Novel Processes for the Treatment of Sulphidic Refractory Gold Concentrates

Smith T, ; Bourne R W,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
This paper presents initial findings of a project examining novel processes for the treatment of refractory sulphidic gold concentrates. Non-oxidative roasting of such concentrates for 12 hours at 750¦C resulted in the finely disseminated gold agglomerating to form discrete grains. The pyrite and arsenopyrite decomposed to form pyrrhotite, whilst the labile sulphur and arsenic driven off was collected on a condenser as a mixture of elemental sulphur, metallic arsenic and various arseneous sulphide compounds. As a result, the cyanide solubility of the gold contained in sulphidic refractory gold concentrate from the Emperor mine in Fiji improved from 54.5 per cent to 98.4 per cent; from the Fimiston mine in WA (65.2 per cent to 96.6 per cent), from the Windarra mine in WA (69.6 per cent to 91.3 per cent), from the Harbor Lights mine in WA (20.4 per cent to 60.7 per cent), and from the Wiluna mine in WA (12.6 per cent to 28.0 per cent). The non-oxidative roasting conditions have not been optimised for each of these minerals. Subjecting the non-oxidatively roasted minerals to mild oxidative acidic iron sulphate pressure leaching (with typical temperature of 100¦C and typical oxygen overpressure of 500 kPa) to remove iron and so further liberate finely disseminated gold, resulted in the cyanide solubility of the gold exceeding 96 per cent for each of these five concentrate types (including those from Harbor Lights and Wiluna). Thiourea leaching of the sulphur-rich residues under acidic conditions resulted in remarkably high gold extractions being achieved. These novel processing options need to be optimised, and their economic viability established.
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