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Sodium Cyanide Best Option for Gold Extraction

Jeff Davis - Cyanco
President and CEO
Home > Mining > Insight

Sodium Cyanide Best Option for Gold Extraction

Carlos Flores - Cyanco
Vice-President for Latin America
Carlos Flores


Wed, 10/21/2015 - 14:27

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The use of sodium cyanide in the extraction of gold is one of the mining industry’s most commonly used processes, being relied on in more than 90% of mining operations around the world. Cyanide is the most efficient lixiviant for gold and silver extraction for virtually all mining applications, for low or high grade deposits. Cyanco, a Houston, Texasbased firm, is one of the major players seeking to extend the use of this compound in the Mexican market. As the largest producer of sodium cyanide in the world with a capacity of 165,000 metric tonnes a year, Cyanco has hit on the right combination to do just that, with a solution that reduces labor, increases safety, and improves costefficiency, according to its President and CEO, Jeff Davis. “The advantages of our sodium cyanide solution, at 30%, have been well demonstrated for over 25 years in the US and Canada. The lack of dissolving eliminates labor for unloading and reduces exposure to sodium cyanides dusts. Additionally, the delivery method of our solutions eliminates the need to worry about hazardous waste disposal for bag/box packaging. For mines located in water deficient regions, our aqueous solution minimizes a key driver of water consumption for the mine operators,” says Davis.

Beyond technological advantages, Cyanco also believes its market presence makes it the unbeatable choice to provide sodium cyanide to Mexico. “There are no domestic Mexican producers of sodium cyanide. That makes Cyanco’s two plants in the US the closest facilities to the Mexican market. We also have a dedicated terminal in Hermosillo and we are preparing to build another terminal in Zacatecas,” says Carlos Flores, Cyanco’s Vice-President for Latin America. “We are the largest global producer with four production lines across two world-class plants.” It can also deliver its products in a 30% aqueous solution in van trailers, ISO containers, or in boxes as a solid briquette form. Cyanco’s commitment goes beyond the production of sodium cyanide to cover accompanying services, such as helping to design leach circuits, cyanide control systems, cyanide destruction systems, and other processing solutions. Focused on the gold mining industry, Cyanco’s understanding of the services associated with sodium cyanide use has evolved through its global relationships with six of the world’s top ten gold mining companies and a number of successful juniors.

Perhaps the company’s biggest advantage is its Applied Technology Laboratory. This fully equipped lab in Reno allows Cyanco to test a variety of processes related to the detoxification of cyanide and offer customers the most cost-effective methods. “Many times, Cyanco advocates the implementation of cyanide control systems (CCS), as it leads to tighter control of cyanide concentrations and additions. It usually leads to a 5-10% reduction in actual NaCN intensity, requiring less cyanide to be destroyed later on,” says Flores. Other processes tested at the lab include SO2/AIR, Caro’s Acid, and Cyanco’s patented CombinOx®. Once a particular process is chosen, Cyanco can then implement a design engineering package for the specific application, assist with the circuit startup, arrange operator training, and provide continued support for the future.

A concern for the use of sodium cyanide in mining processes has been its safety, both for people and the environment. Toward this sensitivity, Davis responds that cyanide has been used safely for well over 100 years, without an accidental fatality ever reported in the US due to cyanide poisoning. Despite this, Cyanco is careful to minimize any danger of cyanide being discharged into surface and underground water sources by ensuring that it is properly contained and treated. “By providing the customer with the proper detoxification technology, we can assist in the mitigation of any adverse effects on the environment. We can assist our customers in employing accurate cyanide addition and control methods, reducing excess cyanide in the leach circuit, and reducing the cyanide that will need to be treated,” explains Flores.

Cyanco is also a founding signatory of the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC), an international organization aimed at improving the management of cyanide used in gold mining and assisting in the protection of human health and the reduction of environmental impacts. Regular ICMC audits of registered NaCN producers, transporters and mining consumers help ensure responsible handling

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