Simultaneous sulfide oxidation and gold dissolution by cyanide-free leaching from refractory and double refractory gold concentrates

Riina Ahtiainen, Jussi Liipo, Mari Lundström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Pyrite and arsenopyrite are known to be the most common gold-bearing sulfide minerals in refractory gold ores. Traditionally, these minerals have been first oxidized by roasting, acidic pressure oxidation or bio-oxidation to release gold, after which the gold is dissolved in the subsequent cyanide leaching step. The chloride (chloride-bromide) solution presents an alternative cyanide-free media, which is able not only to leach gold-bearing sulfide minerals, but also gold, in a single unit process. Therefore, the current study presents an investigation of simultaneous sulfide oxidation and gold leaching from refractory (sulfidic) and double refractory (sulfidic and preg-robbing) gold concentrates. The results show that gold extraction from the investigated refractory concentrate was linearly dependent on the sulfide oxidation: 97% sulfide oxidation resulting in 99% gold extraction, 67% sulfide oxidation resulting in 81% gold extraction, and 46% sulfide oxidation resulting in 67% gold extraction. However, with double refractory concentrate, gold extraction was as low as 18% despite 97% sulfide oxidation ([Cl-]aq,0 = 6.3 mol/L, [Br-]aq,0 = 1.0 mol/L, and [Cu2+]aq,0 = 1.6 mol/L). In order to mitigate the challenges related to gold losses due to preg-robbing, active carbon in chloride leach (CICl) as well as the addition of lead nitrate were investigated. With CICl, the gold recovery could be increased significantly (67%). Further, addition of lead nitrate to CICl was shown to improve gold recovery substantially (88%). The investigation shows that the presented cyanide-free leaching approach can address the refractory nature of gold concentrates in atmospheric pressure - the simultaneous oxidation of sulfide minerals and gold in a single unit process providing new horizons for the future of the utilization of refractory gold ores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107042
Number of pages8
JournalMinerals Engineering
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon in chloride leach
  • Lead nitrate
  • Preg-robbing
  • Sulfide concentrate
  • Sustainability


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