Sequential treatment was applied to carbonaceous Au-Ag-bearing ore concentrate to maximize the Au and Ag recovery. In the preliminary test, the present carbonaceous ore had well liberated and exposed type of gold grains, which are not refractory, but included mainly three types of Ag presented as electrum, hessite (Ag2Te) and Ag-bearing other minerals. Au recovery was ∼100% without any treatment, meanwhile Ag recovery was only 33.3%. The sequential treatment comprises two oxidation steps: (a) mixed culture of iron- and sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms at pH 1.2, followed by (b) cell-free spent medium (CFSM) at pH 4.0 from a white rot-fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, which includes lignin-degrading enzymes. As a result, Ag recovery was 55.5% after the first step and greatly improved to ∼100%, including the dissolved Ag+ concentration in the first step of acid treatment. Although the acidophilic iron-oxidizing microorganisms were inhibited by dissolved Ag+ and Cd2+ ions, the strong acidic conditions dissolved hessite and Ag-bearing oxide minerals. However, the remaining carbonaceous matter acted to sorb Ag(CN)2− in cyanidation, causing the recovery loss. In the next step the lignin-degrading enzymes degraded carbonaceous matter in the ore. This step is necessary to avoid the adsorption of Ag(CN)2− on graphitic carbonaceous matter, leading a mostly perfect recovery of the remaining Ag in the solid residues, without necessity of alkaline washing. The sequential treatment including enzymatic lignin-degrading process was also effective in carbonaceous silver ore avoiding the emission of air pollutants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
- Mechanical Engineering