BIOMIN South Africa today announced that it has successfully concluded development of its third generation BIOX® design resulting in a bio-oxidation gold refractory solution that is more robust than previously believed, making it a safe and convenient alternative to other refractory ore body extraction processes.

“We continue to be encouraged by the positive results that our bio-oxidation technology BIOX® demonstrates – even under previously un-tested conditions, the bacteria we use to extract refractory gold from ore continues to thrive,” says Biomin Managing Director, Jan van Niekerk.

The BIOMIN BIOX® process

The BIOX® process is becoming an increasingly popular technology among global gold producers due to its safe and easy-to-operate nature and minimal staff requirement, its continued ability to operate in both hot and cold climates, as well as its relative low-cost and decreased environmental waste impact.

“Compared to other methods of refractory gold extraction, we believe BIOX® to be by far the safest and most efficient solution to recover gold in an environmentally friendly manner,” van Niekerk says.

The BIOMIN BIOX® at work

The BIOX® plant at Pan African ResourcesFairview mine in Barberton South Africa has been a successful operation for both BIOMIN and its client and has maintained a steady increase in gold production levels in line with the mine’s increased capacity, since the plant was built nearly 25 years ago.

Pan African Resources Metallurgy Manager at Barberton Mines Ltd’s Fairview Gold Mine Jonathan Irons has been closely observing the evolution of the BIOX® technology and agrees with van Niekerk that BIOX® is a safer process than other refractory processing technologies. He adds that one particularly attractive feature of the BIOX® technology is the ease-of-operation.

“BIOX® is user friendly compared to other refractory treatment processes,” Irons says, adding that in order to operate the Biomin BIOX® technology only basic technical skills are required.

“At operational level, a grade 12 (senior school), a certificated employee with school-level Maths & Science is all that is required,” Irons says, adding however that the supervisory level requires a skilled metallurgist – as would be found on any mine of this nature.

Maintaining the BIOMIN BIOX®

Irons likened the maintenance of the BIOX® bacterial process to that of caring for any living organism: “The bacteria used in this process operate similarly to humans in that they work best when they are comfortable. We’ve found that the BIOX® bacteria operate best within a controlled temperature range at around 42 degrees Celsius but as long as the bacteria’s environment can be maintained at a fairly consistent level, there is little risk to the effectiveness of the technology.”

The bacteria used in the BIOX® technology requires simple nutrient additives and Irons says that as long as the bacteria receive the required nutrients and maintain a stable diet they will continue to thrive.

BIOMIN’s ASTER™ water treatment technology

Fairview has also invested in BIOMIN’s ASTER™ water treatment technology which uses patented bio-technology in order to destroy thyocianate and cyanide in water used in the gold extraction process.

“This has resulted in significant cost savings and a significantly decreased impact on the environment due to the lower levels of cyanide produced as a result of the extraction process,” Irons says.

Irons encourages other gold producers, to consider the feasibility of using BIOMIN technology’s solutions when considering gold refractory processing options.

Van Niekerk believes that Barberton Mines Ltd’s Fairview Gold Mine is a good example of the successful implementation of the BIOX® and ASTER™ technologies and says he looks forward to the future relationship between Barberton Gold Mines and BIOMIN.

“As with all our clients, BIOMIN strives to ensure that our technology is constantly being evolved in order to ensure continued cost-benefits and improved efficiencies for our client’s plants. BIOMIN offers an exciting and dynamic alternative to gold processing solutions and we are grateful to have partners such as Pan African Resources to work with us further developing our offering,” van Niekerk says.

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