Our cost-effective and cyanide-free gold recovery process ‘Going for Gold’ is being demonstrated in partnership with industry. The solution provides a safe, environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional processes and could help turn many of Australia's stranded gold deposits into production.

The challenge

Conventional gold processes rely on cyanidation

New processes like Going for Gold can help to improve environmental outcomes for the mining industry  ©Bigstock®

There are several environmental and economic challenges with processing gold using the conventional 'cyanidation' technique that have left known gold deposits stranded.

The infrastructure for a processing plant that uses cyanidation typically costs $30 million, and is therefore, a barrier to entry for gold miners with smaller deposits that do not fit into the large-scale economies of gold production.

Gold recovery by cyanidation is also of environmental and safety concern as it relies on the use of toxic cyanide.

Around the world, government regulations are becoming increasingly stringent on use of cyanide in gold processing. It has already been banned or restricted in several Australian states and territories, including Victoria and the Northern Territory, as well as some US states.

Cost-effective gold recovery alternatives are needed to address barriers to entry for small producers and new government regulations.

Our response

A cyanide- and mercury-free alternative reagent and flowsheet

We have developed a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly gold recovery process called 'Going for Gold'.

Paul Breur leads the CSIRO team developing Going for Gold  ©Â©damiensmithphotography_2017

The solution replaces cyanide with a safe, alternative reagent known as thiosulphate. Thiosulphate dissolves the fine gold out of ores (the gold that has not recovered by gravity) at similar rates to conventional techniques. It's safe and lowers environmental impacts.

The method has undergone intensive testing in the laboratory to understand its leaching performance in association with reagent recovery and recycle. Results indicate it can be applied to a range of ore types.

The Going for Gold process requires some additional 'off-the-shelf' components and a new configuration, but is not complex and can be customised to deal with different ore types.

It could allow small gold producers to mine low-grade, uneconomic or stranded gold deposits, as well as gold reserves in jurisdictions where cyanide-use is banned or restricted.

The results

Partnering with industry to demonstrate the solution at scale

We've partnered with small gold producer, Nu-Fortune Gold, to build a gold processing demonstration plant in Menzies, Western Australia.

Early involvement from Nu-Fortune Gold is ensuring the developed process is robust and practical for commercial operations.

The plant aims to demonstrate the Going for Gold process at scale and show that it can economically recover gold.

The CSIRO team developed a similar cyanide-free solution that was successfully tailored to Barrick Gold's Goldstrike Mine in 2014.

The $2.1 million project to construct, commission and operate the demonstration plant in 20-17-18 is being supported by an $860,000 grant from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.

Other early adopters keen to know more or work with us on demonstrating the technology, are encouraged to get in contact.

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