Gold
Clean Mining MD, Jeff McCulloch

New technology that delivers commercial-scale, cyanide-free gold processing has been released by Clean Mining.

The company works to transform gold production worldwide in an environmentally responsible manner.

The innovative, cost-effective process replaces cyanide with a safer, less hazardous chemical reagent, thiosulphate. This inorganic compound helps dissolve fine gold out of ores into a solution, which can then be recovered through further processing.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 8, 2019
Read the full digimag here or subscribe to receive a print copy here

The new technology was developed over more than a decade by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and trialled in Australia in 2018 with Clean Mining’s parent company – Eco Minerals Research.

The trial proved a thiosulphate solution could extract gold from ore at an industrial scale.

Following this success, Clean Mining negotiated exclusive rights to sell and distribute new cyanide-free gold processing technology worldwide.

Read more about gold

Clean Mining MD, Jeff McCulloch, says the deal now allows Clean Mining to launch the new technology solution and begin its global sales and distribution programme.

“The world has been waiting for a cost-effective, non-toxic solution to gold processing and Clean Mining now offers that solution.”

Currently, around 75% of gold extracted from ore is processed using the hazardous chemicals of cyanide or mercury, which are toxic to humans and the environment.

These chemicals are often contained in large storage tanks and, once used, expelled into large tailing dams that can potentially leach into the local surrounds or, worse, burst as we’ve seen in recent years in Brazil and Canada.

“Eliminating cyanide and the associated tailing dams from the gold recovery process is a game-changer for the sector and, importantly, for the communities where gold miners operate,” McCulloch notes.

Clean Mining will initially target small to mid-scale miners who can benefit from the cost-effective leaching ore processing solution, which includes a plug-and-play plant that can be customised and scaled to meet individual needs.

Read more about the environment

“We have already had interest from miners keen to unlock previously uneconomic or stranded deposits, as the solution does not require financial investment in a large-scale plant and it also mitigates hazardous chemical risks,” McCulloch highlights.

“Our observation is that consumers are demanding ethically produced gold that minimises impact to the environment, is free from human harm, exploitation and conflict, and can be tracked from mine to refiner to consumer.”

The new technology is suitable for new Greenfields mines, locations where cyanide cannot be used or is banned, as well as in existing mines looking to upgrade and transition to the new technology.

“Clean Mining also offers a solution for large-scale gold miners using cyanide that aspire for greater levels of environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards,” McCulloch notes.

“Our technology enables all miners to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, which – put simply – is ‘the right thing to do’. “We don’t accept the argument that because cyanide has been used for so long that it’s safe – that’s complacency and doesn’t cut it with consumers, particularly the Millennial generation.”

“Clean Mining aims to influence shareholders, investment funds, governments, regulators, environmental organisations, local communities and gold consumers to get on board and do the right thing for the planet by eliminating cyanide and mercury from the gold production process.

"We have a mission to encourage responsible and ethical mining and Clean Mining now offers a safe alternative to achieve that.”