You are on page 1of 21

DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS. CYANIDATION: dissolving the ore containing precious metal in usually 0.

05% cyanide solution to what is called the pregnant solution


GOLD RECOVERY: extraction of gold from it ore ELECTROWINNING: extraction of a precious mineral from it leach solution by electrolysis.

ELECTROPLATING: coating the surface of cathode electrode by metal of interest

BRIEF HISTORY The history of gold extraction was revolutionalised by the discovery and development of cyanidation process towards the end of the 19th century, zinc precipitation followed suit where zinc dust was used to precipitate gold from solution The second half of the 20th century experienced the use of carbon-in-pulp technology and heap leaching .

The last 20 or so years have seen the commercial application of pressure and biological oxidation and increased use of resins for gold adsorption. However zinc precipitation and electrowinning have remained the earliest methods of gold recovery and improved methods that have been discovered and still find very important use in the gold mining industry.

Gold mining operators treat their ore by cyanidation and precious metals are recovered from the pregnant solution by Zinc Dust (Merril Crow process) and electro winning. The discovery that gold was soluble in weak solutions of potassium cyanide (mid 19th century) presented a major tool to gold miners, who could now dissolve the gold in the ore and discard the waste rock.

Modern cyanide plants typically use a cyanide solution of 0.05% NaCN to dissolve gold from the ore. Following the discovery of golds solubility in cyanide, it was discovered that passing the gold dissolved in cyanide solution through chips of zinc caused a gold to precipitate. Early zinc precipitation systems simply used a wooden box filled with zinc chips. These systems worked, however, they were very inefficient, since much of the dissolved gold still remained in solution after passing through the zinc box.

Once the gold has been dissolved in the cyanide, and the ore body has been reasonably depleted of its gold, there are two main processes for recovering the gold from the pregnant cyanide solution. One is the Merrill-Crow zinc precipitation process and the other is the adsorption of the gold onto activated carbon The Merrill-Crow process was the first use of the zinc precipitation process that made the use of zinc a highly efficient gold recovery process Gold can be recovered from solution by electrolysis, a process that is known in the extractive metallurgy industry as electrowinning

. An electrowinning unit consists of a rectifier and a reaction chamber that houses anodes and cathodes. In the simplest design, a set of cathodes and anodes are set in the reaction chamber containing the electrolyte. When two electrodes (cathode and anode) are placed in a solution containing metal ions and an electric current is passed between them, the metal can be deposited on the negative electrode. In the recovery of most metals, oxygen is evolved from water at the positive electrode

An electrolyte, and a current density, is generally chosen that gives a dense, compact electrodeposits, and some additives could be included in the electrolyte to further improve product quality.ie add a catalyst The original process of electrolytic refining was developed by Dr Emil Wohlwill in the late nineteenth century. His process is based on the solubility of gold but the insolubility of silver, in an electrolyte solution of gold chloride (AuCl3(s) in hydrochloric acid.

The main idea of the electrolytic cell design is related to determine the optimum current required to deposit gold on cathodes All electrowinning cells with pervious, packed bed cathodes can be divided into two groups, those that operate with flow of the electrolyte at a right angle the current flow, and those that operate with parallel solution and current flows. Usually cathodes are of steel wool and anodes of stainless steel

. Its possible for 2 kg of gold to be deposited onto 0.5 kg of steel wool in each cathode compartment before the cells current efficiency drops or the cathode becomes blocked by the gold deposit The loaded cathodes are calcined at 7000C for 20 hours. The calcine mixed with 40% borax, 30% sodium carbonate, and 25% silica is melted at 3000C.

Reaction invovled: Cathode Reduction of gold: Au+(aq) + e-Au(s) Anode Oxidation of oxygen: O2-(aq)1/2 O2(g)+ 2e

The gold laden cathodes are washed, dried, and smelted or treated with acid to remove the excess of iron and then smelted. Hence, iron slag with a high gold content is ground and gravity enriched, and the gravity tails are recycled into the mill.

Once the gold has been dissolved in the cyanide, and the ore body has been reasonably depleted of its gold, there are two main processes for recovering the gold from the pregnant cyanide solution. One is the Merrill-Crowe zinc precipitation process and the other is the adsorption of the gold onto activated carbon.

The Zn precipitation is first preceded by removal of oxygen from the solution, then mixing this solution with very fine zinc powder thus increased surface area hence high chance of precipitating and recovery of the very fine gold. This precipitate is then filtered over(200 mesh). A 200-mesh screen has 200 openings per inch aiding the recovery of the very fine gold precipitate on a pre-coat filter, since the gold precipitate is very fine, ranging from a few microns to 50 or so microns. The zinc reacts with the cyanide: 2Au(CN) 2- (aq) + Zn(s) Zn(CN)42-(aq) + 2Au(s)

A fine zinc dust is added to the cyanide-gold solution. The zinc has a greater affinity for the cyanide and reacts with it, leaving the gold behind as a precipitate

ELECTROWINNING More costly since electric current is involved Gold ion is reduced to form gold metal by electrolysis

ZINC PRECIPITATION No electric current involved

Gold ion is reduced to form gold metal by precipitation

Relatively higher maximum recovery High yield recovery grade of gold yield

Even

though both method will yield reasonable amount of gold, we will recommend electro winning . Base on health concern. More purified gold since it is relatively more efficient

1.

2.

Mineral Processing Technology An Introduction to the Practical Aspects of Ore Treatment and Mineral Recovery, by Barry A.

Wills, Tim Napier-Munn

Marsden House J. Marsden and I. House, The Chemistry of Gold Extraction, Ellis Horwood, New York (1992)

www.sciencedirect-mineral engineering www.wikipedia.com. Search gold extraction

WEMEGAH JOSHUA HUSEINATU OSMAN ARIMIYAW WUSAMA ESSAH BRUCE ALHASSAN IBRAHIM ANTWI SAMUEL KWAKU SACKEY JESSE JOSHUA AHMED LUKMAN NBANG-BA

THANK YOU