Modeling of natural cyanide attenuation in tailings impoundments

Botz, M. M. ; Mudder, T. I.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Cyanidation tailings disposed of in a surface impoundment experience a loss of cyanide due to natural attenuation, which frequently reduces the cyanide concentration to very low levels. Quantifying cyanide losses in terms of impoundment geometry, local weather conditions and feed-solution chemistry has been largely empirical in spite of the fact that, in many cases, mining operations rely on surface impoundments to reduce cyanide to below an internally regulated concentration or below an effluent limitation. To permit a quantitative evaluation of cyanide losses in an impoundment, a computer simulation was developed to estimate the losses of free, weak acid dissociable (WAD) and total cyanide due to dissociation, photolysis and volatilization. Results of the model are compared with data collected for a North American tailings impoundment in 1998.
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