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Risk of Cyanide Contamination From Canada’s Gold Mines Rife

As of last year, Canada was the fifth largest producer of gold, producing 170.6 tonnes of gold through gold mining. The large-scale production of gold from gold mines indicates the great environmental and health risks that Canada needs to grapple with.

Conventionally, cyanide has been used to extract gold from its ores and it still remains the most common chemical in gold extraction. Cyanide easily combines with many metals and proves itself useful in the separation of metals from their ore.

However, this method produces a massive amount of tailings, which are waste products from gold extraction containing high amounts of heavy metals and toxic cyanide. Moreover, these tailings need to be stored securely such that they do not leak and contaminate the surrounding environment; but this space is not always readily available.

Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy gold mine in Moose River, Ontario, is currently facing the prospect of a dearth of such storage space. The mine has been in operation since 2017 and is expected to be in production until 2024, but the storage for tailings and waste rock is about to reach its limit it is expected to be filled by March next year. Atlantic Gold has plans to store the tailings in an open pit and treat the water that seeps out to the river by adjusting the pH to meet water quality standards. However, this means that the river would still be contaminated with tailings.

In 2019, Canada’s environmental assessment agency approved of New Gold’s proposed C$1.8 billion Blackwater gold project in central British Columbia, which will have an average production of about 14.4 tonnes of gold. However, whole ore leaching with toxic cyanide was stated as the preferred method for recovering gold from ore on the property, presenting the risk of cyanide spills.

On the other hand, a proposal to build a gold mine on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore of Canada was delayed in 2018 due to concerns about mercury and arsenic contamination in the area. These worries first arose 125 years ago, when mercury and cyanide were used to extract gold from rock in the Goldboro area near Nova Scotia and the tailings were simply dumped into nearby streams or wetlands.

Therefore, there are clearly risks involved in traditional methods of gold extraction which use cyanide — tailings leaks and cyanide spills for example, and these can have severe consequences on public health and the environment. Since the main source of concern comes from cyanide, is there a way to eliminate the use of this dangerous chemical?

Clean Earth Technologies has paved the way for a clean, non-toxic solution to gold mining. It strongly believes in a new, more transparent exchange of technologies and solutions that enable a cleaner approach and outcome for tapping the earth’s richness. Clean Mining, a part of Clean Earth Technologies, is transforming gold production worldwide with its new mineral processing technology that eliminates cyanide and mercury in the gold recovery process.

The process adopts an alternative gold recovery agent — an inorganic compound that is non-toxic, non-flammable and water soluble. The agent dissolves fine gold out of ores into a solution, which can then be recovered through further processing.

With the adoption of Clean Mining’s solution, gold mining can continue in a sustainable, clean manner without threatening the environment and public health.

 

Clean Mining is part of the Clean Earth Technologies group.

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