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Determination of the leaching parameters for a refractory gold ore containing aurostibite and antimony minerals: Part II – AD Zone

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2009, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 114-120

Deschenes, G.; Xia, C.; Fulton, M.; Cabri, L.J.; Price, J.


Following a successful investigation on the Central Zone sample, a cyanidation study was conducted on an ore sample from the AD-MW Zone of Clarence Stream Property, owned by Freewest Resources Canada, to develop a leaching strategy to extract gold. At a grade of 6.48 g/t, gold is present in the forms of aurostibite, free gold and electrum. The ore contains 4.3% berthierite/gudmundite, 1.3% pyrrhotite, 0.7% pyrite, 0.07% stibnite and 0.9% arsenopyrite. Similar to the Central Zone, the extraction of gold from the AD-MW Zone can be performed at atmospheric pressure, pH 10.5 and with a low concentration of cyanide. The grind size had no effect on gold extraction between a P80 of 28 to 71 µm. The oxygen and cyanide requirement significantly increased with a finer grind. Consequently, a very close control of cyanide addition is required to minimize passivation of gold. Lead nitrate, added in the pretreatment, increased the extraction of gold by 2.3%. Leaching at pH < 10 improved gold extraction but increased the cyanide consumption by 5%. Passivation of gold occurred when the pretreatment was longer than 2 hours. A longer pretreatment reduced the cyanide consumption by 5%. Mineralogical characterization of the leach residue with no gravity pretreatment prior to leaching indicated the presence of unleached gold grains and passivated gold grains. Removal of coarse gold by gravity increased the extraction by 2.8% (leach residue at 0.74 g/t Au). Increasing the DO to 16 ppm or the lead nitrate from 500 to 1,000 g/t increased the overall gold extraction to 90.4% (leach residue at 0.62 g/t), which is the maximum gold extraction obtained. The leaching parameters were 800 ppm NaCN, DO 16 ppm and pH 10.5 for a duration of 120 hours. The associated cyanide consumption was 4.0 kg/t. Gold leaching was not sensitive to cyanide concentration. Reducing the cyanide concentration to 250 ppm resulted in a gold extraction of 89.5% with a cyanide consumption of 2.6 kg/t.