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Alternatives to cyanide in the gold mining industry: what prospects for the future?

by Gavin Hilson, A. J. Monhemius
Journal of Cleaner Production ()

Abstract

This paper reviews a series of alternative lixiviant systems for the recovery of gold from ores and concentrates. For over 100 years, cyanide has been the leach reagent of choice in gold mining because of its high gold recoveries, robustness and relatively low costs. The environmental damages resulting from its mismanagement, however, have initiated widespread research aimed at identifying and developing less toxic leaching agents. The most widely-researched alternative lixiviants for gold ores are examined in this paper, but it is evident that none has yet made any significant inroad into the dominant position of cyanide as the reagent of choice at the vast majority of gold mines worldwide. ?? 2005.

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