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Gold Extraction: Is It Possible to Make the Process Safer?

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gold extraction
gold extraction

Table of Contents:

1. What is the Cyanide Gold Extraction Method?

2. What are the Pros and Cons of Sodium Cyanide for Gold Extraction?

3. Are There Safer and More Efficient Methods for Extracting Gold?

4. Conclusion

Different types of gold ore require different gold extraction processes. There are five simple methods for extracting gold from gold ore, including gravity separation, flotation, heap leaching, cyanidation, and mercury amalgamation. In the world, various gold beneficiation processes are employed, such as single gravity separation, single flotation, gravity separation followed by flotation, mercury amalgamation followed by flotation, full mud cyanidation with zinc powder replacement, full mud cyanidation with carbon pulp, full mud cyanidation with resin, flotation followed by cyanidation of gold concentrate, and heap leaching. Combined processes such as gravity separation followed by flotation, flotation followed by cyanidation (of concentrate or tailings), cyanidation followed by flotation, and gravity separation (flotation) followed by carbon leaching are also commonly used in gold mines.

What is the Cyanide Gold Extraction Method?

Cyanide gold extraction is an effective and high-yield beneficiation method for extracting gold from gold ore. Common methods include cyanide pulp extracting gold, cyanide leaching gold extraction, and cyanide pool extracting gold. The cyanide gold extraction process has been gradually perfected, with the main process including crushing the ore, grinding the ore, cyanide leaching, adsorbing gold with activated carbon, washing and desorbing to obtain gold-rich solution and desorption carbon. The gold-rich solution is electrolyzed to produce gold powder, and the desorption carbon is regenerated for recycling. Cyanidation is a major gold beneficiation method used both domestically and internationally, despite the long cyanidation process time and the toxicity of cyanide, it is still widely used due to its high efficiency.

In cyanide extracting gold, sodium cyanide solution is commonly used as the solvent due to its high dissolving ability, stability, and relatively low cost. Although cyanide leaching is one of the main methods for extracting gold and silver, it is not suitable for directly using cyanide leaching for ores with high copper, arsenic, antimony, sulfur, carbon, and other component contents, and requires pre-treatment before using cyanide.

What are the Pros and Cons of Sodium Cyanide for Gold Extraction?


1. High efficiency: Sodium cyanide solution has high dissolving ability for gold, enabling efficient extraction of gold from ore with high extraction efficiency.

2. Stability: Sodium cyanide solution has high stability, allowing gold extraction to be conducted under relatively broad process conditions, making operations relatively stable and reliable.

3. Low cost: Compared to other gold extraction methods, the price of sodium cyanide is relatively low, resulting in relatively low costs for extracting gold using sodium cyanide, making it economical.

4. Mature technology: Sodium cyanide gold extraction technology has been developed and improved over a long period, and has been widely used in industrial production, with high technological maturity.


1. Environmental risk: Cyanide used in sodium cyanide extracting gold is a highly toxic substance, posing environmental risks, such as serious environmental pollution and ecological damage if leaked or mishandled.

2. Safety hazards: Due to the high toxicity of sodium cyanide, strict control of its use and handling processes is required, with safety hazards present, such as the potential for serious harm to personnel if mishandled.

3. Long-term action: Sodium cyanide gold extraction requires a certain amount of time to complete the dissolution and extraction of gold, with a relatively long process that requires a certain amount of time and energy.

4. Pre-treatment requirements: For ores containing high levels of copper, arsenic, antimony, sulfur, carbon, and other components, pre-treatment is required before using sodium cyanide for extracting gold, increasing process complexity and costs.

Are There Safer and More Efficient Methods for Gold Extraction?

In the process of gold ore extraction, although cyanidation is one of the most widely used methods for extracting gold, with the development of technology, more and more safe and efficient alternative methods are being developed and applied. Selecting the appropriate extraction method depends on factors such as the characteristics of the ore, safety requirements, and environmental impacts.

Y&X’s popular product, YX500 gold leaching agent, is an environmentally friendly alternative to highly toxic sodium cyanide. It addresses nearly all the drawbacks of cyanide. YX500 is currently in industrial production and application. The developed “combined leaching” and “on-site cleaning” technologies can achieve standard discharge of tailings pond sludge while ensuring a high leaching rate of gold.

The following are the main advantages of YX500:

1. Environmental friendly, low toxicity, safer transportation, usage, and storage.

2. Common chemical products, can be transported by sea, rail, road, and other transportation methods, reducing transportation costs.

3. No need to change any current leaching process, can directly replace sodium cyanide.

4. Faster leaching rate than sodium cyanide, shortening the production cycle by 30% compared to using sodium cyanide, saving labor, reducing costs, and conserving water.

5. Good stability and increased carbon adsorption capacity, effectively increasing the adsorption capacity of activated carbon, and increasing the recovery rate.

Click here for more information about YX500



In conclusion, while cyanidation has long been a major method for gold extraction, playing an important role in extraction efficiency and industrial application, it also comes with environmental risks and safety hazards. In contrast, the recent popular YX500 gold leaching agent represents a more positive aspect. Its unique technological features and mature application experience provide a safer and more efficient choice for the gold ore extraction industry. The development of YX500 gold leaching agent makes gold extraction not only more environmentally friendly and economical but also provides strong support for improving production efficiency and ensuring work safety.

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