Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX) hit a major milestone late last year, after it poured its first cyanide-free gold bar at its Goldstrike operations in Nevada using nothing other than a common potato fertilizer.
The reagent, known as thiosulphate, is a sulphur-oxide, non-toxic compound that helps liberate gold from ores that would otherwise be unrecoverable with traditional methods such as cyanide leaching.
“Gold is often locked into minerals, or trapped by too much sulphur or carbon and sometimes you just can’t recover enough of it to be profitable,” Peter Kondos, senior manager of research and development tells Mining Trends & Developments from his office in Toronto. “There’s significant interest for us, and for our colleagues out there, to find a new technology that’ll overcome those challenges and turn those economics around.”
For the past two decades, Kondos says Barrick had “the guts and stamina” to investigate and pioneer the avant garde technique, alongside other international miners such as Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) and Placer Dome, who were also exploring its potential.
Barrick acquired all the thiosulphate patents and knowhow from Placer Dome with the acquisition of the company in 2006. Since then, Barrick has become a leader in the field, using Goldstrike’s cyanide resistant ore as the world’s first test hub.
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