Cyanide Control In The Metallurgical Process Of Gold Extraction In AngloGold (S.A.)

Vorster, B. J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
AngloGold South Africa region currently consists of twelve gold plants. These plants use a combined total of $20 million of cyanide per annum. Of this, the major portion (60%) is consumed at two Ergo dump retreatment plants. Historically the primary motivation for cyanide control at Ergo has been one of leach/cost optimization. However, more recently, with the increased public awareness of cyanide in the environment, a secondary but increasingly important motivation for control has been to ensure that only the minimum amount of cyanide is added to the process whilst not compromising leach performance. Following a brief overview of the Ergo process, the methodology in determining the amount of cyanide to be added is described. The paper then traces the developments in cyanide control from very basic manual systems to the current automated control system. In line with the increasingly sophisticated control systems, developments also took place in regards to the method of cyanide analysis. The development of these analysers is also discussed. Whilst cyanide is one of the major drivers, if not the major driver of gold dissolution, it cannot be viewed in isolation particularly with respect to the relationship between cyanide and oxygen as ascertained from the Elsner?s well-known equation. Consequently, in order to control cyanide addition, knowledge of the relative cyanide/oxygen profiles is necessary. Various means investigated at Ergo for pulp oxygenation have therefore been included for the sake of completeness. Finally a comparison is made of the control achieved from the current system compared to the original manual system. The knowledge and experience gained at Ergo is now being used to draw up guidelines for the installation and optimization work at the other AngloGold plants. The net effect of this will be reduced cyanide consumption for the region, which also, apart from the obvious economic benefit, translates into a reduced environ-mental risk.
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