DOING SOME DIGGING Cyanide code gaining acceptance

The objectives of the INTERNATIONAL CYANIDE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE (ICMI) are straightforward: promote responsible ma...
The objectives of the INTERNATIONAL CYANIDE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE (ICMI) are straightforward: promote responsible management of cyanide used in gold mining, enhance the protection of human health, and reduce the potential for environmental impacts.

The ICMI oversees the international cyanide management code created in 2000 under the guidance of the UN Environment Program and the former International Council on Metals & the Environment. Signatories include manufacturers, transporters and gold mining companies. BARRICK GOLD, GABRIEL RESOURCES and KINROSS GOLD of Canada are among the signatories. In fact, Barrick's Cowal mine in Australia became the first operation certified by the ICMI in April 2006.

Companies that sign on agree to abide by a comprehensive list of principles and practices. The code covers producing, storing, transporting, using and decommissioning of facilities used in the gold mining industry. It covers financial assurance, accident prevention, emergency response, training, public reporting, stakeholder involvement and auditing procedures. The code is a voluntary initiative to be applied in addition to producers' legal obligations. New signatories have three years to become certified followings an audit.

The cyanide code may be just what U.S.-based GOLDEN STAR RESOURCES needs. It signed the code in March 2006, but three months later the company reported a tailings spill at the Bogoso/Prestea mine in Ghana. The spill and another in October 2004 have non-governmental organizations calling for ICMI to enforce the rules, the Ghanaian government to take action, and Golden Star to clean up its operation.

With the guidance of the ICMI and direction provided by the code, such problems will become fewer and their impacts minor. If Golden Star can certify its mines, local communities will have much less to worry abaout.

A visit to the ICMI website at reveals such interesting facts as only 13% of the hydrogen cyanide produced worldwide is used in gold recovery. The other 87% is used in other industrial processes such as the making of plastics, adhesives, fire retardants, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food processing and as an anti-caking additive to table and road salts. Comprehensive information about cyanide and its effects are also available.


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