The Mineralogical Identification of Refractory Gold Ores by Means of the Selective Decomposition of Minerals

Van Deventer J S J,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1992
The first step in the design of a process to treat a possible economic precious metal deposit should be an examination of the mineralogy of the ore. Using this and other initial tests, the extractive metallurgist can design a process to treat the ore. In the field of precious metal metallurgy, little emphasis is placed on the mineralogical information available to the metallurgist. The information is of far more use to the geologist and the mining engineer. Diagnostic leaching was designed to open up the field of mineralogical analysis to the metallurgist. When a mineralogist looks at the deportment of gold in an ore, he is usually looking for an element which is present in parts per million, so that errors in sampling are multiplied dramatically. Diagnostic leaching offers a cheap, simple, practical alternative. In order to determine with which minerals the desired precious metal is associated, a specific mineral is first eliminated using a selective oxidative leach, and cyanidation is used to extract the precious metal (in this case gold and silver) liberated by the destruction of this mineral. The precious metal extracted can be measured in solution to give a fairly accurate record of the amount of the precious metal associated with that mineral. Furthermore, the residue from this first stage can be subjected to another selective acid leach, and the process repeated. The procedure can be varied to suit the mineralogy of the matrix material. At the end of this diagnostic leach the metallurgist is left with a complete record of the deportment of the precious metal. He can now use this information to design a metallurgical flowsheet to treat the ore. Diagnostic leaching is thus an analytical tool which can be used by the metallurgist not only to examine new ores, but also to look at problems occurring at existing plants. The procedure is not only limited to ores and residues but in fact can deal with any type of intermediary product that occurs on a plant. The information gained from analysing an intermediary product can give a useful indication of how well a unit process is working, eg flotation, roasting, etc.
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