Curtin University’s Gold Technology Group (GTG) has discovered a green alternative to the toxic systems currently used to leach precious metals from their ores. Glycine, an edible and environmentally benign amino acid, has been effectively used in the leaching process for gold, silver and copper.
“Glycine is benign in the safety, health and environmental sense,” Curtin University Chair of Extractive Metallurgy Professor Jacques Eksteen said.
Glycine can also be recycled after leaching. When used to leach precious metals, glycine binds with metal ions, forming a soluble complex. This complex is then passed over activated carbon, concentrating the gold in a step as efficient as the current cyanide-based process.
“You can reuse and recycle it. That’s one thing you struggle to do with cyanide,” said Professor Eksteen.
Curtin University has patented the process and the Curtin team are currently working to optimise the system.
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