MINATAUR?: The Mintek Alternative Technology To Gold Refining
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2004
Mintek developed the MinataurTM leach-solvent extraction-precipitation technology as a cost effective, easily operated alternative to conventional gold refining processes. The technology was first commercialized at the Harmony Gold Refinery in 1997 to produce 99.99 per cent gold product and has subsequently led to development of various value-addition steps including the casting of various investment bars, gold wire drawing and gold potassium cyanide powder production. In addition to refining gold to high purity, if an appreciable amount of silver is present in the feed material it is also refined to 99.99 per cent purity. The major advantage that the Minataur? technology has over other gold refining processes is the relatively low gold lock-up and reduced operating costs. The operating cost1as at April 2001 for the expanded Harmony refinery (24-ton per annum gold production) was approximately half that of conventional smelting and toll refining. The extractant employed for solvent extraction is relatively cheap and highly selective for gold, making the technology attractive in situations where significant quantities of platinum group metals or base metals are present.