Humanity’s penchant for gold has prevailed since nearly 7,000 years ago. What is thought to be the world’s oldest gold artifact — a tiny gold bead 4mm in diameter — was found in Bulgaria by archaeologists and dates back to 4,500-4,600 B.C. (between 6,500 years to 6,600 years ago).
The bead was believed to be made just outside the first “urban” settlement in Europe made up of highly cultured people who were immigrants from Turkey. This is evidence that gold has existed since a long way back and alludes to the cultural and monetary significance of the precious metal.
In the 19th century, gold rushes — rapid movements of people to a newly discovered goldfield — occurred, testament to the intrinsic value of gold. The California Gold Rush, one of the most significant events in American history, was sparked off by the discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848.
Gold has been traditionally extracted with the use of a toxic chemical, cyanide. This extraction process, known as gold cyanidation, was unearthed in 1783 when Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a German Swedish Chemist who discovered oxygen, discovered that one could dissolve gold in an aqueous cyanide solution. In 1887, this knowledge was applied to gold mining.
The extraction process includes three steps: contacting the finely ground ore with the cyanide solution, separating the solids from the clear solution, and recovering the precious metals from the solution by precipitation with zinc dust.
However, as cyanide is highly toxic, it can result in substantial environmental impacts and public health risks if released into the environment. Therefore, there is a need to curtail these adverse effects, especially in a time when consumers are becoming more concerned about environmental issues.
In a 2020 BCG survey of more than 3,000 people from eight countries, 87% of respondents said that companies should integrate environmental concerns into their products, services, and operations to a greater extent than they had in the past.
What if there was an alternative to toxic cyanide in gold mining? Clean Mining, a part of Clean Earth Technologies, has the answer. Clean Mining is working to transform gold production worldwide through new processing technology that eliminates cyanide as a means of extracting gold. The result is a revolutionary gold recovery agent that is non-toxic and environmentally and financially sustainable, bringing about benefits for both miners and the environment.
With the inherent value of and demand for gold, the only way ahead for the gold mining industry to mitigate its environmental impacts is to switch to a clean alternative.
Clean Mining is part of the Clean Earth Technologies group.