New chemical tech at Barrick’s Buylanhulu mine results in cleaner tailings, better recoveries

Following a successful trial of chemical technologies provider Draslovka’s GlyCat…

Following a successful trial of chemical technologies provider Draslovka’s GlyCat glycine leaching technology at global miner Barrick Gold’s Bulyanhulu mine, in Tanzania, the gold miner has started commercial use of this technology at the mine, with more sites to follow.

The companies in mid-2023 announced a partnership whereby Barrick would trial and use the GlyCat technology at the mine and conduct a broader testing programme spanning multiple mining sites this year.

The GlyCat pilot programme resulted in a drop of 80% in cyanide consumption and improved gold recoveries compared with traditional cyanidation.

Draslovka confirms that, with GlyCat as part of the gold leaching process, the Bulyanhulu mine’s tailings show undetectable levels of weak-acid dissociable and are free of cyanide, thereby reducing detoxification requirements and costs.

Glycine leaching technology uses glycine, a nontoxic, recyclable and biodegradable amino acid that is commonly used as a food additive, to recover gold, copper, nickel and cobalt.

The technology was inspired by nature when researchers at Curtin University, in Perth, Australia, observed plants absorbing gold and other metals out of the soil through the presence of glycine, which carries those metals through the soil and into the plant.

GlyCat can potentially achieve a reduction in processing costs of 25% to 50% for more complex ores, Draslovka reports.

Draslovka CEO Pavel Bruzek says the technology provides significant economic and sustainability benefits at a time when the future of mining is conditional on cost savings and sustainable operations as a licence to operate.

He believes GlyCat will enable a major shift for the gold mining industry, with Barrick having been the first major mining company to recognise its potential.

“The application of GlyCat technology within our operations has significant potential to deliver improved operational efficiencies and cost savings, while also improving our environmental legacy.

“Consequently, we are pleased to embark on this strategic partnership with Draslovka to take advantage of this innovative technology across our global operations,” adds Barrick mineral resource management and evaluations executive Simon Bottoms.

Barrick is a gold and copper producer with mines and developmental projects across 18 countries.

The company is among those taking the necessary steps to maximise value from existing mines, to meet the growing global demand for critical metals and considering that major gold and copper discoveries have been in steady decline over the last decade.

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