The Role of Cyanide in the Elution of Gold from Activated Carbon

Van Der P F, ; Lorenzen L,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1992
It is the aim of this paper to review recent research in understanding the role of cyanide in the elution of gold. Under conditions of severe pre-treatment (high temperatures and levels of cyanide), the dynamics of elution are determined mainly by the adsorption equilibrium and the flow conditions in the column. When conditions are less favourable for desorption, transport phenomena are rate controlling. The most important sub-processes of elution are the changes in cyanide, potassium and gold concentrations, as well as the change in passivation of the carbon surface. Mathematical models to simulate the various sub-processes are described briefly.The presence of an irreversibly adsorbed species such as AuCN on the carbon is determined mainly by the pH, temperature and the type of carbon. Cyanide in the pre-treatment step will convert the AuCN to reversibly adsorbed Au(CN)2. Competition between cyanide and Au(CN)z for adsorption sites will enhance the elution of gold, but plays a minor role at elevated temperatures. The most important effect of cyanide is its reaction with the functional groups on the carbon to passivate the surface for the adsorption of anionic metal cyanides and thereby promote the elution of gold. This passivation, caused by the degradation of cyanide, is strongly temperature dependent. Free cyanide in the elution step of an AARL elution is of lesser importance than the cyanide in the pre-treatment step. Elution without cyanide is possible only after cold acid washing, and has been proven on plant scale.
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