Blog Post

June 4, 2020

When Less (Cyanide) is More: Challenges in Cyanidation of Gold

In the last 30 years, cyanidation of gold has been increasingly more difficult as a result of various key drivers such as declining ore grade, increasing complexity of treatment processes, rising pressure from investors and general public on reducing environmental impact of mining and rising cyanide cost. The common dilemma of most mine operators is to apply excess amounts of cyanide to ensure that all gold is properly dissolved. Yet on the other hand, this also means more cyanide cost, detoxification reagent cost, water consumption and environmental impact. In the late 1980s, efforts to introduce an online cyanide analyser were made but progress has been slow. Not only do most cyanide monitoring technologies today require extensive expertise to operate, they are often not real-time, and results can be highly unreliable.

The industry has long been trying to envision a product that is robust, reliable, corrosion resistant, fast, affordable, easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain. But the lack of such innovation also means that the gold mining industry has been losing more than USD 7 billion a year as a result of cyanide management inefficiency. This is only the financial downside of the story. What is not included in the calculation are time wasted and long-term environmental impact with water consumption, usage of detox reagent and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

CyanoGuard’s mission is to minimize toxic reagent usage, GHG emissions and improve precious metal recoveries for gold mines by providing a reliable, user-friendly and intelligent real-time cyanide monitoring and optimization solution. Initial pilot tests suggest that optimal cyanide management can help mine operators reduce cyanide usage by 15%, detox reagent by 20% while improving gold recovery by 2%. The fast, safe and easy-to-use handheld solution allows gold mine operators to take measurements of cyanide levels onsite and transmit the data real-time to an AI-based cloud platform. The stored data also allows them to keep an overview of their cyanide usage for environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting purposes and share this data with stakeholders, increasing the transparency of mining operations.

Our next generation cyanide monitoring solution enables mine operators to transition into Mining 4.0 where automation, analytics and AI are increasingly playing an important role in productivity and influencing the bottom line of gold mine operations. With sustainability being one of the top agendas among most mining and gold investors, adoption of innovative technologies that allow mines to better control their cyanide level and in the long-term reduce their cyanide consumption, will help drive new standards in responsible mining.

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