery is difficult to achieve. Adoption by placer gold miners
In China in the 1960s-70s experiments by placer Simple square jigs used to be fairly popular in placer
scientists of the Minerals Processing Laboratory of the gold mining, particularly in wash-plants on-board dredges,
Kunming Institute of Metallurgy in Yunnan Province but have virtually disappeared with the advent of more
determined the percentage gold recovery of simple jigs modern jigs, although a few are seen in remote mines and
[27]. Gold recovery falters at 0.8mm, is only 90% by are occasionally used for upgrading concentrates.
0.3mm, and collapses to 50% at 0.1mm.

Figure 32. GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE JIGS – China tests


Poor performance of simple jigs [3,27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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17: Helix wheel (gold wheel) – 1900s research in Colorado


Operation
Using the Little CamelTM as an example, a gold wheel
is a rotating tilted pan with spiral ribs (‘riffles’) on its
upper surface. The Little CamelTM has seven spirals but
other makes vary from one to seven. A cup of concentrate
is added every 10-15 seconds to a point on the gold
wheel. Water is supplied by a header tank or 12-volt
submersible pump, and added via a perforated pipe to
gently flush concentrate across the face of the pan. Gold
particles are trapped by the riffles and migrate to an exit
hole in the centre for recovery. Tailings are discharged
over the lip of the rotating pan.
Rotation is by a 12-volt motor, adaptable to a car
Figure 39. HELIX WHEEL
Avista geologist using a gold wheel in near-freezing conditions. battery. The speed is critical and can be controlled
(photo: Avista Ltd of Bishkek) between 15 to 22 rpm. The best gold wheels are of
The helix wheel (gold wheel), commonly called a moulded polypropylene plastic for lightness and
spiral panning machine, is a flattened Archimedes screw smoothness. The 7-spiral Little CamelTM has a wheel 16.5
with the helix no longer turning inside a cylinder but inches across. To enhance gold recovery:
spiralling smaller and smaller to a central discharge hole.
² pre-screen the concentrate to <0.6 mm;
² for fine gold, pre-screen to 0.15 to 0.30 mm;
The gold wheel was invented by Henry Earle of
² if it clogs with black sand, add a teaspoon of normal sand;
Denver and patented in 1911 (US #987,866). ² material must be limited to keep it fluidised; and
Some gold wheels are designed to recover fine gold, ² to cut surface tension, add a little Cascade or Jet-Dry anti-
whereas others focus on maximising throughput. spotting agent (not detergent).
By arranging two to six gold wheels, Johnny Hilmer
Kleven of California invented a method of increasing the Adoption by placer gold miners
washing capacity to 1.5-2.0 tons/hour, patented in 1977 and Gold wheels are popular worldwide with recreational
1978 (US #4,008,152 and US #4,110,206), and he later miners, artisanal miners, prospectors and companies for
invented a single multi-step wheel that accomplishes the same upgrading concentrate. Many makers exist in the USA and
(US #4,267,036). in South America, Africa, China and Russian Federation.
Industrial-scale gold wheels appeared in the 1980s Yet the gold wheel’s popularity is uneven and the reason
led by PMX Industries [61], and Keith B. Cleland was unclear.
awarded patents in 1983 and 1984 for solving how to The modern small portable gold wheel was invented
build large wheels with 60-100 helical riffles converging on by Angus Nicholls in the USA and his Little CamelTM gold
a single central port (US #4,389,308 and US #4,406,783). wheel is still made by Camel Mining Inc (www.desfox.com).
Production of large gold wheels ceased after a decade.

Figure 40. GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD WHEELS – generalised


Recovery of placer gold by helix wheels (gold wheels) [61] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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52: Brosseuk’s helix cylinder – 1980s research in British Columbia


Operation
Feed is introduced as slurry via a slurry pipe inserted
at the front end of the helix cylinder. The pipe discharges
about midway along the cylinder, the slurry landing on the
helical riffles. Heavies are caught in the grooves between
the riffles and being inside an Archimedes screw are
carried up the length of the helix by the rotation of the
riffles to the lip of the cylinder where they disgorge as a
continuous discharge of concentrate.
Figure 111. THE GOLD MACHINE
One of the smaller portable helix cylinders invented by Raymond In contrast, the lighter particles and wash water
Brosseuk, ideal for prospecting and evaluating deposits. (photo: override the riffles to continue along the floor of the
courtesy of www.extrac-tec.com) cylinder to emerge as a continuous discharge of tailings.
Brosseuk’s helix cylinder was invented by Raymond
Brosseuk of British Columbia, patented in 1992 (US
Adoption by placer gold miners
#5,108,584) and marketed as ‘The Gold Machine’ and has Tests of helix cylinders in the 1980s in North
been the most successful helix cylinder for use in large- American placer mines [61] later led to some uptake
scale placer gold mining. worldwide. Today several types of large helix cylinders are
Externally a helix cylinder resembles a scrubber made in North America for placer gold recovery, notably:
(blind trommel). Both are long cylindrical drums tilted to ² The Gold Machine (Brosseuk’s helix cylinder),
cause slurry fed in at the raised end to discharge at the precursor of the HPC helix belt – www.extrac-tec.com
² Gold ClaimerTM Rotary Riffle – production unclear
lower end. But the interior of a helix cylinder is lined by
² Golden Boy Rotary Separator – www.goldenboyinc.com
transverse riffles that are helical, each spiralling round and
round along the length of the cylinder to produce an Miniature helix cylinders gained and retain a niche in
Archimedes screw [159]. the recreational mining market as small-scale placer gold
Brosseuk’s helix cylinder followed earlier innovations recovery units:
² Dixie Doodlebug – famous machine, production ceased
during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the PMX helix and ² Mountain Goat – www.desfox.com [160]
the TRI-R helix, but little has been published apart from ² Gold Screw – www.goldscrew.com
the review by Michael Silva [61]. Good examples include
the truck-mounted helix cylinder patented by Loyd Harris
of Oregon in 1979 (US #4,178,238) and a helix cylinder
patented by Richard and Isabelle Tice of Washington State
in 1982 (US #4,339,043).
A helix cylinder can vary from a small cylinder (1ft
diameter and 5ft long) for upgrading of concentrates to a
large cylinder (8ft diameter and 40ft long) as a rougher.

Figure 112. GOLD RECOVERY BY BROESSEUK’s HELIX CYLINDER


Recovery of placer gold by Brosseuk’s helix cylinder, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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75: Helix belt – 2000s research in Canada and USA


Operation
Pay gravel is dumped in a hopper that feeds a
scrubbing/screening trommel that is an integral part of the
Extrac-TEC HPC wash-plant. Screening is at 6mm, 13mm
or 25mm. The washed undersize is fed as slurry to the
helix belt. The helix belt rotates as a reverse helix that
functions as an Archimedes screw. The helix belt is tilted
at a gentle angle sufficient to ensure water and lights fed
onto it are washed down-slope. Water and lights travel
down the central valley of the helix belt by spilling over
each rib (riffle) sequentially. Arriving at the bottom end of
the helix belt, the lights discharge as tailings.
Figure 153. HPC HELIX BELT The belt’s motion and water flow cause heavies to
Material ascending the helix belt of the HPC-10 wash-plant. settle on the helix belt. Any heavies escaping over a rib
(photo: courtesy of Extrac-TEC www.extrac-tec.com)
are trapped and re-processed by the next rib. Once settled
The Extrac-TEC HPC helix belt is called by the makers on the helix belt, heavies are inexorably hauled up the
a “transverse spiral concentration belt”. The device is a slope by tangential motion of the ribs (riffles).
highly innovative form of Archimedes screw, unique to the Arriving at the top end of the helix belt, the heavies
Extrac-TEC HPC systems. The helix belt, helix cylinder and continuously discharge into the concentrate sluice.
helix wheel (gold wheel) are three different classes of The bed-profile, inclination, characteristics of the
Archimedes screw used for heavy mineral separation. reverse helix, water flow and belt speed are configured to
The helix belt has ribs that serve as riffles arranged produce the solids density desired (0.1 to 40% by weight).
in a helix. The profile of the helix belt is sagged into a The helix belt ensures concentrate fed to the sluice is
bow-shaped gutter-like trough that is gently tilting to drain properly pre-concentrated, and prevents surging and so
the tailings down the trough, whereas the settled heavies flow is steady down the sluice and optimized for gold
are hauled up the trough by the moving riffles. recovery. This reduces water consumption, and the
Development began in 1986, the first prototype was manufacturer claims that gold recovery is increased “down
completed in 1988, and the first patent was granted in to 40 microns”. A high concentration ratio is achieved and
1993 according to the company website. “…independent so the final concentrate is reasonably clean.
analyses showed recovery efficiency close to 95%”.
From 1999-2002 the company focused on using the Adoption by placer gold miners
HPC technology for its own placer operations in Canada
The Extrac-TEC HPC wash-plant with its helix belt has
such as in Anderson Creek in the Yukon.
become widely available over the last few years, and
According to the company (www.extrac-tec.com)
some are operational in most continents, and early
fresh patents were filed in 2003 for the more advanced
versions were sold in Canada, China, Mexico and USA.
‘Generation-2’ version using the helix belt.

Figure 154. GOLD RECOVERY BY THE EXTRAC-TEC HPC HELIX BELT – generalised
Recovery of placer gold by the Extrac-TEC HPC helix belt, according to information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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18: Wilfley shaking table – 1890s research in Colorado


Operation
The points of the compass are used for clarity in
describing the operation of the Wilfley shaking table.
The feed is screened to <3mm and fed into a small
hopper above the north-east corner of the shaking table,
where it is mixed with clean water. The resulting slurry is
introduced to the north-east corner of the shaking table
and begins to spread southwards as a thin film.
The feed fan outs towards the edge of the table,
allowing the operator to see exactly what is happening,
and to decide where to subdivide the fan into distinct
Figure 41. WILFLEY SHAKING TABLE
A Wilfley shaking table made in Australia. (photo: courtesy of the streams each dominated by a particular mineral.
manufacturer, Motive Traction Pty Ltd - www.motive-traction.com.au) The shaking motion has a slow westward stroke and
The Wilfley shaking table was invented by Arthur R. rapid return eastward stroke – often with a bump. This
Wilfley of Denver, Colorado and patented in 1897 (US induces settled particles to crawl in a juddering manner
#590,675). The device proved enormously popular being westward along the table with the thin film of slurry.
able to consistently recover fine particles of dense The shaking is usually very rapid with a frequency of
minerals and with a high concentration ratio. 4 to 5.5 strokes per second. The shaking displacement is
Many thousands of Wilfley tables were made and are usually half to one inch to-and-fro.
still manufactured. Dozens of variations emerged, such as A set of low riffles aligned east-west guide the
the Deister table [61] patented by William F. Deister and heavies ever westward to fall off the south-west corner of
Emil Deister of Indiana (US #1,642,843). Today shaking the table into a hopper as a continuous discharge.
tables are made in the USA, UK, Australia, Russia, China, Meanwhile, a spray bar introduces clean ‘wash water’
Thailand and elsewhere. along the north edge of the table, sending a thin film of
Shaking tables are thin-film devices whereby heavy clean water southward to encounter the riffles and the
particles are induced to settle from a flowing film of slurry westward flowing slurry. The wash water mixes with the
while light particles are washed away as tailings. The thin- slurry and overrides the riffles taking the lighter particles
film needs a large surface area and therefore some sort of with it to spill over the southern edge as a continuous
table shape is essential, ranging from small laboratory discharge of tailings.
tables to production tables 7x15ft in size.
Adoption by placer gold miners
A shaking table can recover >90% of gold from 3mm
down to about 70μ, and still able to recover >70% of 50μ Wilfley shaking tables remain popular amongst placer
gold, and useful amounts of 30μ gold. gold miners in many regions of the world. A key factor is
Disadvantages include: low capacity, bulky size, high that miners like to see the gold separating.
water usage, and need for having a stable.

Figure 42. GOLD RECOVERY BY WILFLEY SHAKING TABLE – generalised


Recovery of placer gold by Wilfley shaking table, based on comments of the British Geological Survey [24]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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19: Shaking tables – 1960s-1970s research in China


Operation
Typically the concentrate is screened at 3mm, and
fed to the shaking table as either slurry or spooned into a
small hopper on the corner of the shaking table where
water is added to produce the desired slurry.
Shaking tables operate as a thin-film separator, and a
vast range of shaking tables existed by the 1970s. Decks
are of wood or fibreglass; deck coverings include linoleum,
plastic, rubber or fibreglass; riffles vary in height, width,
spacing and orientation; shaking varies in amplitude,
frequency, length, forward velocity and return velocity,
and may by to-and-fro or orbital.
Even for a particular shaking table there are many
critical variables, such as the gold particles’ size, flatness,
Figure 43. CHINESE SHAKING TABLES surface texture and purity; presence of other minerals
Chinese-built shaking tables of traditional design recovering gold (light or heavy) attached to the gold; nature of other
from slurry fed from a ball mill at a Chinese-owned hardrock gold
mine in Bayanhogor Aimag in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson) particles present; dilution of the feed; the fineness of the
feed; and the problem of any traces of oil or grease.
For over a century shaking tables have remained
popular in China as elsewhere for clean-up of concentrate Adoption by placer gold miners
from placer gold wash-plants and milled hardrock ore.
Shaking tables are popular amongst placer gold
In the 1970s, placer scientists of the Minerals
miners in many regions of the world. A key factor for
Processing Laboratory of the Kunming Institute of
many miners is that they see the gold separating. They
Metallurgy in Yunnan Province determined the percentage
can be seen in action in Alaska, Yukon, Alberta, British
gold recovery of conventional shaking tables [27]. It is
Columbia, California, Central America, South America,
unclear what type of shaking tables were tested or the
Africa, Australia, New Zealand, S.E. Asia, China, Mongolia
size of the feed, but the results showed gold recovery
and the Russian Federation. Manufacturers of shaking
starts to falter at 0.5mm and is only 90% by 0.2mm, and
tables are numerous and widely spread, for instance:
collapsed to 75% at 0.1mm. ² United Kingdom – Holman-Wilfley Ltd of England
These results are disappointing, and a modern www.holmanwilfley.co.uk
shaking table if operated carefully performs significantly ² Australia – Motive Traction Pty Ltd Inc of New South Wales
www.motive-traction.com.au
better. However in the 1970s the observed performance ² USA – Outokumptechnology Inc of Florida
of shaking tables in the China tests would have been www.outokumptechnology.com
considered acceptable, bearing in mind the chronic ² Thailand – Dove Engineering
www.dovemining.com
performance of simple jigs and sluices at that time. ² China – China National Gold Corporation (CNGC)
www.chinagold.org.placer.html

Figure 44. GOLD RECOVERY BY TRADITIONAL SHAKING TABLES – China tests


Recovery of placer gold by traditional shaking table of uncertain type, results of tests in China [27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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20: Shaking tables – 1960s research in the Soviet Union


Operation
Government-funded placer scientists in the Soviet
Union undertook intensive tests during the 1960s and
1970s on the ability of shaking tables to recover gold [62].
In one test, the Soviet scientists appraised a
conventional Soviet-made shaking table, probably
modelled closely on Wilfley or Deister tables, with four
sizes of placer gold described as “laminar, lumpy” [62]. It
is not quite clear what the English translation should be.
The performance was less good than expected for placer
gold by western users of shaking tables, with >90%
recovery only possible for 150μ gold and larger. Recovery
fell to only 80% for 90μ gold and under 60% for 50μ gold.
In a second test, the Soviet scientists tested a
Figure 45. SOVIET SHAKING TABLE conventional Soviet-made shaking table, with five sizes of
Shaking table of traditional Soviet design at the Sharin Gol Mine placer gold described as “porous, acicular” [62]. Again it is
of Polymet Potala Ltd in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson)
not entirely clear what the correct English translation
In spite of the popularity of the Wilfley shaking table
should be. The performance was poor, with >90%
and its derivatives, little has been published their ability to
recovery only possible for 300μ gold and larger. Recovery
recover gold of different size or flatness. Many reports
fell to only 80% for 150μ gold, 55% for 100μ gold and
affirm shaking tables are “effective” or “successful” in
under 35% for 50μ gold.
recovering gold of this or that size or shape, yet rarely
It is unclear what the parameters of the Soviet tests
mention the amount of gold lost.
were, rendering it impossible to interpret the results. For
Studies on the ability of shaking tables to recover tin
instance the feed is assumed to have been screened at
(cassiterite SnO2) led people to assume a shaking table
3mm as is standard practice, but if screened at say 5mm
would perform better with gold; gold being so dense. This
then performance would have been compromised.
assumption is dubious, for gold, especially placer gold, is
The results cast doubt on the ability of shaking tables
often leached and porous so its density is reduced; gold is
to perform well at recovering fine placer gold in industrial-
markedly hydrophobic making it prone to float on a
scale operations, and demonstrate the adverse effect on
shaking table; and gold is often so flat its settling velocity
recovery if the gold particles are porous or flat.
is less than expected. Conversely, cassiterite is typically
not leached, not porous, not hydrophobic and not flat. Adoption by placer gold miners
Only in the Soviet Union and China does it seem
Shaking tables are popular amongst placer gold
proper scientific tests were conducted on the ability of
miners in many regions of the world. A key factor for
traditional shaking tables to recover gold, and later by the
many miners is that they see the gold separating.
British Geological Survey [24].

Figure 46. GOLD RECOVERY BY TRADITIONAL SHAKING TABLES – Soviet Union tests
Recovery of placer gold by Soviet shaking tables in the Soviet Union. (compiler: Robin Grayson, after Zamyatin and Konyukova [62])

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63: BGS shaking table – 1990s research in United Kingdom


Operation
The BGS shaking table is compact and light enough
to be carried over the shoulder by a strong individual.
The table is manually driven, using bicycle gears and
chains plus rubber bands made from car tyre inner tubes.
The drive is hand cranked – one turn of the handle
translates into five bumps to the table via an eccentric
Figure 131. BGS SHAKING TABLE
cam. Hand cranking at a comfortable one turn per second
Top view of the Mongolian home-made version of the hand-
cranked BGS shaking table. (photo: Robin Grayson) translates into five bumps per second – enough to operate
the shaking table. Rebound from the bump is by means of
The BGS shaking table was developed by the British
a rubber band. If desired the crank can be modified to be
Geological Survey (BGS) as part of the DFID/BGS
powered by a bicycle, motor cycle or a motor, either
Technology Development Research (TDR) project R6226
electric or diesel.
‘Mitigation of mining-related mercury pollution hazards’.
BGS trials at Kias Creek in the Philippines were
[24]. The task was to design, construct and test a cheap,
successful; the table was easily set up and adjusted to a
simple shaking table that could be produced for use by
stable configuration and heavy mineral concentrates were
small-scale miners in developing countries. The BGS
readily recovered. A hand lens showed much fine-grained
shaking table is being evaluated by recreational gold
gold had been recovered. Laboratory examination
miners in North America and by the Support for Artisanal
revealed most of the gold was only around 40µ in size and
Mining (SAM) project in Mongolia (www.sam.mn).
grains as small as 10µ had been recovered.
BGS laboratory trials showed the BGS shaking table is
Trials at Acupan in the Philippines were problematical
as good as – and probably slightly more effective than –
and it was far more difficult to set up the table in a stable
the commercial Wilfley shaking table for in recovering
configuration. Laboratory examination of the concentrates
fine-grained gold. However the BGS laboratory trials were
showed that significant amounts of gold had been
carried out in almost perfect conditions:
² the samples were washed and deslimed prior to tests; recovered from ores and tailings and substantial amounts
² the table was set up on large flat benches; and were very fine-grained, around 30µ in size.
² a well controlled, even pressure water supply was available.
Adoption by placer gold miners
Field trials show the BGS shaking table to be an
effective device. Its use is more difficult in adverse For recreational gold miners the BGS shaking table
conditions where material to be processed is muddy, offers a simple rapid means of upgrading concentrates in
stability is a problem and water pressure is variable. the field rather than “bringing them home” as well as
Under optimum conditions, it seems that the BGS removing any temptation to resort to mercury.
shaking table can be expected to routinely recover almost For artisanal gold miners the BGS shaking table is
all moderately fine gold (100µ to 1mm) and probably small, lightweight, transportable, affordable and offers a
>90% of very fine gold down to 50µ. possible alternative to mercury for upgrading concentrates.

Figure 132. GOLD RECOVERY BY BGS SHAKING TABLE – based on UK tests


Recovery of placer gold by the hand-cranked BGS shaking table, tested under laboratory conditions [24]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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53: GemeniTM table – 1980s research in Colorado


Operation
Feed properties are critical to the success of a
GemeniTM table. The feed size must be <1mm, and ideally
the feed should have been passed through a magnetic
separator remove any tramp metal. The feed density
requires constant checking with a pulp meter, and a
flowmeter is required to maintain the correct rate of flow.
The water should be filtered to remove suspended solids
and organic material.
Water usage is substantial and has to be at constant
pressure, best achieved by positioning a small header tank
three metres above the table deck. The room height has
to be correspondingly high.
The GemeniTM table is made of fibreglass supported
on a steel frame. It is designed to be used inside a
building with a solid floor to which the unit is then
securely bolted. It is important to be securely fastened to
the floor, as all the drive motion must be transferred to
Figure 113. GEMENITM TABLE the table deck to achieve good performance. In modern
TM
A Gemeni table showing streaks of black sand and yellow models, a direct drive system has a geared motor driving
streaks of gold. (photos: courtesy of MD Technologies Ltd – a crank connected to the table deck. To absorb overrun,
www.gravityrecovery.com)
the crank has a sprung connection system, and a bump
The GemeniTM table was invented by Henry W.
stop system provides a fine tuning mechanism. Table
Rodgers of Colorado and patented in 1986 (US
tuning is by adjusting a single screw.
#4,758,334). The device is an innovative shaking table
designed to recover fine gold to directly produce a clean Adoption by placer gold miners
smeltable concentrate to produce dore bars. Often the
The GemeniTM table is now seen in most placer gold
cleaned concentrate is good enough to do so.
mining regions of the world. It appears to be significant
The GemeniTM table is claimed by the maker [161],
better than other shaking tables, but is also significantly
and confirmed by users and researchers [3,61,162], to be
more expensive. Locally-made copy-cats are made in
capable of producing a very clean gold concentrate from
some parts of South America and perhaps elsewhere.
gold-bearing black-sand concentrates when fed <1mm
The switch to the GemeniTM table has been slow and
material. Recovery is excellent down to about 40-50μ
incomplete, perhaps due to the higher capital cost, the
[161].
conservatism of most placer companies and slightly more
demanding housing and skill.

Figure 114. GOLD RECOVERY BY GEMENITM TABLE


Recovery of placer gold by GemeniTM table, according to the original patent and testing [161,162]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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65: U-TechTM reverse polarity table – 1990s research in Arizona


Operation
The feed is concentrate screened at <¾-inch. Water
is added to the RP-4 table at a rate of 8-14 gallons/minute
via a water distribution bar. The unit includes a pre-
treatment feed sluice tray described as a “sluice box
moulded into deck”. The slurry spreads across the table –
a very smooth 1-piece riffled deck and launder tray
moulded from ABS plastic (truck bed liner material).
The U-TechTM RP-4 is driven by a HP motor,
115/220v, AC 60 Hz, 8.6 Amp to produce a smoother
Figure 135. REVERSE POLARITY TABLE reciprocating motion than possible with a conventional
Side view of the drive mechanism, U-Tech RP-4 shaking table,
Central Mineral Laboratory in Ulaanbaatar. (photo: Davasambuu shaking table, by using spring steel plates instead of linear
of the Swiss-funded Support for Artisanal Mining project) sliding bearings.
The U-TechTM reverse polarity (RP) table was A special feature is spinning rare earth magnets
invented by Darvin Wade of North Virginia and patented in positioned underneath the deck surface. By reversing the
2001 (US #6,308,835). The RP table has a reverse magnetic polarity of magnetite at about 800 cycles/minute
polarity spinning magnet system under the table top that (elliptical polarization of the magnetite) magnetite rises to
aids separation of black sands. The RP table is built by U- the surface and is then more easily washed into the tails
Tech Co. in Arizona, USA - www.goldequipment.com/gold- by the transverse flow of water. This is aided by the
mining-equipment-concentrating-table-RP-4.html magnetite particles delivering additional magnetism by
The U-TechTM RP-4 table has a 12x48inch cleaning aligning their magnetic poles to produce long chains.
deck, weighs 60lb and fits in a large car boot. U-Tech The tailings leaving the table pass a ‘tails nugget
claims the RP-4 table “saves down to 1 micron (Lab Test)” trap’ before exiting as a continuous discharge.
www.goldequipment.com/gold-mining-equipment-warranty.html An optional deck screen added to the U-TechTM RP-4
Larger units such as the RP-16 table can process >8 table operates as a combined shaker screen, magnetite
tons/hour (4 tons of black sands) of sand-sized feed. The separator and gold gravity concentrator.
RP-16-D gravity concentrating table weighs about 2,200
Adoption by placer gold miners
lbs and requires 60-80 gallons of water/minute.
According to U-Tech, “we have users claiming the U- Reverse polarity RP tables gained some popularity in
TECH heavy mineral concentrators are saving down to one North America, but in spite of the claimed advantages of
micron” and, “will recover 99% of microscopic gold from your the U-TechTM RP table they have not yet begun to
magnetite concentrates and is designed to run continuously", seriously challenge the entrenched position of the
also “we have users claiming the U-TECH heavy mineral traditional shaking tables or the advanced types of
concentrators are saving down to -500 particle size", and shaking table such as the GemeniTM table.
“demonstrated to move one micron size dry particles”.

Figure 136. GOLD RECOVERY BY U-TECHTM REVERSE POLARITY TABLE


Recovery of placer gold by U-Tech reverse polarity table, according to the original patent and maker’s website. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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64: GoltronTM machine – 1990s research in Utah


Operation
Gold-bearing black-sand concentrates as coarse as 3-
5mm is fed into the variable feed-rate hopper of the
GoltonTM unit. The feed rate is 150lbs/hour of solids and
300-600 gallons/hour of water. Feed properties are less
critical than for conventional tables, or advanced tables
such as the GemeniTM table. The GoltonTM variable feed-
rate hopper contains an auger that dispenses steady
amounts of feed onto a coarse wet vibrating screen with
1.19mm apertures.
Oversize (>1.19mm) is routed to a carpeted nugget
trap. Undersize is re-screened on a fine wet vibrating
screen of 35-mesh (0.42mm). The GoltonTM table is
unique in having a coarse side and a fines side. Oversize
re-screened material (>0.42mm) is directed to the ‘coarse
side’ of the GoltonTM table, while the undersize re-screened
material (<0.42mm) is directed to the fines side of the
GoltonTM table.
Gold is recovered in three locations:
² >1.19mm gold in the nugget trap;
Figure 133. GOLTRONTM MACHINE
² 0.42-1.19mm gold on the ‘coarse side’ of the GoltonTM table;
View of a Goltron ready for action. (photo: courtesy of Goldfield ² <1.19mm gold on the ‘fine side’ of the GoltonTM table.
International – www.goldfieldeng.com) The GoltonTM unit has a power requirement of
The GoltronTM unit is a recent innovation by Goldfield 110/220 volts, single phase at 50/60 hertz, to vibrate the
International of Utah (www.goldfieldeng.com) designed to table and/or screens.
recover not only fine gold but a full range of gold sizes The manufacturer claims that recovery efficiencies
including nuggets to directly produce a clean smeltable are excellent, and that the unit is capable of achieving
concentrate. It seems to be the only shaking table set-up “gold recovery down to minus 400-mesh” (37μ). However
capable of catching everything from nuggets to fine gold. test results have yet to be published.
The manufacturers claim it is “fastest, most efficient
system that does not rely on chemicals or amalgamation” Adoption by placer gold miners
to separate fine gold. In seems possible that upgraded The GoltronTM Unit is new and is gaining some
concentrate from a GoltronTM table may be pure enough acceptance by placer gold miners at least in North
for direct smelting to produce dore bars, but little America.
information has been published.

Figure 134. GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLTRONTM MACHINE - generalised


Recovery of placer gold by the Goltron machine, based on information issued by the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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29: Bartles-Mozley multi-deck tables – 1970s research in Cornwall


Operation
This account is based on Silva’s description of the
Bartles-Mozley multi-deck concentrator [61].
The feed consist of slurry of 15-35% solids that have
been finely screened, ideally 100μ. The slurry is fine
enough to be termed slime.
The 40-deck unit is able to process about 20
tons/hour of solids. The feed pipe tops up a feed box from
where a flexible pipe conveys feed to each deck, the feed
being spread across the width of the deck by means of a
manifold with twelve discharge holes.
The slurry flows down the deck sloping 1.3° to 2.5°,
and encounters transverse riffles “10 to 100 thousandths
of an inch high, spaced apart by 1 to 3 inches” [patent].
Figure 63. BARTLES-MOZLEY MULTI-DECK TABLES The deck and its riffles undergo an orbital horizontal
Layout simplified from the patent. (drawing: Robin Grayson). motion imparted by an out-of-balance electric motor. The
The Bartles-Mozley multi-deck concentrator consists of orbital horizontal motion has a large amplitude of 5 to 18
40 fibreglass decks (tables) each 3.6ft x 5ft arranged in cm at a frequency of 0.8 to 3 Hz. The orbital horizontal
two sections of 20 decks each, suspended by cables. Each motion energises the light particles to inhibit them settling
deck is riffled and connected by ½-inch plastic formers and they remain suspended in the flowing film of water
that define the pulp channel. Good recovery is from 100μ that overrides the riffles to discharge as tailings.
to 5μ, “and in some cases as small as 1 micron” [61]. Meanwhile high density particles settle on the table
The device soon became “probably the most widely and remain restrained by the riffles.
used slimes table today” [61] due to its high throughput, After running for about 35 minutes, feed is stopped
small footprint, low labour requirement, low power and the decks tilted slightly to drain, then tilted steeply to
consumption, and low water consumption. [75,76]. After allow the concentrates to be flushed into a collection
more than a decade its popularity collapsed due to sump. The tables are then returned to the original
competition from new centrifuges (e.g. KnelsonTM bowl orientation and processing recommences.
and FalconTM C bowl) and better chemical leaching.
Several types of multi-deck concentrators existed. Adoption by placer gold miners
Richard H. Mozley of Cornwall patented a variant in the UK The Bartles-Mozley separator was intended primarily
and then in 1981 the United States (US #4,251,358), and for hardrock mills and tin recovery, and sold worldwide.
assigned to the National Research Development The author is unaware of it having ever being applied to
Corporation. A modern variant was patented by Paul recovery of very fine gold, although it has potential.
Marriot of Cornwall in 1989 (US #5,148,922) but allowed
to lapse in 1996.

Figure 64. GOLD RECOVERY BY BARTLES-MOZLEY ORBITAL TABLES – generalised


Gold recovery by Bartles-Mozley orbital tables, according to Michael Silva [61]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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21: Pinched sluice – historical usage


Operation
Feed is screened at 100μ to 1mm and should have
no more than 5% clays [25]. Slurry is fed by gravity from
a trommel or screen via a chute into the head of the
pinched sluice or arrives by pipe fed by a slurry pump.
The floor and walls of the pinched sluice must be free
of obstructions to achieve laminar flow. Laminar flow
permits gravitational settling and stratification of slurry.
In compelling the slurry to converge to a ‘pinch-
point’, wear on the floor and walls may be severe, and a
replaceable liner such as smooth rubber or wear-resistant
material is advisable. A pinched sluice should incorporate:
² a means to adjust the inclination of the sluice; and
² a means to adjust the angle and position of ‘splitters’.
Pinched sluices cannot exceed about 70% recovery
Figure 47. PINCHED SLUICE of heavy minerals, as this is the limit of the pinching
General outline of a pinched sluice. (drawing: Robin Grayson,
after Michael Priester, Projekt-consult – www.projekt-consult.de) mechanism [25]. The author suggests it is possible that
gold particles may continue to be crowded and upgraded
Pinched sluices (fanned sluices) have been used for
– experiments are required.
centuries [25]. A pinched sluice is a small sluice that
A pinched sluice appears, in the opinion of the
tapers towards the discharge end. Slurry rushing down the
author, to have two potential applications that are quite
sluice gets crowded, the slurry is forced to deepen, and
different and should not be confused:
the crowded denser particles gravitate towards the bottom ² traditional application – producing an underflow,
forcing the lighter particles to rise above them. As a result middlings flow and a tailings flow; and
the slurry discharge is stratified – a very dense ‘underflow’ ² additional application – controlling surges in the feed rate.
of valuable concentrate, a medium density middle flow Some pinched sluices have permanent magnets
(‘middlings’) and a low density upper flow (‘tails’). The installed beneath them to encourage magnetite and other
discharge is divided by splitters into separate streams – magnetic particles to join the underflow. This could assist
concentrate flow, middlings flow and tailings flow. in creating a traction carpet of dense particles at the base
A pinched sluice is a low cost way to produce of the slurry, and in theory this would assist in the
concentrate, yet the middlings need to be recirculated. ejection of low density particles and the burrowing down
Most pinched sluices are used to recover mineral sands of tiny gold particles. More research is warranted.
[63-66] and are a neglected device in gold recovery.
A sister device to a pinched sluice is the Wright Adoption by placer gold miners
impact plate invented by Douglas Charles Wright of New
Pinched sluices are rarely seen in placer gold mines
South Wales and patented in 1978 (US #4,078,997).
in spite of their obvious potential.

Figure 48. GOLD RECOVERY BY PINCHED SLUICES – generalised


Recovery of placer gold by pinched sluices; generalised information compiled from fragmentary sources. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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22: Reichert cone – 1960s research in Australia


Operation
Feed is pre-screened as cones are unable to
concentrate particles >0.5mm, and recovery falls if clay is
>5% of the feed. The cone is sensitive to changes in
slurry feed density (55-70% solids)
Slurry feed is poured into the cone evenly around its
circumference, and flows to the central hole. The slurry
becomes progressively crowded, due to all the particles
converging upon the central hole. The increased packing of
suspended particles increases the overall density of the
lower slurry. Suppose the slurry fluid attains 2g/cm3, then:
² quartz – terminal Settling Velocity cut from 0.9 to 0.4cm/sec;
² magnetite – terminal Settling Velocity cut from 2.3 to 2.7cm/sec;
² gold – terminal Settling Velocity cut from 7.6-9.8 to 7.1-9.3cm/sec.
By repeated crowding, the free settling regime
becomes a hindered settling regime, cutting the terminal
Settling Velocity of all particles even more, and the lighter
Figure 49. REICHERT CONES particles such as quartz become increasingly vulnerable to
Example of Reichert cones. (photo: courtesy of Dale Henderson
of the manufacturer Roche Mining – www.rochemt.com.au) ejection from the ever-denser slurry.
Gold concentrate is removed by annular slots in the
The Reichert cone was invented by Ernst Reichert of
cone. Consistent recovery of gold particles >45μ have
Queensland who applied for an Australian patent in 1966
been reported [67]. At the Snake River in Idaho, USA,
and was awarded a US patent in 1968 (US #3,379,310).
gold was recovered using a Reichert cone in conjunction
The device packs pinched sluices in a circle, then
with a conventional shaking table. Gold recovery >85%
dispenses with their side walls to create a single cone with
was noted by Thomas Ferree [68], with 44% of recovered
a central discharge hole. The flow is free of edge-effects
gold being <75μ.
without side walls.
The cone is of lightweight structural glass reinforced Adoption by placer gold miners
plastic (GRP), laminated with polyurethane. The cones are
stacked in series to repeat the benefit of crowding. Reichert cones have not gained much foothold in
Multiple stages of upgrading are achieved. Stacks of cones placer gold miners. They have been used in Queensland
are mounted in circular frames over 6 metres tall. The by a 20m3/hour plant to recover fine gold from tailings. In
3.5-metre cone processes up to 350 tons/hour. Water Snake River Idaho, a sand and gravel company recovered
consumption is less than for sluices or jigs [61]. The unit has gold with Reichert cones while selling gravel.
no moving parts and very low operating costs, but needs
screens, cyclones and slurry pumps.

Figure 50. GOLD RECOVERY BY REICHERT CONES


Recovery of placer gold by Reichert cones, according to Erik Spiller and Thomas Feree [67,68]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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23: Humphrey spirals – 1940s research in Colorado


Operation
Feed is slurry of 25-35% solids, with the solids
screened to 3mm or preferably to 1-2mm. As well as the
feed being finely screened, care is required to ensure that
the feed rate and feed consistency is maintained as
constant as possible to ensure satisfactory results
The slurry descends the chute of the Humphrey
spiral, the chute twisted into typically six windings (turns).
The heaviest particles fall to the bottom of the channel
where their velocity is retarded by friction. Upon slowing,
the heavy particles are less affected by centrifugal forces
generated by the spiral flow of slurry than are the lighter
Figure 51. HUMPHREY SPIRALS faster particles that are less retarded by friction. As a
Humphrey spiral illustrated on the front page of the classic ‘Tools consequence the heavy particles spiral along the inside
for Mining Book’ by Michael Priester and colleagues [25] walls of the channel, while the faster lighter particles spiral
Modern spirals began with Frank Pardee of further out towards the outer rim of the channel.
Pennsylvania who was awarded patents in 1899, 1924 and The heavier particles are recovered as concentrate
1939 (US #629,590, US # 1,516,926 and US #2,145,315). from discharge outlets on the inside of the channel.
The Humphrey spiral was invented by Ira B. Separation precision can be improved by adding additional
Humphrey of Denver USA who applied for US patents in water during the sorting process.
1943 and was awarded patents in 1947 (US #2,431,559 Key variables are the cross section of the channel, the
and US #2,431,560) and 1955 (US #2,700,469). diameter of the spiral, the number of windings
Advantages include low cost, long life, small (revolutions), slope of the channel and the positioning and
footprint, good recovery of fine gold and ease of visually number of discharge outlets and supplementary-water
checking to see if material is separating properly. intakes.
The basic Humphrey spiral is 3 metres tall with 5-6
windings of the channel and is capable of processing 0.8- Adoption by placer gold miners
12 tons/day of concentrate depending on the design of Humphrey spirals enjoyed great popularity for coal
the channel and the particle size. Early production models cleaning and mineral sand recovery, but were very rarely
were of cast iron sections and required numerous pipes used in placer gold recovery. Early models were difficult
for supplementary-water intake and discharge outlets for placer miners due to the weight and the need not only
making it a rather complicated, very heavy and difficult to close screening and a steady feed of slurry. The later
adjust; and rapid wear of the rubber lining and irregular model 7 Reichert spirals gained a stronger niche amongst
wash water distribution caused production problems [61]. placer mining companies for fine gold recovery.
Later Humphrey spirals were of lightweight material and
more compact being a double helix.

Figure 52. GOLD RECOVERY BY HUMPHREY SPIRALS


Recovery of placer gold by Humphrey spirals, according to diverse fragmentary sources. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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54: Mark-7 Reichert spirals – 1980s research in California, Arizona and Colorado
Operation
The feed is screened at <2mm and poured as slurry
in the spiral channel and helter-skelter down the spiral
with the denser particles settling as dense basal slurry or
traction carpet. The channel’s cross-section has a
continuously variable profile that takes its deep axis
outward during the descent, and the stream of dense
particles is constrained to follow the axis of the channel.
At the bottom of the ‘helter-skelter run’, the stream of
heavy concentrate is collected via a take-off port on the
final turn of the spiral.
As well as the concentrate stream, three other
streams are collected at the bottom of the spiral:
² concentrate stream – taken for further upgrading;
² middlings stream – recycled (acts as buffer, inhibiting gold
Figure 115. MARK-7 REICHERT SPIRALS
loss if slurry surges or fluctuates);
Mark 7 Reichert spirals installed on a mobile placer gold wash-
plant in the USA. (photo: courtesy of John Strain)
² tailings stream – discarded;
² water stream – low in solids, either discarded or recycled.
Reichert spirals were developed in Australia in the
Compared to the traditional Humphrey spirals, all the
1960s by using lightweight materials and reassessing the
concentrate off-take ports are eliminated from the spiral
hydrodynamics of the Humphrey spiral.
except on its final turn. This simplification dispenses with
Reichert spirals are made of lightweight fibreglass, a
a large amount of expensive tubing, and eliminates the
material that permitted many improvements and
need for the addition of any top-up wash water.
variations. Over 20 models exist, the spirals contoured to
separate particles of a particular range of densities. Adoption by placer gold miners
Mark-7 Reichert spirals have been produced since
1982 and its spirals are designed to recover cassiterite Mark-7 Reichert spirals proved to be successful in
particles with a density of 6 to 7g/cm3 and it then proved recovering moderately fine placer gold in California,
Arizona and Colorado USA, and proved effective at
effective at recovering fine gold in tests in North America
scavenging for fine gold from washed sand concentrates
[61,163-166]. The mark-7 model has no moving parts,
and can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for at sand pits [164-166]. But the take-up of spirals by placer
many years. Compared with earlier spirals, the mark-7 is gold miners has been low, being seen only as a valuable
easier to operate and requires less water. processing stage rather than a key component of a wash-
For tests, a spiral is mounted vertically on a support plant. An exception is gold placers that are fine well-
column. For production, identical spirals are mounted on washed sand of high energy coasts and large swift rivers.
the same column as a double or triple helix to increase the
capacity from ‘one-start’ to ‘two-start’ or ‘three-start’.

Figure 116. GOLD RECOVERY OF REICHERT SPIRALS – based largely on recovery of cassiterite
Recovery of placer gold by mark7 Reichert spirals, according to the cassiterite and placer gold tests [164-166]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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25: Duke’s E-sludge tank – 1970s research in Georgia


Operation
The inventor claims the pay gravel need not be
screened as blockage by large stones are easily removed.
Yet dry screening to reject >10-15cm oversize would
surely be advantageous; and the oversize could be fed
into a conventional small wash-plant parked alongside.
The inventor recommends a set of six units be
mounted in parallel on a flat-bed truck, collectively able to
process about 130m3/hour of loose pay gravel. Each unit
Figure 55. DUKE’s E-SLUDGE TANK has a rectangular hopper-shaped tank in which pay gravel
Duke’s E-Tank on a flat-bed truck. A manifold injects water to is dumped by a conveyor, front-end loader, etc. The
slurrify the base of the mound of dryish pay-gravel, creating
stiffish slurry that undergoes density stratification. The stratified material should be dry or moist and should not be wetted
slurry flows down the floor of the tank to the right, discharging in by spray-bars. Water is injected into the base of the tank
a ‘recovery box’ where dense basal slurry is trapped in slots. by means of a manifold of perforated water pipes, at a
(drawing: Robin Grayson, adapted from Duke’s patent)
pressure of 5-35psi but typically 5-10psi. Unlike a jig, E-
Duke’s E-tank was invented by Arthur Duke of
tower or sluice, the water requirement is very low – each
Georgia USA and patented in 1976 (US #3,951,787).
tank is about a metre wide but a tank requires a mere
Gold-separating devices classed as E-tanks include Duke’s
7.6m3/hour of water to process about 22m3/hour of loose
E-tank, Graefe’s E-tank and Pyramid’s E-tank.
pay gravel per hour. This is an order of magnitude less
Elutriated sludge tanks (E-tanks) is a term coined by
water than a Yukon-style sluice needs to process the same
the author [28] for devices that inject water from below
volume of pay gravel.
into a tank containing a bed of pay gravel that is quite
The pile of gravel in the tank cavitates from below
thick (say >10 cm) to create a fairly stiff slurry just watery
due to contact with injected water. The slurrified basal
enough to stimulate gravitational settling of dense
gravel is free to stratify (dense material at the bottom)
particles and rising of low-density particles. The settled
and creeps along the base of the tank tilted at about 12°.
heavy concentrate can be a continuous discharge from
The slowly discharging sluggish porridge-like slurry
near the base of the E-tank (e.g. Duke’s E-tank), or
travels down a chute tilted at 15-35° and the dense lower
remains in the tank as a lag deposit to await batch
material is trapped by slots. According to the inventor,
discharge (e.g. Graefe’s E-tank).
95% recovery is normal, and that recovered gold can be
Unlike an E-tower, the E-tank’s contents remain as
as small as 8μ! However no tests are published.
porridge-like slurry from top to bottom, and the slurry is
not watery enough for classic ‘hindered settling regime’. Adoption by placer gold miners
Instead the contents resemble a thixotropic quicksand.
Since the award patent in 1976, the author has been
Unlike a jig, an E-tank contains slurry throughout.
unable to trace any record of Duke’s E-tank being used by
There is no jig screen, no ragging, no hutch chamber and
placer gold miners, in spite of its potential.
slurry is not pulsed upwards (i.e. no jigging).

Figure 56. GOLD RECOVERY BY DUKE’s ELUTRIATED SLUDGE TANK


Recovery of placer gold by Duke’s E-tank, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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41: Graefe’s E-tank – 1980s research in California


Operation
The unit is wheeled by the operator. Pay gravel is
spaded into a hopper-screen above the tank. Screening
can be ½-¾ inch but finer screening aids gold recovery.
Water is injected via a manifold in the base of the tank at
1 to 8 psi – the larger the gravel the higher the pressure.
The finer the material then the less the throughput -
8 tons/hour for 0.3-5mm falling to 2 tons/hour for 35-
75μ. The Keene website says “…up to 4 cubic yards” of
material can be processed per hour, and “…can operate
on as little as 10 gallons of water per minute.” The
patent states 7-8 gallons/minute (1.6-1.8m3/hour) is
required to process coarse material, and only 1-2
gallons/minute (0.2-0.5m3/hour) to process fine material.
A little additional water is required from a hand-held spray
bar to inhibit hard-cake from forming.
Gold larger than 75μ sinks to the bottom of the tank
to await batch discharge. But <75μ gold is carried
Figure 90. GRAEFE’s E-TANK
Cut-away side view of Graefe’s E-tank showing the injection towards the spillway lip and so a skimmer plate is welded
water rising from below. (drawing: Robin Grayson) on to prevent it escaping.
Graefe’s E-tank was invented by Ralph Graefe of Batch discharge is rather cumbersome. The tank is
California and patented in 1985 (US #4,523,989). Rights progressively tilted more and more steeply to discharge
were transferred to Keene Engineering Inc who sold it as its upper contents as tailings. Then the residual
the ‘Keene Hydromatic Jig.’ This is a misnomer as it lacks concentrate flushed out with water by opening the bung
the key features of a jig. in the discharge pipe in the base of the tank.
Graefe’s E-tank is an elutriated sludge tank that not Adoption by placer gold miners
only has its contents slurrifed by injecting water from
below, but is vibrated at 180 cycles/second to prevent Graefe’s E-tank was marketed as the ‘Keene
‘hard-cake’ and to ensure that particles are distributed Hydromatic Jig’ to recreational miners but manufacture
throughout the depth of the slurry by density, not by size. ceased after a decade or so. Members of the Alaska Gold
According to test results in Ralph Graefe’s patent, Forum (AGF) are re-evaluating the device and it may yet
the device can recover 100% of gold as fine as 70μ, enjoy a revival at least amongst recreational miners. Graefe’s
falling slightly to a very impressive 93% of 30μ gold. The E-tank is a complete wash-plant, but small. Although ideal
test results show a 60° slope to the walls of the tank for recreational and artisanal miners it is difficult to
recover far more fine gold than a 45° slope. envisage how it might be scaled up for industrial mining.

Figure 91. GOLD RECOVERY BY GRAEFE’s ELUTRIATED SLUDGE TANK (Keene Hydromatic Jig)
Placer gold recovery by Graefe’s E-tank, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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59: Pyramid E-tank (Pyramid rotary jig®) – 1990s research in California


Operation
The tank is first filled with screened material – how
much screening is unclear. When the tank is full of
sediment, pressurised water injected from below – how
much pressure is unclear. As with other E-tanks, little
water is required. Water consumption varies with the gold
size to be recovered – 2mm gold requires 2,725
litres/hour for a throughput of 4 tons of solids, down to
very fine gold (<100μ) requiring 454 litres/hour for a
throughput of 0.9 tons, and for the finest gold 114
litres/hour for 0.5 tons of solids.
Once the pressurized water is added, the stirrer
blades are able to begin to rotate – how fast a rotation is
unclear. The blades are simple metal bars welded at
intervals along a central solid metal bar that acts as the
drive axle turned by a 110-volt A.C. electric motor
mounted above the tank. The device is innovative in
Figure 123. PYRAMID E-TANK slurrifying by rotary stirring. The gold and other heavy
(drawing: Robin Grayson based on advert by the manufacturer) particles spiral down, while the lights spiral upward. This
The Pyramid E-tank was invented in the early 1990s seems to be in thixotropic sludge-like slurry.
by Pyramid Industries of California and marketed as the After several minutes of operation, the barren tailings
Pyramid Rotary Jig®. Manufacture ceased and an advert is are bled through the tank wall via drain taps at two levels.
the sole source of data, but it seems to be an elaboration Then the tank is refilled and the process repeated “over
of the ‘Heavy Mineral Separator’ invented by Laurence H. and over again” until an “ultra-rich concentrate” is
Konvalin of California, patented in 1983 (US #4,389,309). achieved. A concentration ratio as large as 2000:1 is
The Pyramid E-tank lacks jig screen, jig bed, ragging, possible and the concentrate is removed from the bottom
hutch chamber or vertical jig motion. The advert stresses of the tank via a concentrate tap as a batch discharge.
it differs from hutch jigs and diaphragm jigs. Rather the Continuous operation is possible with automatic feeders.
invention belongs to a family of gravitation devices termed
Adoption by placer gold miners
‘elutriated sludge tanks’ (E-tanks) that seem particularly
suited to recovering very fine gold [28]. The Pyramid E-tank seems to have enjoyed a brief
The Pyramid Rotary Jig® is here termed the ‘Pyramid period of moderate interest from recreational miners in
E-tank’. Model #T50 consists of a circular tank tapering North America but then swiftly vanished into obscurity. It
from 22-inch diameter at the top to 18-inch diameter at is unclear if any such devices are still in use in spite of
the bottom. The taper is said to be significant. their clear potential for fine gold recovery.

Figure 124. GOLD RECOVERY BY PYRAMID E-TANK (Pyramid rotary jig) – generalised
Recovery of placer gold by Pyramid E-tank based on claims of the manufacturer’s advertisement. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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43: Lashley’s ASAT E-tower – 1980s research in New Mexico


An early elutriation tower was invented by Lewis
Jennings of New York and patented in 1849 (US #8,410).
Operation
Today elutriation towers use a rising column of water Clean water is introduced into a 1-inch, 2-inch or 4-
and typically use a teeter (hindered settling) for recovery. inch diameter column either near its base or part-way up,
However there are many types of E-tower and a at a controlled rate as determined by experiments.
systematic classification is long overdue. Rising up inside the column, the water enters a
Around 1968 the United States Bureau of Mines teeter zone characterised by hindered settling.
began a Heavy Metals Program and awarded a research Finely screened concentrate (e.g. <0.2mm) is
contract to the Minerals Industry Research Laboratory spooned into the tower from above and falls through the
(MIRL) of the University of Alaska, to test and improve the rising water down as far as the teeter zone.
recovery rate of -100 screen mesh gold in the Alaskan Extremely dense particles such as gold fall through
placer deposits. MIRL built a lab scale E-tower and ran the teeter zone to accumulate in the bottom of the device
hundreds of successful tests on placer material, and much as a lag deposit to await batch discharge
of the findings were published [109,110]. Fairly dense particles accumulate as a hovering
In the late 1980s ASAT continued the research and fluidised mass (teeter bed) in the teeter zone. The
built ASAT towers of several sizes (1-inch, 2-inch and 4- continuous arrival of new particles from above into the
inch) for lab tests, de-sliming clean-ups and full-scale teeter zone causes particles to become increasingly
production [111]. crowded and then only hindered settling can occur
Walter Lashley of ASAT invented a superior form of The hindered settling means that dense only dense
elutriation tower (E-tower) in the 1980s that attracted particles can get to the base of the teeter bed, and in
considerable attention for its ability to recover fine gold. doing so they eject upwards less dense particles.
During the early 1990s an environmental mining As a result the teeter bed becomes vertically
equipment R&D group took over the testing on the E- stratified with the densest particles at its base overlain by
towers from Walter Lashley and did considerable field lighter particles
tests and is reported to have made vast improvements on The lighter particles are vulnerable to ejection with
ASAT’s original design. Over 120 units were installed on the rising water as tailings whereas the heavier particles
several mining projects in the USA and Mexico and are protected from scouring away by the carpet of lighter
reported to have worked very well. particles resting upon them.
An advanced form of ASAT E-tower is capable of After processing many spoonfuls of material, the
recovering <5μ gold in a controlled environment in a lab, enriched gold concentrate is siphoned off from the device.
and can recover 50% of <10μ in field experiments which
is significantly better than most other recovery devices. Adoption by placer gold miners
Variants of E-towers relevant to simple recovery of E-towers became popular for a while among placer
fine placer gold include the ‘Gold Funnel’ of Rodney gold companies and recreational miners in North America
Charles Christensen of California patented in 1997 (US but currently there seems to be neither manufacturers nor
#5,692,620). R&D interest, and awareness among miners is very low.

Figure 94. GOLD RECOVERY BY ASAT’s E-TOWER


Recovery of placer gold from black sand concentrate by Lashley’s ASAT E-tower, according to diverse reports. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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44: Osterberg’s E-tower – 1980s research in California


Operation
Clean water is introduced into a 4-inch diameter
column near its base, at 2 gallons/minute. Once inside,
the water passes through a distributor in a sequence
designed to create a non-turbulent up-flow:
² through a perforated plate secured to a bottom ring; then
² through a disc of felted, fibrous synthetic polymer; then
² through a screen with openings so fine that upward flow is
substantially unaffected in its lateral uniformity; and finally
² through a coarse screen.
Screened concentrate is spooned into the tower from
above. The water rises with enough velocity to non-
turbulently fluidise the concentrate yet without ejecting
particles with the overflow of wash water.
The upwelling water must decelerate for black sand
to hover as a fluidised bed, the deceleration being due to
the rising non-turbulent plumes of wash water have more
width once free of the flow distributor. Photos posted by
Megan Rose (Gold_Tutor) [112] suggest the device is not
Figure 95. OSTERBERG’s E-TOWER a teetered bed settler as hindered settling seems minor.
Siphoning of tailings. (adapted by Robin Grayson from the patent) The patent suggests the fluidised bed be stirred
Osterberg’s E-tower was invented by Daniel Osterberg gently at the start to encourage gold to fall to the bottom.
of California, patented in 1984 (US #4,451,359), and The upper portion of the fluidised bed is deemed to
marketed as the Quick Gold Separator. be depleted of gold and is siphoned off as tailings.
The device causes black sand to fluidise and particles The dense gold particles remain behind and more
to hover. For ‘hovering’, the water velocity has to slacken concentrate is spooned into the top of the column.
upwards – impossible in a cylinder is of uniform diameter. After processing many spoonfuls of material, the
Slackening is by the water escaping from the constricted enriched gold concentrate is siphoned off from the device.
space in the flow distributor. If a teetered bed E-tower Adoption by placer gold miners
then hovering is accompanied by hindered settling in the
teetering fluidised bed, displacing lighter particles upward. Osterberg’s E-tower gained some popularity in North
The author suggests that Osterberg’s device is a America among recreational gold miners but production
multiple E-tower with many rising columns jetting upward, eventually ceased in spite of the clear potential of the
each decelerating once free of the flow distributor. device. The device is undergoing technical evaluation by
Osterberg’s E-tower seems capable of achieving high Megan Rose (Gold_Tutor) and details are posted on the
percentage fine gold recovery and merits testing. Colorado Prospectors’ Forum [112].

Figure 96. GOLD RECOVERY BY OSTERBERG’s E-TOWER


Recovery of placer gold from black sand concentrate by Osterberg’s E-tower, tentatively based on diverse reports. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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73: Reflux classifier – 2000s research in Australia


Operation
This account is conjectural, as the reflux classifier has
yet to be tested with fine gold. The device will process
feed up to 5mm size. Intuitively feed would be screened
into fractions (e.g. >1mm, 1-2.5mm and 2.5-5mm) each
directed to a different reflux classifier. In practice a reflux
classifier is most advantageous for the <1mm fraction.
Feed is introduced towards the top of the E-tower
and begins to fall through the water column. This is
opposed by the up welling of injected fluidisation water
and a wobbling ‘teetered’ mass of fluidised particles
results, only the densest and heaviest particles reaching
the bottom as final concentrate. The rising column of
water lifts the finest particles (including very fine gold)
and up well between the inclined plates of the lamella.
In the inclined section, the trajectories of the densest
Figure 149. REFLUX CLASSIFIER fine particles fail to clear the top of the plates and so
Generalised layout of a modern reflux classifier (drawing: Robin
Grayson, redrawn from article by Zhou et al 2006 [195].) these particles collide with the plates. The ensuing friction
slows the dense fine particles and they slide down the
The ‘modern’ reflux classifier was invented by Kevin
plates back into the E-tower. The plates are inclined at
Galvin of New South Wales who applied for an Australian
about 70° degrees – shallow enough to ensure dense
patent in 2000 (application 09/890,487) and was awarded
particles hit the plates, yet steep enough to ensure
a USA patent in 2004 (US 6,814,241). Commercialisation
particles slide down it [199].
is by Ludowici Mineral Processing Equipment Pty Ltd –
Other particles fail to settle and continue upwards to
www.ludomin.com/products/reflux_classifier.htm.
escape as tailings.
The ‘modern’ reflux classifier follows innovations such
To ensure fine gold will settle yet quartz remain in
as the 'Method and apparatus for cleaning sand or grading
suspension the ratio of plate length to plate-plate gap is
sand…' patented in 1947 by A.B. Morris (US #2,426,839).
as great as 200:1 (‘aspect ratio) [195,197], far more than
A reflux classifier is a combination of E-tower and
the 40:1 used to separate coal from mineral matter.
lamella settler. More than one set of lamella is possible,
but a set of lamella caps the E-tower as an ‘inclined Adoption by placer gold miners
section’ for best results [194-199]. This inhibit heavy
particles escaping with the overflow water, enabling fine The modern reflux classifier may prove to have major
particles to be “removed or classified in a more concentrated applications for recovering fine placer gold for artisanal
form" and is more tolerance of feed fluctuations. gold miners, recreational miners and placer companies.

Figure 150. HYPOTHETICAL GOLD RECOVERY BY REFLUX CLASSIFIER


Hypothetical recovery of gold by the reflux classifier’ based on work by Zhou and colleagues [195]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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74: Ecologic E-tower – 2000s research in New Zealand


Operation
A trowel-full of pay gravel is put on the static simple
screen that sits on top of the conical device. The device
can process up to 2m3/hour of easy-to-dig pay gravel, less
so if clayey.
Water is supplied by the innovative pedal-powered
Ecologics water pump patented worldwide in 2006 (WO
#2006071127). About 100 litres of water are re-circulated
until it becomes too contaminated. Both pump and
concentrator can use water that is clayey or silty.
The material on the screen is swashed from below by
agitated water and the fines fall though the screen.
Washed oversize remains on the screen and is checked for
nuggets then discarded. Black sand and gold fall to the
bottom of the cone, in spite of the turbulent up-flow,
while fine light particles are swept out.
Water is introduced violently from the bottom of the
device. Rather than a delicately balanced teeter, this is an
up-welling mass of energetic water pumped in pulses via a
flexible plastic pipe from Ecologic’s pedal-powered water
pump. The pulsing action keeps the water in the cone
agitated and causes it to continuously spill over the rim of
the top of the cone.
Figure 151. ECOLOGIC CONCENTRATOR
Oblique views of Ecologic’s ‘Gold Concentrator’ showing the The device is stopped to gather the concentrate
simple screen (photo: Ecologics Ltd – www.ecologics.co.nz) settled in the bottom the cone, by flushing out with a little
The Ecologic concentrator is an innovative type of water. It is then upgraded by panning or other means.
elutriation tower (E-tower) recently developed by The inventor considers coarse gold recovery is 95%
Ecologics Ltd of New Zealand (www.ecologics.co.nz). and fine gold recovery 80-90%. In some field tests only
Marketed as the Ecologic ‘gold concentrator’, the 0.2% of the gold reported to the tailings. Generalised test
device is a remarkable ‘catch-all’ able to catch all shapes results have been published in South Africa [200].
and sizes of gold particles, large and small. This is
Adoption by placer gold miners
technically challenging, for the high-energy Newtonian
setting regime needed to catch nuggets and eject large The Ecologic ‘gold concentrator’ is marketed
quartz is also capable of flushing out fine gold and flat worldwide to artisanal placer gold miners and interest is
gold with the tailings. being shown by some recreational miners.

Figure 152. GOLD RECOVERY BY ECOLOGIC E-TOWER


Recovery of placer gold by the Ecologic ‘gold concentrator’ based on manufacturer’s information. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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26: Visman’s compound water cyclone – 1970s research in the Yukon


Operation
Feed is passed through a fine mesh screen (e.g. 1-
3mm), then pumped as slurry into a CWC at a controlled
rate. The slurry pressure induces the slurry to slam
against the internal wall of the cyclone, and spin
vigorously while subjected to high g forces (e.g. 40-50 g).
A gold particle’s residence time in a CWC is a mere
second [72] before being ejected in the underflow. It is
unclear how separation is achieved so rapidly.
The densest particles, fine and coarse, are
continuously discharged as concentrate from the base of
the CWC with the underflow.
The lightest particles are continuously discharged
from the top of the CWC with the overflow. Unfortunately
the Alaska tests did not produce a high concentration
ratio, and therefore the compound water cyclone can be
inserted into a wash-plant as a useful but non-essential
Figure 57. VISMAN’s COMPOUND WATER CYCLONE stage, rather than replacing say a sluice, jig or centrifuge.
Cross-section of Visman’s compound water cyclone (CWC). Dense Results of tests are variable, and it is concluded by
particles report to the UNDERFLOW, light particles report to the the author that as yet – in spite of considerable research –
OVERFLOW. (drawing: Robin Grayson from US patent #3,353,673)
the theoretical basis for CWC is not firmly established and
Visman’s compound water cyclone (CWC) was this is an impediment to developing a device that
invented by Jan Visman of Alberta and patented in 1965 consistently produces good results in terms of fine gold
(US #3,353,673) and reissued in 1967 (US Re#26,720). recovery and concentration ratio.
Research on the ability of compound water cyclones
to recover placer gold began in the Yukon in the 1970s Adoption by placer gold miners
[70] and continued in the 1980s in British Columbia [71]
Experiments on placer gold recovery by CWCs have
and Alaska [11,56,72,73].
been conducted from the early 1970’s to recent times in
CWCs were developed to maximise concentration by
North America (British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska) and
particle density. They are of squat shape due to their
Soviet Union [74]
wide-angled cones, and internally have long ‘vortex
In spite of early success in recovering placer gold,
finders.’ CWCs are potentially excellent gold recovery
R&D on compound water cyclones did not produce fully
devices by virtue of low cost, ease of operation, and no
reliable CWCs for placer gold mines. Manufacture has
moving parts. Instead it uses the energy of pumped
ceased in the west, although they may be still being made
inflowing slurry ‘guided’ by the internal shape of the
in the Russian Federation.
device to achieve centrifugal concentration.

Figure 58. GOLD RECOVERY BY COMPOUND WATER CYCLONES – Alaska tests


Recovery of placer gold by CWCs in tests in Alaska by the Minerals Industry Research Laboratory [56,72,73]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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28: Bartles’ crossbelt – 1970s research in Cornwall

Operation
The feed consist of 15-35% solids that have been
finely screened, ideally 150μ. The slurry is fine enough to
be termed slime.
Slurry is fed to the device at a rate of about 500 kilos
per hour of solids. The slurry is introduced via a feed box
to about half the length of the central ridge of the belt.
Heavies settle on the belt and remain on it, moving
along with the belt, the belt travelling forward at a rate of
3-8mm per second. The moving belt passes through a
‘cleaning zone’ where middlings are washed off the belt.
The heavies remain on the belt to be discharged over
the roller when the belt starts to turn upside down.
The Bartles crossbelt is “particularly effective” for
recovering material from 20 to 150μ and “consistently
outperforms conventional fine sands and slimes tables”
[61]. The orbital shear is closely controlled and adjusted
to optimise recovery.
Figure 61. BARTLES’ CROSSBELT Lights fail to settle on the belt due to the action of
Layout simplified from the patent. (drawing: Robin Grayson). the orbital shear and so flow off the sides of the belt,
The Bartles crossbelt is a vanner invented by Richard made possible by the sides of the belt gently sloping
Owen Burt of Cornwall and patented in the UK and then in sideward at 1.5° to 3°.
1977 in the United States (US #4,060,482), and assigned The belt is much wider than conventional tables and
to Bartles (Carn Brea) Ltd of Cornwall. this allows a greater spreading area for valuable products,
The Bartles crossbelt consists of a 2.44m wide therefore allowing distinct cuts to be made between the
endless PVC belt that passes over a pair of rollers, one gold concentrate and the middlings.
being the drive roller. A unique feature of the belt is its
Adoption by placer gold miners
central longitudinal ridge from which the belt slopes
slightly to its sides. The Bartles crossbelt was intended primarily for
An orbital shaking motion of 250-400 rpm is imparted hardrock mills and tin recovery, and sold worldwide. The
to the moving belt by a rotating weight, made possible by author is unaware of it having ever being applied to
the belt assembly being freely suspended by four wires recovery of very fine gold, although it has potential. The
from a supporting frame. The orbital shaking motion is invention is an alternative to a shaking table but
induced by an out-of-balance rotating drive shaft driven manufacture ceased a decade ago.
by an infinitely variable D.C. electric motor.

Figure 62. GOLD RECOVERY BY BARTLES’ CROSSBELT


Gold recovery by Bartles’ crossbelt, according to Silva 1986 [61]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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51: Lemmon’s vanner – 1980s research in the Yukon


Operation
A good example of the operation of a vanner in
recovering placer gold is of the home-made belt
concentrator devised by C.W. Ammen [158].
The device is “a smooth rubber belt moving uphill at
a rather slow pace.” The belt is of extremely smooth white
rubber belting from a food machinery manufacturer. The
unit has a hand-held water hose allowing the operator to
vary the water pressure, volume and direction. The belt is
driven by a gear-reducer motor with an autotransformer,
giving a range of speeds. Strictly speaking, to be classed
Figure 109. VANNER as a vanner then belt should be vibrating but it is unclear
A vanner is a vibrating endless belt moving upslope taking if the motor vibrates the belt significantly or not.
heavies with it to discharge at the top end as valuable As the belt travels upward, the material “...is sifted
concentrate. Light particles pour off the bottom roller as tailings.
(drawing: Robin Grayson). onto the belt about midway between top and bottom. At
this point, a fine water spray is played on the belt, so that
Lemmon’s vanner was invented by Norvel Lemmons
you have a downward flow of water as the material moves
of Arkansas and patented in 1989 (US #4,826,018). Tests
upward. The gangue washes down while the gold particles
on Liard River placers in the Yukon achieved recoveries
stick to the belt with great tenacity - especially when the
“consistently above 95% and some approached 99%” for
gold appears in the form of flat particles (platelets)”. This
placer gold of 20-250μ. However it is unclear if Lemmons’
comment is intriguing as it suggests that Ammen’s belt
vanner was commercialised, but it merits further study.
may be more disposed to recover flat gold than is possible
Experiments to recover placer gold with other types
with most other devices.
of vanner were made in Alaska [157] and elsewhere but
Ammen’s belt proved was effective in recovering
none were successfully commercialised. Meriting
“99.99%” of “fine gold” that was put as tracer in sand fed
investigation is that gold particles grip tenaciously to
to the device.
certain synthetic surfaces due to electrostatic charges.
A gently inclined endless belt can recover gold. If the Adoption by placer gold miners
belt is driven upslope and slurry poured on it, then the
slurry will flow down the belt to topple off as tailings over The author is unaware of vanners or belt
the end roller. Meanwhile dense particles such as gold will concentrators being used by company-scale placer gold
cling to the belt by friction and be hauled with the belt to miners at present. Such devices are used by artisanal gold
the top roller where they topple into a concentrate bin. miners in South America and perhaps elsewhere, notably
Vanners are a simple but marked improvement, by gold recovery from milled hardrock ore.
introducing some gentle vibration to the slowly moving
belt and this generally enhances gold recovery.

Figure 110. GOLD RECOVERY BY LEMMON’s VANNER – Lizard River tests, Yukon
Recovery of placer gold by Lemmon’s vanner, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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45: Younge’s horizontal centrifuge – 1980s research in British Columbia


Operation
Pay gravel is introduced into the slightly raised feed
end. The pay gravel is pre-washed by intense focussed
spray bars in the feed hopper, but only a little water is
used and no water is added in the device itself. The
horizontal centrifuge needs a 50:50 mix of solids and
water, a major advantage over other types of wash-plant.
The slurry falls on the floor of the spinning cylinder,
and is lifted up the wall by the rising longitudinal riffles.
The increasing tilt of the riffles in their curved ascent
causes the water and lighter particles to cascade back
down to the floor. The heavies remain pinned against the
wall of the spinning cylinder by enhanced g forces.
The compartments between the longitudinal riffles fill
Figure 97. YOUNGE’s HORIZONTAL CENTRIFUGE with solids and the ejected water flows into the next
Younge’s horizontal centrifuge in an innovative wash-plant by compartment. This flow "…shears over the longitudinal
Roger Wagner. (photo: Leonard Leeper - www.golddredger.com) riffles and in doing so forms a vortex area between
Younge’s horizontal centrifuge was invented by Earl adjacent longitudinal riffles…" and, "…this vortex keeps
G. Younge of Langley in British Columbia for which he was particles of low specific gravity in suspension and they are
granted patents in Canada in 1981 and 1983 (CA ultimately carried along through a succession of annular
#1,110,206 and #1,153,336) and similar patents in the compartments...” and so are ejected as tailings.
USA in 1981 and 1982 (US #4,265,743 and #4,347,130) The cylinder has a high rotation speed and so the
entitled ‘Method and Apparatus for Extraction of Gold diameter of the cylinder can be rather small:
From Placer Gravel’ and ‘Placer Mineral Concentrator and ² 5ft long 16-inch diameter cylinder, with five 1.25-inch high
Process’. longitudinal riffles and three 1.375-inch high annular riffles,
In this account the device is termed a horizontal rotates at 140-170 rpm and processes 8 tons/hour (4m3);
centrifuge to clarify its distinctive character – a spinning ² 7.5ft long 20-inch diameter cylinder, with six 1.75-inch high
cylinder with its interior wall equipped with two sets of longitudinal riffles and four 2-inch high annular riffles, rotates
riffles – one set of longitudinal riffles running its entire at 128 rpm and processes 20 tons/hour (10m3).
length, and at right angles to them a second set of riffles Adoption by placer gold miners
forming annular rings around the wall.
The simplest horizontal centrifuge is a scrubber- Younge’s horizontal centrifuge is occasionally seen at
centrifuge – a scrubber rotating so fast the material is not placer gold mines in North America but does not seem to
only scrubbed but also spun so fast it attains a significant have gained wide acceptance, presumably due to lack of
degree of density classification. Some scrubbers may awareness of its considerable advantages regarding fine
unwittingly be centrifuges. gold recovery and low water usage.

Figure 98. GOLD RECOVERY BY YOUNGE’S HORIZONTAL CENTRIFUGE


Recovery of placer gold by Younge’s horizontal centrifuge, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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62: ItomakTM bowl – 1990s research in Novosibirsk


Operation
The smaller ItomakTM models (KG-0.1 and KG-1.0)
are for upgrading. Concentrate screened at <2mm is fed
manually into the hopper above the centrifuge. Water is
added via a hand-held spray to create slurry that flows
down a slurry pipe to discharge close to the bottom of the
inside of the bowl. Here the slurry collides with a raised
discharge plate that has six oblique tangential extensions
to help fling the solids to reach the base of the riffled wall
of the centrifuge. The rotor rotates at 1,250 rpm in model
KG-01 and 700 rpm in the somewhat larger model KG-1.0.
Injection of fluidisation water helps prevent packing of the
riffles.
The smaller ItomakTM models (KG-0.1 and KG-1.0)
are distinctive and probably unique amongst centrifugal
bowl concentrators in that the bowl is tilted out of the
vertical and the centrifuge therefore spins around an
inclined axis of rotation.
The larger ItomakTM models are designed for the final
Figure 129. ITOMAKTM BOWL
The smallest ItomakTM concentrator, model KG 0.1, at the placer stage of a wash-plant. Depending on the model they can
gold mine of Polymet Polata Ltd at Sharin Gol in Mongolia. The processing 2-15m3 of solids. Slurry screened at <3mm is
top cover is removed to display the tilted riffled bowl. (photo: fed via a slurry pipe to discharge at the ‘far wall’ of the
Robin Grayson)
spinning bowl. The bowl rotates in the horizontal plane,
The ItomakTM bowl is a novel centrifugal concentrator again differing from most western bowls. The rotor rotates
developed by SMA ITOMAK [184,185,186], a company at 500-650 rpm to slam the slurry against the wall of the
spun out of a Novosibirsk scientific centre: bowl. Injection of fluidisation water helps prevent packing.
www.itomak.com. ItomakTM bowls, large and small, are stopped for
The bowl is riffled and spins tilted in smaller models batch discharge of concentrate.
and horizontally with the larger models, unlike western bowl
centrifuges – KnelsonTM, FalconTM, Knudsen, NeffcoTM, Adoption by placer gold miners
GoldkatchaTM etc – whose bowls spin round a vertical axis.
Itomaks have been used in placer mining since 1996,
The larger ItomakTM bowls resembles the Chinese Yunxi
and are installed in Western Siberia, the Urals, in Yakutya-
and SLS bowls that spin round a horizontal axis.
Sakha, Buriatia, Hakasya, Mining Altai, Krasnoyarsk,
The horizontal attitude has some advantages, such
Khabarovsk edge of the Magadan and Amur areas, and also
as the rotary mechanism being above the water when at
Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mongolia and South Africa.
rest.

Figure 130. GOLD RECOVERY BY ITOMAKTM BOWL – Novosibirsk tests


Recovery of placer gold by Itomak centrifuge bowl, based on information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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51: FalconTM SB bowl – 1990s research in British Columbia


Operation
The feed is screened at 2-6mm and fed as slurry
from above via a slurry pipe that discharges near the
bottom of the bowl where it is flung by an impeller
towards the wall. Rotation is very fast to achieve 50 to
300g and this slams the concentrate against the wall and
induces density stratification of the slurry.
Upon rising up the outwardly sloping wall, the
stratified slurry passed over a concentrate bed fluidised
from behind by back-pressure water. The fluidised bed
enables the Falcon SB to process and retain particles in
Figure 127. FALCONTM SB BOWL the concentrate bed in preference to lighter minerals that
Looking down a Falcon SB bowl, showing the smooth lower are ejected as continuously discharging tailings.
separation area overlain by a riffled upper separation area.
The Falcon SB achieves a concentration ratio of
(photo: Falcon Concentrators Inc – www.concentrators.net)
1,000 or more and so the volume of concentrate is low.
The FalconTM Superbowl (SB) was invented by Steve
Periodically the feed is stopped to permit the
McAlister to complement the original FalconTM B bowl. The
concentrate to be rinsed out of the bowl as a batch
new SB bowl was tested on a placer gold deposit in British
discharge. A typical operating cycle is 2 to 4 hours.
Columbia and patented in 1995 (US #5,462,513)
Recently Falcons have been awarded a patent for
[125,153]. The floor of the Superbowl has an impeller,
continuous discharge (US #6,796,934).
and the lower two-thirds of the wall are a smooth
‘migration zone’. However the upper third of the wall Adoption by placer gold miners
bears horizontal riffles with pores for water injection in the
Falcon Superbowls are occasionally used in wash-
intervening grooves, acting as a ‘retention zone’. This is
plants in placer gold operations:
based on the elutriated centrifugal bowl patented 50 years ² Crescent Mining, Guyana – Falcon SB250;
before by Arnold Nesbitt McNicol in Australia (AU ² Sunshine Fields Corp, Philippines – Falcon SB250;
#17487/34 and AU #22055/35). ² Promotora Minera Salemex SA de CV, Mexico – Falcon SB750;
Recovery of fine gold by the Falcon and Knelson ² Umico Ltd, Lukarasi Project, Tanzania – Falcon SB750;
bowls are somewhat similar [125,134,140, 142,145,180- ² Nolan Gold Mine, Alaska – Falcon SB2500 in1° recovery;
² Garraway Resources, Guyana – Falcon SB2500; and
183]. ² Apollo Gold, Venezuela – Falcon SB2500.
Falcon Superbowls are occasionally used to recover
gold as a by-product of sand and gravel mining:
² Teichert Aggregates, California – Falcon SB2500 cleaning jig
tails, plus a Falcon SB750 cleaning table tails; and
² Montezuma Aggregates, USA – Falcon SB2500 in automated
1° recovery, plus an SB750.

Figure 128. GOLD RECOVERY BY FALCONTM SB BOWL – based on recovery of tungsten tracer
Recovery by FalconTM Super Bowl, according to lab experiments with tungsten tracer [140]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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50: FalconTM C bowl – 1980s research in British Columbia


Operation
The feed is screened at say 2mm and fed either dry
or as slurry from above via a feed pipe that delivers the
feed in an ‘impeller zone’ near the bottom of the bowl.
Here the feed is flung tangentially to the foot of the wall
by the high apparent gravity of the spinning bowl plus the
action of the impeller. The impeller reduces the energy
needed to rotate the bowl and helps to drive the slurry.
Rotation is very fast to attain 20 to 300g [152].
The feed is driven by the high apparent gravity up
the lower part of the centrifuge is gently conical, tapering
outwards at 8-14°, and termed the ‘migration zone’.
Within this zone, the flowing film becomes highly stratified
with the gold against the wall and the lighter particles and
liquid forming a superficial layer.
Rising up the outwardly tapering wall of the
migration zone, the flowing film enters the cylindrical
Figure 107. FALCONTM C BOWL upper part of the centrifuge termed the ‘retention zone’.
Generalised view of a FalconTM C bowl, modified from the patent. Gold arriving in the retention zone displace lighter
(drawing: Robin Grayson) particles that are liberated into the jacket-like discharge
The FalconTM C bowl is the original Falcon invented chamber to be ejected as tailings.
by Steve McAlister after noting fine gold in the sand/slime Since 1990, the device is fitted with an AutoPAC that
stream of gravel mines in British Columbia. A prototype controls the rpm of the rotor and feed valve and
was tested in 1981. By 1986 the first commercial FalconTM automates a 90-minute cycle time interrupted by a mere
was operational and patented in 1989 (US #4,824,431) 30-40 seconds for automatic water flushing of concentrate
[152-155]. Although largely eclipsed by later versions, down the hollow drive shaft.
experiments continue to deepen understanding of the The percentage recovery of very fine gold is high, but
device [156] – www.concentrators.net. the concentration ratio is low. Therefore the concentrate is
The FalconTM C bowl has a very smooth inner wall. It not rich enough for smelting and the device is best used
differs fundamentally radically from the KnelsonTM C bowl as a pre-concentrator and for upgrading tailings.
by NOT having riffles or elutriation water and so lacks
pores and has no water jacket. Rather than trapping gold Adoption by placer gold miners
in a fluidised bed maintained by water injection, the The Falcon C bowl was originally designed to recover
FalconTM C bowl uses high apparent gravity to induce placer gold, but has been superseded by the Falcon SB
density stratification in a thin flowing film. bowl in placer gold operations.

Figure 108. GOLD RECOVERY BY FALCONTM C BOWL – based on recovery of gold tracer
Recovery by FalconTM C bowl, according to lab experiments with gold tracer, and users claims. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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49: KnelsonTM bowl – 1980s research in British Columbia


Operation
Gold is recovered in an inner bowl in a centrifugal
field with an apparent gravitational field of 60g. By
injecting pressurised water into the inner bowl maintains a
fluidised bed of black sand into which gold particles can
burrow. Black sand is dislodged to make room. Basic
models have batch discharge (manual or automatic), the
operation being stopped to permit the flushing out of
concentrate. In larger models, discharge may be
continuous, enabling uninterrupted operation.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The KnelsonTM bowl did not become widely popular in
placer gold recovery due to cost and need to pre-screen:
² lab testing – Bajo Cauca and El Bagre placers in Antioquia,
Columbia. Coarse gold recovery had been 40-70% with sluice
boxes and jigs. Fine gold recovery had been low. Tests with
3-inch and 7.5-inch KnelsonTM bowls yielded recoveries of 98-
99.9% of fine placer gold [148].
Figure 105. KNELSONTM BOWL ² lab testing – Ikh Alt Mine in Zaamar Goldfield, Mongolia. Pay
A 3-inch KnelsonTM concentrator. with ceramic bowl ready to
insert. (photo: KnelsonTM Inc – www.knelsongravitysolutions.com) gravels sampled in the harsh winter and trucked to
Ulaanbaatar to determine grade using a 3-inch KnelsonTM
The KnelsonTM bowl is a centrifugal bowl inside a
bowl fitted with a vibrating sluice and spray bar [149].
water jacket, elutriated water being injected under ² pilot mining – Toson Terrace Mine in Zaamar Goldfield,
pressure via holes to prevent packing of the black sand Mongolia. KnelsonTM concentrators proved very effective in
trapped in the riffles of the bowl wall. test mining [150], being superior to Russian-style sluices.
The KnelsonTM bowl was invented by Bryan Knelson Setbacks occurred in 1997-99 with the failure of Java Gold
of British Columbia in the 1970s [129,130]. He patented Inc at this mine using KnelsonTM concentrators – due to
the device in 1986 (US #4,608,040) as an advance on the management not technology [151].
elutriated centrifugal bowl patented 50 years before by ² full-scale mining – Howley Mine of Metana Minerals NL in
Arnold Nesbitt McNicol in Australia (AU #17487/34 and AU Western Australia. Initial test recovery was disappointing with
a trommel-jig washing plant. KnelsonTM bowls increased gold
#22055/35). Bryan Knelson continued innovating, gaining
recovery by 35%, permitting reworking of a million m3 of jig
more patents in 1988 (US #4,776,833) and 1991
tailings despite high clay content. [129].
(US#4,983,156). Later patents cover refinements, notably ² full-scale mining – Akrokeri-Ashanti Ltd (AAGM) in Ghana.
continuous discharge (US#5,338,254) and mercury Partial success, but mine closed due to various factors,
recovery (US #5,368,541). The KnelsonTM bowl became a including lack of mobility of the wash-plants.
popular subject for theses [131-137] and tests [138-148].

Figure 106. GOLD RECOVERY BY KNELSONTM BOWL – based on recovery of tungsten tracer
Recovery of placer gold by KnelsonTM bowl, according to lab experiments with tungsten tracer [140]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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48: Yunxi bowl – 1960-1990s research in Yunnan


centrifugation IFFC” [125-127]. The bowl’s rotation is
adjustable from 83 g to a phenomenal 1,500 g.
The fast rotation creates a stratified bed of moving
particles that climbs the wall to the rim where they are
dislodged by a high pressure water jet. The SLS bowl has
six models with capacities from 110 kilos to 12 tons/hour,
all designed to recover fine and ultrafine cassiterite
particles as a continuous discharge.
Adjusting the operating parameters enables high
recovery of 1μ cassiterite [125], and commercial tests
showed 55-60% recovery of cassiterite from <10μ tailings
with an upgrading ratio of 10 [127]. Using the SL-600
Separator on cassiterite slimes, the most suitable size
range for cassiterite recovery was 3-37 µm [125, 127].

Operation
The author has not seen a description of how the
Yunxi bowl operates.
Figure 103. YUNXI BOWL
Generalised arrangement of an 80cm diameter Yunxi bowl, after Tin ore is first screened to <74μ and a suitable slurry
Y. Sun [123,124]. (drawing: Robin Grayson) prepared. The slurry is gravity fed into the rotating Yunxi
The Yunxi bowl was developed by the Yunnan Tin bowl and the heavies are slammed on the inside wall of
Corporation in the early 1960s in China for recovering the centrifuge. The amount of enhanced gravity is 102 g,
extremely fine cassiterite (SnO2) [124]. 51g and 30g for bowls of diameters of 40cm, 80cm and
For decades unknown in the west, over 20 years the 1.6m respectively.
Yunxi bowl was the world’s best centrifuge for recovering The heavies remain on the bowl wall as concentrate
fine minerals, until the advent of the KnelsonTM bowl, to await batch discharge, while the lighter particles are
FalconTM bowls, MozleyTM MGS bowl and KelseyTM ejected as a continuous discharge of tailings.
centrifugal jig. For three decades the Yunxi bowl remained After a period, the device is stopped for batch
radically different from other bowl centrifuges until the discharge of concentrate. The stopping, discharging and
birth of the Russian ItomakTM bowl. restarting are automatically controlled.
The Yunxi bowl is a short centrifuge that rotates on a Adoption by placer gold miners
horizontal axis. The bowl is near-parallel sided, sloping 3-
5° to its discharge end. A limitation is the low capacity, About 1,000 Yunxi bowls were installed in tin,
e.g. about 30 tons/day for an 80cm bowl [124]. tungsten and iron ore plants in China [128]. However the
In the late 1980s the Yunxi bowl spawned the SL- author has found no evidence of either the Yunxi bowl or
type separator (SLS) with “injection flowing film its successor the SLS bowl being used in gold recovery.

Figure 104. CASSITERITE RECOVERY BY YUNXI BOWL – China tests


Recovery of cassiterite by the Yunxi bowl and its successor the SLS bowl according to Jie Xiao [125]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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27: Neffco bowl – 1970s research in Utah


Operation
Feed material is screened at 0.3 to 1.5mm, then
preferably to <100 Tyler mesh as larger solids may block
the groove. If feed is dry it must first be thoroughly
wetted, for instance in a longish water trough.
The Neffco bowl runs full of water as it spins. Slurry
is fed down the central tube to the bottom of the bowl
and works its way to the sidewall. The bowl and its spiral
groove drag the water and induce the water to spin. “It
looks like a reverse auger as the groove appears to auger
Figure 59. NEFFCO BOWL
down to the bottom of the bowl” (source:
Examining the inside of a Neffco bowl, showing the spiral riffles. PopandSonminers). The drag of the water may aid
(photo: courtesy of DanfromNY on the Alaska Gold Forum) heavies to move to the sidewall and lights to spiral up.
The Neffco bowl was invented by Larry Neff of Utah. The slurry is continually swept down the spiral
He began experimenting with centrifugal recovery of flour groove. As the slurry spirals down, the heavies end up at
gold in 1976 and by 1980 had invented the novel Neffco the bottom of the groove while the lighter particles escape
bowl – it has a single long riffle groove that spirals upwards and out the top. The end result is that a high
downwards. Other bowls have grooves in rings. The percentage of heavies are driven to the bottom of the
Neffco bowl is made by Neffco Mining, of Salt Lake City, bowl. Periodically the bowl is stopped for batch discharge.
Utah – www.neffcomining.com. The rpm is fixed, and control is exerted by altering
The maker claims the Neffco bowl, when part of a the water input (source: Zooka). The water level is
complete wash-plant, recovers “better than 95% of the of maintained 1.5 inches below the rim and at the rim, with
the flour gold in most materials we have tested”. less water for finer cuts.
Anecdotal evidence indicates the Neffco bowl is capable of The 24-inch Neffco bowl will run 1-8 tons per hour of
recovering fine gold. But there are reports of very rounded solids, uses a ½hp motor, rotates twice per second, uses
gold particles sometimes flowing (rolling?) straight out of 125 gallons per minute of water and is claimed to be able
the unit although these can be caught before or to capture 500-mesh gold (25μ).
afterwards with a standard sluice (source: Zooka of AGF).
To achieve capacity, often 4 or more bowls are run in
Adoption by placer gold miners
parallel, and – presumably because of the escape of large The Neffco bowl is fairly popular among placer gold
high sphericity gold – a long length of expanded metal miners in North America, mainly for cleaning concentrate.
sluice is used to scavenge the tailings. The Neffco bowl A few mines use Neffco bowls in parallel as the core of
achieves a concentration ratio of 2,000 to 1. their primary wash-plants, plus a sluice to catch the round
To clean concentrates, material is run through two gold that escapes. Some recreational miners in Alaska use
bowls in series, and the second captures about 5% extra. Neffco bowls aboard small offshore dredges.

Figure 60. GOLD RECOVERY BY NEFFCO BOWL – generalised


Recovery of placer gold by Neffco bowl, according to manufacturer’s information and comments by users. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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16: Gilkey bowl – Alaska tests


Operation
First, mercury is poured into the stationary bowl, a
little less than the capacity of the mercury channel in the
side-wall. The bowl is then rotated to drive the mercury
into the channel.
Next the screened feed slurry is introduced, and the
feed density has to be strictly controlled at 20% solids
[59,60]. The feed slurry is introduced under a small head
of gravity via a central feed delivery pipe, pouring into the
middle of the bottom of the bowl. From here the slurry is
forced to slam into the sidewall. To minimise flouring, and
loss of mercury, the slurry first hits a ‘striking surface at
the bottom of the sidewall. Then the slurry flows up the
inner wall of the spinning bowl to cross the rotating
mercury held in the recess of the channel.
The tailings are ejected from the spinning rim of the
bowl as a continuous discharge and the risk of mercury
being accidentally lost is high so the tailings discharge is
immediately intercepted by a mercury trap.
Figure 37. GILKEY BOWL
A 6-inch Gilkey bowl, showing the flow of the slurry feed and The gold particles in the film of slurry crossing the
redirection by the ‘striking surface’ to minimise flouring of mercury are forced to amalgamate. After a period the feed
mercury. (redrawn from James Anderson [59] by Robin Grayson) is shut off and then the power shut off to slowly bring the
The Gilkey bowl was invented by Walter W. Gilkey of spinning bowl to rest. The gold is then recovered from the
Washington State during the 1960s, and only advanced mercury by squeezing through a fine cloth to retain the
versions patented. The basic version is a symmetrical steel Au-Hg amalgam as a paste, and the amalgam is then
bowl with open mouth upwards, dynamically balanced subjected to firing and retorting to separate and recover
around a drive spindle below the bowl. Part of the inner the gold and recycle the mercury.
wall is a broad cylindrical channel that holds the mercury.
The Gilkey bowl was one of the last of the ‘forced Adoption by placer gold miners
amalgamators’ that had been popular for over a century The Gilkey bowl and other ‘centrifugal forced
to recover ‘fine’, ‘flat’ and ‘flour’ gold by adding mercury to amalgamators’ were popular on large gold dredges in North
a spinning bowl to centrifugally press gold into mercury. America. The Gilkey bowl was a focus of research of the
Many forced amalgamators were invented and patented, Mineral Industry Research Laboratory in Alaska [59,60] in
such as the McKlellar amalgamator (US #1,003,118 of the 1970s but manufacture then ceased. A few Gilkey bowls
1911); the Taber amalgamator (US #1,457,560 of 1923); may still be in use in parts of Africa and South America.
and the Lorentsen machine (US #1,866,111 of 1932).

Figure 38. GOLD RECOVERY BY GILKEY BOWL – Alaska tests


The Gilkey bowl achieves 60% gold recovery at the 1st pass, 90% at the 2nd stage and 99% at the 3rd stage. [60]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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15: Knudsen bowl – Alaska tests


Operation
Pre-screened feed enters from above via a slurry pipe
that discharges in the centre of the spinning bowl about 1-
inch from the base. The slurry is flung sideward to slam
against the spinning wall. The climbing film of slurry is
impeded by concentric ribs of tough rubber riffles.
Dense particles slam in the grooves between the
riffles; Light particles climb the riffles to escape as tailings.
Lab tests by Mark Anthony [57,58] show the inventor’s
instructions to be in error. With <3/8 inch gravel “the rocks
could not be washed out of the riffles with a high-pressure
hose and had to be removed by pulling them out of the
rubber riffles with a pair of pliers.” This was solved by
limiting the feed to <1/8th inch. The rotation speed has to
Figure 35. KNUDSEN BOWL
Knudsen Bowl showing the central feed pipe, rubber riffles and 3 be at least 80 rpm or “…the bowl started dumping large
struts that enable the position of each blade to be adjusted. quantities of slurry directly onto the ground and drive
(photo: Steve Gaber of the Alaska Gold Forum) mechanism.” Optimum recovery of gold >65 Tyler mesh
The Knudsen bowl was invented by George Knudsen (about >0.2mm) is at 105 rpm with 68 gallons/minute of
of California and patented in 1942 (US #2,272,675). It water and a pulp density of 5-20% solids.
eclipsed the first rubber-riffled centrifuge – the Ainlay bowl Tests by ‘Dredger’ of Alaska Gold Forum in New
invented by Thomas Ainlay of Nebraska and patented in South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand suggest
1928 and 1932 (US #1,658,874 and #1,853,249). Knudsen bowls lose about 20% gold, mainly invisible fine
The Knudsen bowl has particular advantages: gold whose recovery can be much improved by:
² bowl of non-magnetizable material e.g. aluminium: ² using a binocular microscope to detect and monitor fine gold;
² resistant to wear, and easily, completely and quickly cleaned; ² screening the feed at minus 250 mesh (e.g. a second pass);
² tough rubber riffles as liner, easily and quickly removed; and ² adding 2 variable speed v-belt pulleys, with lockable lever
² separation helped by “…agitation resulting from the wobbling speed control, enabling precise adjustment of the bowl’s rpm;
action of the bowl and by the kneading action of the soft ² ensuring a person watches the feed rate;
flexible rubber ribs of the riffle member”. ² attaching a good small test sluice to the outlet of the bowl;
The Knudsen bowl is typically 12 to 36-inch in
² checking tailings with a x40 to x80 binocular microscope; and
² cleaning the bowl regularly.
diameter and mounted on a vertical drive shaft. The wall
slopes outward to create a gradient of g forces increasing Adoption by placer gold miners
upwards, inducing the slurry to climb the wall.
The Knudsen bowl was used worldwide, notably in
The need for fine pre-screening makes the Knudsen
North America and New Zealand, and copycats in Africa
bowl unsuitable for wash-plants, but it has merit for
and South America. The Knudsen survives being rugged,
upgrading if two or even three bowls are put in series.
easy to use, cheap, durable and ease of adding mercury.

Figure 36. GOLD RECOVERY BY KNUDSEN BOWL – Alaska tests


The Knudsen bowl recovers 100% of gold >0.2mm, plummeting to 70% for 100μ gold, according to Alaska tests [57,58]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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47: Kelsey centrifugal jig – 1980s research in Australia


Operation
The slurry feed is 25-40% solids and enters a
chamber consisting of a circular screen mounted vertically,
plus a particle bed. The chamber rotates at 30-45 rpm to
create a force of up to 50g. Water injected into the inner
chamber subjects the slurry to a jig-like pulsation force to
alternately expand and compress the particle bed. This
stimulates denser minerals to move towards the bed and
so be collected after passing through the screen into an
inner chamber and discharged via small holes. Lighter
particles overflow the chamber as tailings.
According to the maker, “the ability to change the
apparent gravitational field, up to 50 times gravity, results
Figure 101. KELSEY CENTRIFUGAL JIG in a major improvement in separation efficiency,
A model J1800 Kelsey centrifugal jig. (photo: courtesy of Dale particularly of very fine minerals, by significantly reducing
Henderson of makers Roche Mining – www.rochemt.com.au)
the effect of forces that hinder fine particle separation.”
The Kelsey centrifugal jig was invented by
Hindered settling is accentuated by the centrifugal
Christopher G. Kelsey of Australia and patented in
force together with the pulsing of the ragging bed. The
Australia in 1985 (PH9037, PG0122) and 1990 in the USA
pulsing is via pulse arms connected to pads to work
(US #4,898,666). The first commercial sale was of a lab-
against the jig’s flexible diaphragm. “Water contained
sized machine in 1989. Geo Logics Inc developed the
within the concentrate hutches presses against the
device, and automatic screen cleaning was introduced in
diaphragm, at a frequency and amplitude set by the
1999. In 2001 Geo Logics was bought by Roche Mining
operator, thus dilating the ragging bed. The level of
who continues to make the jig (www.rochemt.com.au).
dilation impacts on the amount of material able to pass to
The Kelsey centrifugal jig maximises its effectiveness
concentrate.” The pulsed shockwaves have two effects:
and efficiency by combining the pulsation principle of a jig ² dilating the ragging bed to allow minerals to enter it; and
with the high apparent gravitational field of a centrifuge. ² accentuating differences in acceleration between particles of
The main models and operating variables are: different density. Separation of particles of similar size and
² J200 KCJ – lab test unit, 15-100 kg/hour of solids; shape but different density slows at their terminal velocity.
² J1300 MkII KCJ – smallest commercial unit, 2-30 tons/hour; The shockwaves repeatedly stop the particles, limiting their
² J1800 KCJ – largest commercial unit, 5-60 tons/hour. time at terminal velocity to maintain a high rate of separation.
² feed-related variables – feed type; feed density; feed rate;
feed size; and density difference between minerals. Adoption by placer gold miners
² jig set-up variables – screen aperture size; ragging type,
ragging density, ragging size distribution and depth.
The Kelsey centrifugal jig is used to recover hardrock
² jig control variables – rotational speed (induced gravity field); gold, platinum, cassiterite, monazite sand, coal etc [117-
pulsing frequency; pulse amplitude (distance travelled during 122]. It performed well with fine flat placer gold from
each pulse stroke); and rate of adding hutch water. offshore Alaska [122] but is not seen in placer gold mines.

Figure 102. GOLD RECOVERY BY KELSEY CENTRIFUGAL JIG


Recovery of placer gold by Kelsey centrifugal jig, according to the patent and test on Alaska Gulf placers [122]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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60: GekkoTM in-line pressure jig – 1990s research in Australia


Operation
The maximum feed for a standard IPJ is 25mm –
remarkably large. The slurry is pumped along a feed pipe
into the top of the jig. Entering the distributor, the slurry
is turned around upwards to spread out in the
deceleration chamber. The jig is pressurised, sealed, and
completely filled with water and slurry. The lack of a water
surface is a deterrent to flour gold floating away.
The spreading motion, and unimpeded large circular
area available for it, causes the slurry to slow to a velocity
incapable of holding so much suspended solids. So the
‘heavies’ drop towards the jig bed and are trapped in the
Figure 125. GEKKOTM IN-LINE PRESSURE JIG separation interface on the top of the jig bed. The jig bed
A skid-mounted IPJ at a placer gold mine in Australia. (photo: is pulsed by a central drive shaft driven by the central
courtesy of Nigel Grigg of Gekko – www.gekkos.com) drive ram at the unit’s base. The pulsing achieves episodic
The GekkoTM in-line pressure jig (IPJ) was invented ‘quicksand’ (thixotropic) conditions.
by Alexander Gray of Victoria who was awarded patents in During the dilation phase, gold separation occurs by
1995 in Australia (AU #W095/26,232) and 2000 in the density, plus segregation by differences in size and shape.
USA (US #6,079,567). The innovation was intended for In the suction phase, heavies are drawn through the
recovery of low-grade high volume placer gold; later for ragging and screen to fall into the hutch – drawn off by a
hard rock grinding circuits [174-178]. spigot as a continuous discharge. Nuggets stay on the jig
A slurry pump drives the entire system. The screen awaiting batch discharge. The ragging is a 25mm
negligible pressure drop ensures a 15-metre head to thick carpet of lead shot covering the 2-3mm holes of the
pump tailings up to a settling area, and allows jigs to be jig screen. The IPJ 1500 uses about 200 kilos of lead shot
arranged in series if so desired. The IPJ has a moveable, and Gekko has begun making ‘synthetic’ ragging.
rather than fixed, jig screen. The operator can dictate the
height the jig bed rises and falls; and all particles are
Adoption by placer gold miners
raised to the same height regardless of particle density. Many IPJs are in hardrock gold mills. Placer applications
Jigging is a sawtooth pulse rather than simple pulse, and include tin (New South Wales) and diamonds onshore and
the operator can select the upstroke and downstroke offshore in Namibia and South Africa. About 20 are
speeds independently, as well as adjust the stroke installed at placer gold mines, in Australia, New Zealand,
duration via electronic control of the hydraulic drive. Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Guinea and Peru.
The jig is very compact, treating up to five times
more for same area of jig screen. The trommel or shaking
screen can be low as the slurry is lifted to the jig by slurry
pump. Water demand is lower than for most other jigs.

Figure 126. GOLD RECOVERY BY GEKKOTM IN-LINE PRESSURE JIG - generalised


Recovery of placer gold by Gekko in-line pressure jig, based on information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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42: Cleaveland jig and IHC jig – 1980s research in USA and Holland
Operation
Feed is screened to <12.5mm and pumped as slurry
to the narrow end of the primary jig bed of the IHC jig
plant. The trapezoidal shape of the jig bed widens towards
the tailings end to counteract and minimise the unwanted
acceleration in cross-flow typical of a normal type of jig.
The trapezoidal primary jigs can be clustered in a
compact 12-cell star with a single central feed – a major
advantage aboard large dredges. In land-based placer
gold mining, the optimum configurations are 1-cell, 2-cell
and 3-cell trapezoidal jigs otherwise the wash-plant is too
bulky and trucking placer becomes excessive [106]. When
integrated into a skid-mounted wash-plant the units are
semi-mobile [107,108].
The jig screen of the primary jig produces tailings of
Figure 92. IHC JIG PLANT <6mm that report as slurry to a “second stage”, a small
An IHC jig plant recovering fine gold in Sumatra, Indonesia. secondary jig who jig screen in turn produces tailings of
(photo: IHC Holland – www.ihcholland.com) <4mm that are recycled back to the primary jig. A “third
The Cleaveland jig was invented by Norman stage” is sometimes added to the series.
Cleaveland of New Mexico and patented in 1982 (US Coarse gold and nuggets remain on the jig screens
#4,310,413). The jig is an innovative circular jig intended for recovery as a batch discharge at clean-up, while small
for large tin dredges, a compact star-pattern of jigs with gold is produced as a continuous discharge with black
the slurry introduced at the centre [93]. sand via spigots at the bottom of the hutches of the jigs.
IHC Holland of the Netherlands and Alluvial Dredges
Ltd (ADL) of Scotland and Australia made Cleaveland-type
Adoption by placer gold miners
jigs. IHC made vast research into jigs led by the Mineral IHC trapezoidal jigs were installed on the Bema
Technological Institute (MTI) in the Netherlands [94-97]. Dredge, a famous bucket-line gold dredge off the coast of
IHC developed the Cleaveland jig further as a circular Alaska. Several winterised gold bucket-line dredges with
array of trapezoidal jigs with sawtooth jigging motion, a IHC jigs operated in NE China. IHC jig-plants of 1, 2 and
motion now emulated in most jigs. The short-lived fierce 3-modules were installed in placer gold mines in Alaska,
upward stroke prevents the loss of fine gold by Peru, Columbia, Ghana, Indonesia, Mongolia and
suppressing the phase of hindered settling is suppressed. elsewhere, gaining a reputation for recovering >90% of
IHC marketed its jigs for large tin dredges. After the tin moderately fine gold. Failure to gain wider popularity is
price collapsed, IHC marketed the ‘IHC trapezoidal jig’ for attributed to the high price, bulkiness, limited mobility,
recovery of placer gold, hardrock gold and diamonds on and low concentration ratio.
dredges, pontoons and dry land [98-105].

Figure 93. GOLD RECOVERY BY IHC TRAPEZOIDAL JIGS DERIVED FROM CLEAVELAND CIRCULAR JIGS
Placer gold recovery extrapolated from recovery of placer tin, as claimed in IHC technical literature. [96] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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14: Pan-American duplex jigs – Alaska tests


Operation
The upstroke of the rocker arm lifts the lower hutch
and compresses the diaphragm, forcing water up into the
upper hutch and up through the static screen to lift in the
ragging and its blanket of black sand, so fluidising the
sand into a thixotropic (‘loose’) state.
Less dense particles are flung up and swept away
with the tailings. Dense particles remain. Gold particles
burrow in the black sand down into the heavy ragging.
The downstroke extends the diaphragm, sucking
water down from the upper hutch and down through the
static screen to suck the ragging and its blanket of black
sand, compressing the black sand into a dilatant (‘hard-
packed’) state. Small gold is sucked down into the upper
Figure 33. PAN-AM DUPLEX JIGS hutch to fall and settle on the bottom of the lower hutch
A duplex of Pan-American jigs. (photo: courtesy of the for continuous discharge with black sand via a spigot.
manufacturer, Delta Mining & Manufacturing Co of Nashville, Gold particles too big to pass though the jig screen
Tennessee - www.graymfg.com/mineral.html)
remain stranded on the screen awaiting recovery when
In the early 1930s the engineers of the Bulolo Gold
jigging stops for cleaning the screen – a batch discharge.
Dredging Company designed the Pan-American placer jig
The upstroke of the lower hutch pushes more water
(Pan-Am jig) that is compact and tolerates wave motion in
through the screen than replaced in the downstroke –
small dredge ponds or even open sea. By the late 1930s
compensated by inlets injecting water in the upper hutch.
the Pan-Am jig was widely used on dredges for recovery
of alluvial cassiterite (SnO2 tin ore), gold and diamonds. Adoption by placer gold miners
The Pan-Am jig is a balanced pair of jig cells known
Pan-Am duplex jigs are fairly popular in many
as a duplex jig, saving 50% of energy in jigging. Each cell
regions, and can be seen in action in Alaska, Yukon, South
is underlain by a conical hutch of two parts joined by an
America, and Africa but are rare in Russia and Mongolia
annular diaphragm of flexible rubber to allow up-and-
.

Pan-Am duplex jigs are made in many regions, e.g.:


down oscillation of the lower hutch. Standard 42inch x ² USA – IRD of Carson City, Nevada
42inch cells (about 1m x 1m) have seven variables [56]: www.ird-jigs.com
² amount of ragging – typically 425lbs (193 kilos) per cell; ² USA – Delta Mining & Mnfr Co of Nashville, Tennessee
² type of ragging – typically 3/16 inch (4.75mm) steel shot; www.graymfg.com/mineral.html
² feed pulp density – 30% to 60% (w/w); ² USA – Goldfield Engineering Co, of Lindon, Utah
² feed rate – 20 yd3 to 30yd3 per hour (15 to 23m3 per hour); www.goldfieldeng.com
² Thailand – Dove Engineering
² hutch water added – 2.3 to 4.5m3 per hour per jig cell;
www.dovemining.com
² stroke length – ¾ inch to 1½ inch (19 to 38mm); and ² China – China National Gold Corporation (CNGC)
² stroke frequency – 120 to 200 cycles per minute. www.chinagold.org.placer.html

Figure 34. GOLD RECOVERY BY PAN-AMERICAN DUPLEX JIGS


Good recovery of gold by Pan-Am duplex jigs during tests by MIRL in Alaska [56]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

88
World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

68: tincture of iodine leaching – 2000s research in Japan


Iodine leaching had been widely used to recover gold
in the late 1800s and early 1900s, then dwindled with the
Operation
rise in popularity of cyanide leaching and mercury Tincture of iodine is obtained from a lab supplier.
amalgamation and the high cost of iodine. Advances prior If placer ore, the pay gravel is finely screened, the
to 2000 are dealt with in Section 4. coarse fraction being subjected to conventional
In the last 25 years much has been claimed about gravitational separation, the fine fraction being subjected
‘secret’ lixiviant formulations, and methods of precipitating to leaching. If hardrock, the ore is milled very finely
gold from streams and seawater – most is quackery. before being subjected to leaching
In contrast, the tincture method of iodine leaching is 1st stage – leaching gold into solution
fully explained, repeatable and verifiable, as invented in The fine ore is added to a little water in a tank and
2006 Hiroyasu Murakami and Y. Nakao of the National kept agitated by stirring. Tincture of iodine is stirred in,
Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and is dark brown due to the presence of I3- ions. These
(AIST) of Japan: ‘A trial of extracting gold from stream are an effective oxidant and in the presence of I- ions
sediment and high Au/Ag ore using halogen-containing reacts to form the stable gold-iodine complex:
organic system’ [40]. 2Au + 3I3-  2[AuI4]- + I-
To dissolve the gold, a halogen-containing organic Lab experiments show an hour is sufficient for the
system (HOS) is used, composed of iodine I2, sodium tincture of iodine to leach most of the gold – faster than
iodide NaI and ethanol C2H5OH, a mixture closely akin to cyanide can. Then dissolution declines and full leaching of
‘tincture of iodine’. Tincture of iodine is usually 10% gold from a saturated gold solution might take six hours.
elemental iodine in ethanol, and a component of
2nd stage – recovering gold from solution
emergency survival kits to disinfect wounds and to sanitize
To recover the dissolved gold from the pregnant
surface water for drinking.
solution, ascorbic acid is added to reduce the iodine:
To precipitate the gold from solution, ascorbic acid
I2 J 2I-
C6H8O6 is added – a chemical familiar as vitamin C. -
This reaction results in a deficiency in I3 causing the
Iodine being expensive, it is important to regenerate
tincture to lose its dark brown colour and become a poor
the tincture of iodine. Hydrogen peroxide H2O2 is added to
solvent. It is now possible to precipitate gold. Deposition
oxidise the iodide I- back to iodine I2. The regenerated
starts when the tank is diluted by about 70% water by
tincture of iodine can once again dissolve gold.
volume. The gold appears as colloidal gold and next as
The Japanese researchers recovered 79.9% gold
fine-grained particles. The gold is removed by filtration.
from a stream sediment sample, and 84% gold from a
hardrock sample in the Kitakami mountains of northern Adoption by placer gold miners
Japan.
It seems possible that tincture of iodine may become
popular among recreational and artisanal gold miners for
fine gold recovery.

Figure 141. GOLD RECOVERY BY TINCTURE OF IODINE LEACHING


Recovery of placer gold by tincture of iodine and vitamin C in tests by Hiroyasu Murakami and Y. Nakao [40]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

148
World Placer Journal – 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161. www.mine.mn

46: Mozley MGS centrifuge – 1980s research in Cornwall


Operation
The feed requires fine screening. The exact degree of
screening is unclear, but seems to be about 0.5mm.
The screened feed is prepared as slurry with 25 to
35% solids. The slurry is piped into the MGS centrifuge via
a tube. The slurry is decelerated by a circular device that
spreads the slurry across the internal wall of the cylinder.
Within the cylinder, a stratifying mechanism separates the
denser particles from the lighter particles.
By lowering or steepening the angle of inclination
(‘tilt’) of the centrifuge, the retention time of the slurry
can be increased or decreased accordingly, along with the
Figure 99. MOZLEY MGS CENTRIFUGE discharge rate of the concentrate. A differential scraper
Schematic cutaway diagram of an Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity mechanism enables a longer residence time for the slurry.
Separator MGS. (diagram: courtesy of Ian Daniels of the Additional cleaning water is added to assist the removal of
manufacturer Axsia Mozley Ltd - www.natcogroup.com)
slimes and enrichment of the concentrate.
The Mozley ‘Multi-Gravity Separator’ was invented by
The Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator is
Richard Mozley of Cornwall and patented in 1990 (US
manufactured in 3 models:
#4,964,845) after applying for a UK patent in 1986. ² MGS C900 – compact lab unit, 1 ton/hour of solids;
Today re-branded as the Axsia-Mozley MGS, the ² MGS C902 – medium-capacity, 3 tons/hour of solids;
device is manufactured by Axsia Mozley of Cornwall, part ² MGS MeGaSep™ – large-capacity, 30 tons/hour of solids.
of the NATCO Group of Houston USA. The larger MGS models have special features:
The Axsia-Mozley MGS combines the high apparent ² a proprietary gearbox drive that gives: improved reliability;
gravity of a centrifuge with the principle of a shaking table zero maintenance and sealed-for-life lubrication.
[113-116]. The device is a gently inclined cylinder that ² the MeGaSep has hydraulic fluid drive, remote power pack
and simple control technology.
rotates to create an apparent gravitational field of 8g to
22g. The cylinder also pulsates along its shaft in the Adoption by placer gold miners
manner of a shaking table. The cylinder is lined with a few
special riffles. The Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator is being
Key advantages of the Axsia-Mozley MGS are: used for the separation of ores of gold, tantalum, tin, zinc,
² fine to ultra-fine separation (down to 2μ); copper, silver, lead and coal. However, the author has not
² better capacity than some other ultra-fine separators; seen any reports of the MGS being used in placer gold
² efficient use of energy; recovery.
² minimum maintenance or supervision; and
² requires no chemicals or physical reagents.

Figure 100. GOLD RECOVERY BY MOZLEY MGS CENTRIFUGE – generalised


Recovery of gold by the Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator, based on incomplete information [113-116]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

124
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