- Costly in a financial and environmental sense, the use of cyanide in gold extraction remains a health hazard and a hindrance in the pursuit of mining “cleaner” precious metals
- This makes gold extracted with cyanide much less compliant with modern environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards that are increasingly important to investors and consumers
- The highly toxic chemical allows miners to extract gold from low grade ore, but the process comes with significant health and environmental risks
- Clean Earth Technologies partners with Nu Fortune Gold to build a next generation clean gold producer
- Nu Fortune Gold proposes to list on the ASX in 2022
Costly in a financial and environmental sense, the use of cyanide in gold extraction has long remained a firm obstacle in the pursuit of mining “cleaner” precious metals.
This makes gold extracted with cyanide much less compliant with modern environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, which are becoming increasingly important to consumers.
In conventional gold mining, cyanide is used to seperate gold from ore in a process known as leaching.
Leaching allows operators to extract gold from lower grade ore in mines that may have otherwise been abandoned.
However the process has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
Environmental groups are generally opposed to cyanide gold mining. They claim the chemical’s high toxicity presents health risks for humans and harm to the environment, especially if contaminates a water supply or agricultural land.
Agencies in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Costa Rica have already banned the use of cyanide in mining, with multiple Argentinian provinces and the US states of Montana and Wisconsin following suit.
As pressures on mining companies to address their impacts on the environment mount, the race to find less harmful gold extraction processes has intensified.
Recent developments on this front include a research paper published by Curtin University researchers Jacques Eksteen and Elsayed Oraby, who proposed potassium permanganate and glycine could offer an alternative to conventional cyanide leaching.
Private company Clean Mining, part of the Singapore-based consultant Clean Earth Technologies group, is also tackling this issue and seeking to eventually commercialise its non-toxic gold recovery solution.
The company recently announced a partnership with Nu Fortune Gold, through which it hopes to coin itself as Australia’s first clean gold producer.
The companies have previously collaborated to develop non-toxic gold extraction methods with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO. The companies said the new method had been demonstrated at a pilot plant.
Based on what the companies said was a success on multiple levels, including recovery at scale and cost enhancement, Clean Mining and NuFortune Gold signed a commercial agreement.
Nu Fortune has now laid plans to use this gold recovery solution during its production scheduled for 2022 as it works to process 500,000 tonnes of ore per annum.
Clean Mining said it has been “inundated” since the 2019 launch of its solution, which aims to dissolves gold in a non-toxic re-agent to eliminate toxic slurry typically left over in cyanide extraction.
Clean Earth Technologies Chief Executive Officer Kevin Fell said the partnership marked the first step towards large-scale clean gold production.
“Having spent considerable time assessing the competitive landscape, I believe our data shows Clean Mining’s non-toxic gold recovery solution is the best alternative for these mines to re-enter or commence production,” Mr Fell said.
The company estimates it has completed 150 tests on a “wide range” of ore types and believes its technology is suitable for all gold mining operations.
“The results have been extremely positive and showed that we have a genuine solution to replace toxic practices within the gold mining industry with our analysis to-date highlighting that we are more cost effective over the full life cycle of a mine,” Mr Fell explained.
“Clean Mining is looking forward to further progress and announcements from its clients in South America, Europe, and the Middle East.”
Nu Fortune Gold has submitted its application to list on the ASX in 2022.