CSIRO goes for gold — the environmentally friendly way
Austalia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has developed a sustainable, environmentally friendly process technology for recovering gold. The ‘Going for Gold’ process technology replaces cyanide with a reagent, known as thiosulphate, creating a relatively cost-effective, non-toxic and safe alternative to the conventional cyanide-based gold recovery process.
CSIRO Research Program Leader Dr Chris Vernon believes the technology not only overcomes a significant environmental hazard, but also opens the door for Australian and international gold miners and end users to capitalise on demand for sustainable processes and products.
“Cyanide is used in about 75% of global gold production and, while the industry works to manage the associated risks, there have been recent toxic spills overseas that have caused great concern to communities,” Dr Vernon said.
“Developing an alternative process, which eliminates hazardous chemicals while maximising gold recovery, meets industry and consumer demands for more sustainably produced gold.”
Following successful industry trials, the technology will be transferred to Australian company Clean Mining, which will deliver the new technology solution to a global market of gold producers, offering technology products and licences as well as turnkey processing plant options, plus equipment and product support throughout the life of the mines.
Clean Mining Managing Director Jeff McCulloch said the technology is suitable for new greenfields mines, locations where cyanide cannot be used or is banned, as well as in existing mines looking to upgrade and transition to the new technology.
“This technology provides gold miners with an opportunity to proactively evolve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards,” McCulloch said.
“This new technology literally delivers a new gold standard for the global gold industry. The technology is scalable and cost-effective, and the process has been tested and proven at an industrial scale to deliver commercially viable results.”
Clean Mining is currently in negotiations with ICA Mining Services in the Northern Territory to commission the first commercial plant to process gold using this technology, and with Nu-Fortune Gold to commission a plant in the Goldfields of Western Australia.
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