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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A survey of conventional and novel processes for the treatment of refractory gold Fairley, Lance Michael


This thesis is a survey of treatments for the recovery of gold from refractory ores. An elucidation of the characteristics leading to gold retention and a definition for refractory gold ore is presented. From this survey of treatments are derived diagnostic conditions that may be useful in predicting the specific refractory characteristics of many ores. Conventional processes are surveyed and include the refractory ore treatments that enjoy commercial application. Oxidative pretreatments, lixiviants for gold dissolution, and adsorption methods are discussed for both conventional and emerging or less known refractory gold ore treatments. These emerging methods may have seen considerable research and possibly some commercial application. Included are some alternate techniques that were developed for specific ores and that may have been superseded by less expensive or more general treatments. Some diagnostic test conditions are proposed as being useful in elucidating the refractory components of non-cyanidable ores. Many pretreatments and lixiviating leaches are applied to sulfidic ores with cyanidation gold recoveries as low as 2.6% leading to extractions as high as 99%. Samples of moderately refractory carbonaceous ore with varying organic carbon and sulfide content are treated similarly and exhibit extraction gains from 66.5% to 92.3%

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