Cyanide

Cyanide has been used safely in mining for over 100 years. It is one of the few chemical reagents which dissolve gold and silver, which allows for the separation of these metals from the other minerals.

Over one million tonnes of cyanide are produced annually with approximately 10-15% of this used in the mining industry. The rest is used to manufacture other common household products:

  • Steel industry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics
  • Cosmetics, food
  • Additives, textiles

Cyanide does not cause cancer and does not build up in animals or fish. It can be destroyed easily and safely with no long term harm. Cyanide is naturally occurring and can be found in many plants and fruits like almonds, apricots, certain varieties of cherries or beans.

Cyanide gas evaporates quickly in open spaces and the outdoors. Sunlight alone will break down cyanide when exposed to air and in surface water. Like many hundreds of other chemicals used by industry, cyanide can be managed safely and with no impact on people or the environment.

In 2008 the European Union finalised specific mine waste legislation, which includes the world's strictest emission limit values for cyanide lowering the WAD cyanide limit in processing plant discharge from 50ppm to 10ppm. Cyanide leaching is today considered to be the best available technique for the extraction of gold from ores. Cyanide is used in 90% of all worldwide gold production projects.

For more information about international best practice in the use of cyanide, a code to which Gabriel is fully committed, click here