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Ore characterization, hydrometallurgical and reactive transport studies for in-place leaching of oxidized gold deposits

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2010, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 72-80

Roberts, P.A.; Zhang, H.; Prommer, H.; Benvie, B.; Jeffrey, M.I.; Johnson, C.D.; Anand, R.R.


A proposal for a modified in situ leaching method for extracting gold from oxidized gold ores using a non-cyanide lixiviant is described. A non-cyanide lixiviant is suggested because of the obvious concerns posed by injecting cyanide-bearing solutions into the subsurface. Oxidized gold ores were chosen as a focus because earlier research on the use of sodium thiosulfate as a lixiviant under anaerobic conditions indicated that the presence of pyrite led to rapid thiosulfate breakdown. A reconnaissance research program involving ore characterization and hydrometallurgical test work on samples from four Australian ore deposits and preliminary reactive transport modeling studies was carried out. This work showed that lixiviant-oxidant combinations of sodium thiosulfate and ferric EDTA and iodide and iodine are both capable of extracting high percentages of accessible gold from the selected samples in bottle roll tests under anaerobic conditions. The ore characterization and reactive transport studies suggested that both physical and chemical methods of permeability enhancement may be required to lift bulk permeability and the availability of gold for dissolution to sufficiently high levels to obtain adequate gold recoveries. Assuming that such methods prove to be both necessary and economically viable, the mining method would no longer be regarded as simple in situ leaching. Therefore, the term “in-place leaching” has been adopted for the proposed gold extraction system.