Cyanide recovery from a gold mill barren solution containing high levels of copper.

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 1025, 1998

P.A. Riveros and D. Koren, CANMET, Ottawa, Ontario
V.M. McNamara, Consultant, Ottawa, Ontario, and
J. Binvignat, Placer Dome, Antofagasta, Chile

The recovery of cyanide from a gold mill solution containing high levels of copper (400 mg/L to 900 mg/L) using the AVR process was evaluated. It was determined that acidification to pH 2 to 3 provides a suitable balance between HCN generation, copper precipitation and acid consumption. A short pilot plant campaign showed that ~75% of the feed WAD cyanide was recovered while the remainder precipitated along with copper upon acidification. The acid consumption averaged 3.5 g H2SO4 per litre of solution. The copper precipitate, consisting mostly of CuCN and CuSCN, was readily separated from the solution by gravity. The volatilization of HCN in countercurrent packed columns averaged 98.7% efficiency. Reabsorption of HCN was practically 100% in NaOH solutions and slightly lower in a lime slurry. Basic volatilizer design parameters applicable to a large-scale operation were determined, including the HenryÕs Law constant and the mass transfer coefficient of HCN gas.