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Cyanide Geochemistry (PowerPoint)

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					Cyanide Geochemistry
                                        Outline
•   Introduction to Cyanide
•   Cyanide in the beneficiation of gold
     –   Heap Leach Process
     –   Cyanide tank leach and CIP circuits
     –   Optimum Conditions for CN leaching
     –   Extraction of gold from the CN solution
          • (a) Merrill Crowe Process
          • (b) CIP Process
•   Cyanide Analysis
•   Toxicity
•   Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
     –   1. Volatolization
     –   2. Complexation
     –   3. Adsorption
     –   4. Oxidation to Cyanate
     –   5. Formation of Thiocyanate, SCN-
     –   6. Hydrolysis
     –   7.Biodegradation
•   Cyanide degradation in a Heap Leach
•   Cyanide degradation in Mill Tailings
•   Examples of Cyanide Spills
•   Summary
•   References
          Introduction to Cyanide
•   1.4 m tonnes CN produced annually
•   13% CN is used for the extraction of Au and Ag: 460 of 875 Au/Ag mines use CN
•   87% used in production of paint, adhesives, cmputer electronics, fire retardants,
    cosmetics, dyes, nylon, Plexiglas, rocket propellant and pharmaceuticals
•   Cocaine         CuCN.9(C17H19O3N.HCN).7HCN
•   Novocaine       CuCN.9(C17H20O2N.HCN).HCN
•   Codeine         CuCN.4(C18H21O3N.HCN).3HCN
•   Nicotine        CuCN.2(C10H14 N2.HCN).1.5HCN
•   Morphine        CuCN.9(C17H19O3N.HCN).7HCN
•   Caffeine        4CuCN.(C8H10O2N4.HCN)

Natural Cyanide
• Cyanide is naturally produced by both fauna and flora.
• Humans have <0.217 g/l SCN in saliva, <0.007 g/l SCN in urine and <0.006 g/l in gastric
   juices.
• Cyanogenic bacteria generate cyanide from glycine.
                  NH2CH2COOH = HCN + CO2 + 2H2
Cyanide in the beneficiation of gold
• 0.05% NaCN solution is used to extract Au and Ag from ore
• Au dissolves by two processes occurring simultaneously on its surface.
Cathode
• At one end of the metal, the cathodic zone, oxygen takes up electrons
  and undergoes a reduction reaction.
                    O2 + 2 H2O + 2 e- => H2O2 + 2 OH-
Anode
• At the other end, the anodic zone, the metal gives up electrons and
  undergoes an oxidation reaction.
                               Au => Au+ + e-

                          Au+ + 2CN- => Au(CN)2-

• And then form strong complexes by Elsener’s/ Adamson’s 1st reaction:
         4Au + 8NaCN + O2 + 2H2O = 4NaAu(CN)2 + 4NaOH
  Or Adamson’s 2nd reaction
        2Au + 4NaCN +2H2O = 2NaAu(CN)2 + H2O2 + 2NaOH
Heap Leach Process
 Cyanide
tank leach
 and CIP
  circuits
  Optimum Conditions for CN leaching
• The rate of Au dissolution is determined by the rate at which the
  dissolved oxygen and/or the cyanide ions permeate or diffuse
  through the Nernst layer (~0.05 mm) which surrounds the surface of
  Au.
    – CN tanks must be aerated by agitation or by pumping air through.

• Increasing the temperature of the leach solution will promote the
  dissolution of Au, but as the temperature increases, the solubility of
  oxygen decreases.
    – The optimal temperature is 60 to 80º C.

• Other metallic species from ore minerals, e.g. sphalerite (ZnS),
  chalcocite (Cu2S), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), bornite (FeS.2Cu2S.CuS),
  will form complexes with CN.
    – Therefore more CN is needed than for just Au complexation.
    – The tailings will contain these complexes.
Extraction of gold from the CN solution
      (a) Merrill Crowe Process
• Merrill Crowe process discovered and patented by Charles
  Washington Merrill around 1900, thenrefined by Thomas B. Crowe,
  working for the Merrill Company
• Zinc replaces Au in the NaAu(CN)2 complex, as it has a higher
  affinity for CN- than gold
                   NaAu(CN)2+ Zn = NaZn(CN)2 + Au
• Au precipitates as a solid.
• Early zinc precipitation systems simply used a wooden box filled
  with zinc chips. They were very inefficient and much of the dissolved
  gold remained in solution.
• The Merrill-Crowe process works better than the early zinc boxes
  because it uses zinc powder and reduces the amount of dissolved
  oxygen.
             (b) Carbon in Pulp (CIP)
• Carbon in Pulp was introduced in 1985,
• Granular activated carbon particles (burnt coconut shells) have a high
  porosity, each pore is about 10-20 Å and the surficial area is >1000
  m2/g.
• The carbon particles are much larger than the ground ore particles.
• The activated carbon and cyanided pulp are agitated together.
• Au(CN)2 becomes adsorbed onto the charged surface of the activated
  carbon.
• The loaded activated carbon is mechanically screened to separate it
  from the barren ore pulp
• The gold adsorbed on the activated carbon is recovered from the carbon
  by elution with a hot caustic aqueous cyanide solution.
• The carbon is then regenerated and returned to the adsorption circuit
• The gold is recovered from the eluate using either zinc cementation or
  electrowinning.
• The gold concentrate is then smelted and refined to gold bullion that
  typically contains about 70 - 90% gold.
• The bullion is then further refined to either 99.99% or 99.999% fineness
  using chlorination, smelting and electro-refining.
 CIP
circuit
                  Cyanide Analysis
CN is difficult to analyze because of the difference in solubility of the
  various complexes.

1. Weak acid dissociable (WAD) cyanide.
• Most often used as it measures the cyanide which would be easily
   leached in mildly acidic conditions including free cyanide and weakly
   complexed cyanide (with Cd and Ni).
• The WAD technique is least susceptible to interference and over-
   estimation.
• There are two methods of analysis:
• a) Reflux distillation for one hour in mild acid, buffered with acetate to
   pH of 4.5. HCN collected and measured by titration
• b) Picric Acid titration

• 2. Cyanide amenable to chlorination
• Analyses the same compounds as WAD and is accepted by the US
  EPA.
• A two step process measures CN evolving before and after
  chlorination
3. Total Cyanide:
• Reflux for one
   hour in strong
   acid which
   dissociates most
   complexes and
   measure HCN
   which is absorbed
   in NaOH solution.

• Analytical
  interferences from
  oxidizing agents,
  sulphides,
  sulphates,
  thiocyanate,
  nitrate, nitrite,
  carbonate,
  thiosulphates.
                          TOXICITY
• Cyanide binds to the active Fe atom in cytochrome c oxidase and
  inactivates oxidative respiration.
• Cyanide may be inhaled ingested or absorbed through the skin but
  does not accumulate in the body.
• HCN and CN- are acutely toxic if inhaled or ingested and result in
  convulsions, vomiting, coma and death.
• Lethal doses (LD 50) of KCN or NaCN: 1.1-1.5 mg/kg of body weight.
• Lower long term concentrations result in neuropathy, optical atrophy,
  pernicious anaemia.

• Cyanide complexes are not as toxic as free cyanide and their toxicity
  depends on ability of the gut to break down the complex and absorb
  the free cyanide.

• Ferric ferrocyanide is used as an antidote to thallium poisoning.
           Degradation
          mechanisms to
          reduce toxicity
          1. Volatilization
    Reaction between cyanide and water
    produces HCN gas

    CN- + H2O = HCN + OH-

•   At pH < 8.3 HCN is the dominant species.
•   Therefore cyanide leaching operation is
    kept at a pH over 10.

•   HCN is a colourless liquid or gas: with a
    boiling point of 25.7oC.

•   Reaction is dependant on pH (<pH7 99%
    will be HCN), cyanide solubility, HCN
    vapour pressure, and CN concentration in
    solution.
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
            2. Complexation
   72 complexes with varying solubilities are
   possible from 28 elements. These rapid reactions
   immediately remove CN- from solution.
 • Complexes may absorb on organic and inorganic
   surfaces or precipitate as insoluble salts with Fe,
   Cu, Ni, Mn, Pb, Zn, Cd, Sn, Ag.
 • Complex may dissociate in acid conditions but
   may persist for hundreds of years.
 2a. Neutral Cyanide Compounds
Soluble compounds
  NaCN, KCN and Ca(CN)2, Hg(CN)2 dissolve in
  water to give cyanide anions
                  NaCN = Na+ + CN-
               Ca(CN)2 = Ca2+ + 2CN-

Insoluble Neutral Cyanide Compounds
  Zn(CN)2, Cd(CN)2, CuCN, Ni(CN)2, AgCN
2b Charged metal CN complexes
  Cyanide complexes form in order of increasing
  number of CN ligands with successively higher CN
  concentration

• Weak Complexes:
• [Zn(CN)4]2-, [Cd(CN)3]-, [Cd(CN)4]2-

• Moderately Strong Complexes:
• [Cu(CN)2]-, [Cu(CN)3]2-, [Ni(CN)4]2-, [Ag(CN)2]-
• The rate of dissolution depends on pH, temperature,
  intensity of light, and bacteria
• Weak and moderately strong cyanide complexes will
  break down at pH 4.5 so will register in the weak
  acid dissociable (WAD) cyanide analysis.
                Strong Complexes
• [Fe(CN)6]4-, [Co(CN)6]4-, [Au(CN)2]-, [Fe(CN)6]3- form at pH l<9.0 and
  can form insoluble salts with other species.

• Ferrocyanide [Fe2+(CN)6]4- (hexaferrocyanate, red) and ferricyanides
  [Fe3+(CN)6]3- (hexaferricyanates, yellow) are very stable in the
  absence of light (<100s of years) but dissociate in UV to form CN-
  and hence HCN
                  Fe(CN)64- + H+ = Fe(CN)53- + HCN

•   The transformation of Fe3+ to Fe2+ leaves CN content constant.
•   This oxidation/reduction couple is pH dependent.
•   Reaction is very slow so most mine wastes have both species.
•   When both Fe2+ and Fe3+ are present
    the compound is a deep “Prussian” blue.
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
             3. Adsorption
 • Adsorption of CN- on Fe, Al and Mn oxides
   and hydroxides and on clays.
 • Clays with high anion exchange capacity
   are most effective e.g. clays containing
   kaolinite, chlorite, gibbsite or Al or Fe oxy-
   hydroxides
 • Clays with high cation exchange capacity
   (CEC) are less effective at scavenging CN-
   e.g. montmorillonite.
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
         4. Oxidation to Cyanate
 •   Cyanide can be oxidized to
     less toxic cyanate
 •   HCN + 0.5O2 = HCNO

 •   From the phase diagram,
     cyanate should be the
     dominant form under
     environmental conditions but
     this requires strong oxidants
     e.g. ozone, H2O2, plus UV,
     bacteria or a catalyst.

 •   Adsorption onto organics or
     carbonaceous material which
     causes CN to become
     oxidized
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
   5. Formation of Thiocyanate, SCN-
 • In neutral to basic solution
 • From oxidation products of sulphides such as chalcopyrite,
   chalcocite, pyrrhotite not pyrite and sphalerite.

 • From polysulphides
                        Sx2- + CN- = Sx-12- + SCN-
 • From thiosulphates
                    S2O32- + CN- = SO32- + SCN-

 • SCN- behaves like a pseudohalogen and forms insoluble salts with
   Ag, Hg, Pb, Cu, Zn.
 • Complexes may react with SCN- to form even more stable
   compounds
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
             6. Hydrolysis

  HCN + 2H2O = NH4COOH (ammonium formate)
   HCN + 2H2O = NH3 + HCOOH (formic acid)

 • Slow reaction, 2% per month
 • Dependent on pH.
Degradation mechanisms to reduce toxicity
            7. Biodegradation
 •    Aerobic degradation in unsaturated zones is 25 times more effective than in saturated
      zones
                                   HCN + O2 = 2 HCNO
                             HCNO + 0.5 O2 + H2O = NH3 + CO2

 •    Anaerobic degradation in the saturated zones
                                  CN + H2S = HCNS + H+
                                  HCN + HS = HCNS + H+

 •    The toxic limit for effective anaerobic degradation is 2 mg/L.

 •    Bacteria can be used in a bioreactor to decrease
     CN content e.g. Landusky heap leach remediation
  Cyanide degradation in a Heap Leach
• Cyanide decreases from >250 mg/l in leach solution to 130 mg/l in
  rinsate and then decays to below detection limit.
      Cyanide degradation in Mill Tailings
•   Most CN is degraded by volatilization
    of HCN because the pH is lowered
    immediately from 10 by rainwater and
    uptake of CO2 from air and more
    slowly by oxidation of sulphides.

•   Between 3 and 6 months, WAD CN
    (from CIP process) has reduced by a
    factor of 100 to a few ppm.

•   There are slight difference between
    surface and deep waters and between
    winter and summer.

•   There is a need to consider
    transformation of CN between solid,
    liquid and gas phases. This may be
    dependent on type of soil, cations,
    weather, bacteria, depth and degree of
    oxygenation of pond.
             Examples of Cyanide Spills
•   Hungary-Romania-Slovakia-Ukrain: 1-11 February 2000cyanide spill in Szamos and
    Tisza rivers polluted the Danube

•   Australia February 8, 2000: BHP fined over cyanide pollution incident

•   Ghana: 23rd October 2004, and 16 June 2006 BHP fined over cyanide pollution incident
    at the Port Kembla steel-making operation near Wollongong.

•   Honduras: 3rd May 2006 In the Siria Valley in Honduras, are extensive. Cyanide and
    heavy metal contamination of several water sources in the area of the San Martin mine
    has been confirmed.

•   Romania: 30 January 2000 Baia Mare Mine

•   Kyrgystan: May 20 1998, a truck carrying sodium cyanide to Kyrgyzstan's Kumtor Gold
    Company (one-third owned and operated by a subsidiary of the Saskatchewan-based
    Cameco Corporation) overturned into the Barskoon River, spilling nearly two tonnes of
    deadly cyanide.
                     Summary
• Cyanide/ CIP is an efficient method to extract Au and Ag.
• Most CN will convert to HCN in tailings ponds or heap
  leach and volatilize under increasing acidic conditions or
  be consumed by bacteria.
• CN forms complexes of varying strengths and longevity
  with metals
• The major environmental issues relate to spills from
  tailings ponds, trucks pipes before CN has decomposed.
  Cyanide spill kills fish and wildlife immediately but the
  major long term problems relate to heavy metal
  contamination, some coming from the decomposition of
  metal cyanide complexes.
                            References
•   Filipek, L H., (1999) Determination of the Source and Pathway of Cyanide
    Bearing Mine Water Seepage, in The Environmental Geochemistry of
    Mineral Deposits Part B Case Studies and Research Topics Eds Filipeck,
    L.H. and Plumlee, G.S.

•   Meehan, S.M. (2000) The fate of cyanide in groundwater at gaswork sites in
    SE Australia, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.

•   Smith, A.,(1994) The Geochemistry of Cyanide in Short Course Handbook
    on Environmental Geochemistry of Sulphide Mine-Wastes Ed. Jambor, J.L.
    and Blowes, D.W. MAC

•   Smith, A.C.S & Mudder, T.I. (1998) The Environmental Geochemistry of
    Cyanide in The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits Part A
    Processes, Techniques and Health Issues, eds Plumlee and Logsdon.
    Review in Economic Geology Volume 6A, Society of Economic Geologists.
•   (all 11. figures and tables)

				
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