Blog post

The Cyanide Code: Moving Towards a Safer and More Sustainable Way of Mining Gold

September 17, 2020

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

We were glad to have Christine Blackmore, Associate Director at Wardell Armstrong International and ICMI-accredited Lead Auditor for the cyanide code, join us as a guest speaker in our last webinar. For those who missed the webinar, you can watch the recording here.

Below are some key takeaways from the presentation and Q&A.

What is the Cyanide Code, and why does it matter?

The Cyanide Code is a voluntary initiative for operational mines, producers and transporters (Supply Chain). Developed in 2001, it provides the framework for best practices in managing cyanide for the production of precious metals. Certification of operational mines (9 core principles) and supply chains (3 core principles) require regular auditing in accordance with the ICMI Cyanide Code. The audits are undertaken by certified Cyanide Code auditors. The Cyanide Code Principles objectives is to ensure Environmental and Human Health Protection. It also offers many mines the opportunity to demonstrate trust and credibility around key ESG (environmental, social and governance) aspects.

Which part of the Cyanide Code is the most important?

Essentially, every part of the Cyanide Code is important. During the audit process, every aspect of the operations is being examined, for instance, reviewing the verification report, walking around heap leach, checking the tailings pond, ensuring that staff are aware of safety standards and receive appropriate training such as cyanide awareness, cyanide task training and emergency response to cyanide accidents/incidents. The Cyanide Code is implemented and practised worldwide very successfully.

What are the benefits of having a cyanide audit?

Often, stakeholders like investors and financiers do not understand how cyanide is being managed in the mining industry. Compliance to the Cyanide Code is a demonstration that best practices are implemented and observed. For all mining companies, implementing the Cyanide Code principles and standards confirms a commitment to achieving high management standards for cyanide to the local community, government, environment agencies and other stakeholders that Health & Safety and environmental protection is of high priority. Adhering to the Code and its ethics has helped may mines to build trust and work towards obtaining their Social License to Operate.

How can innovative technologies like CyanoGuard provide the most value to mining companies?

In most mines, sampling and testing are carried out every two hours. Having instantaneous cyanide results like the one with CyanoGuard helps to cut down on testing time and alert the mine operator to any changes in the balance of cyanide. CyanoGuard is quick and easy to do, therefore could be carried out more often and can be particularly important for environmental testing, where real-time testing results can help ensure that cyanide levels in tailings are within safety limits, without having to wait for days to get the results.

What are some examples of how CyanoGuard can help mining clients comply with the Cyanide Code?

CyanoGuard’s device is a “plug-and-play” solution which can be implemented almost immediately and does not cause any downtime or interruption to mining operations. Only a minimum amount of sample (1 ml) is required for the device to make a measurement and is, therefore, safe and non-hazardous to the operator (Code 4.1). CyanoGuard’s digital solution provides real-time alerts (e.g. SMS, phone and WhatsApp) for results that are outside defined limits (Code 7.4). This critical alert feature cuts down the response time to incidents and can even prevent possible cyanide incidents from occurring in the first place. Efficient cyanide control also helps lower cyanide consumption while keeping gold recovery rates (Code 4.2). Mines will witness reductions in overall operational cost and environmental footprint as a result of lower consumption in cyanide, detox reagents and water consumption (Code 4.3).

> Watch webinar about The Cyanide Code

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