Gold Leaching with Organic Nitriles

Sandgren, K. R. ; Fuerstenau, M. C. ; Murphy, J. E. ; Wan, R. Y.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1993
As part of a U.S. Bureau of Mines program to evaluate alternatives to sodium cyanide in gold leaching, three organic nitrile compounds were tested for their effectiveness as gold lixiviante. The organic compounds examined were malononitrile, acetonitrile, and cyanoacetamide. The reagents were tested on an oxide ore, two carbonaceous ores, and a eulfidic ore. Acetonitrile and cyanoacetamide were shown to be ineffective gold leachante. Malononitrile was the most successful of the organic lixiviants. On an oxide ore, malononitrile performed shilarlyto sodium cyanide with extractions of around 80 pct. For carbonaceous "preg-robbing" oree, sodium cyanide was completely ineffective while malononitrile extracted 24 pct of the gold. When using a resin-in-leach technique, extraction with sodium cyanide increased to 60 pct and the extraction with malononitrile increased to 80 pct. On the sulfide ore, sodium cyanide and malononitrile performed similarly with 80+ pct extraction as long as the pH of the malononitrile solution wae maintained above 10.5. Malononitrile is six times less toxic than sodium cyanide as measured by LD, levels. Therefore, malononitrile has a significant advantage over eodium cyanide, but its high cost and undemonstrated usefulnees make it unlikely to gain acceptance.
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