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75 GOLD RECOVERY METHODS

chemical methods of recovering gold:


- mercury amalgamation of gold.
- cyanide leaching dissolving gold.
- chlorine leaching dissolving gold.
- Haber Gold Process leaching 2000s research in New Jersey.

- iGoli chlorine leaching 2000s research in South Africa.


- iodine leaching dissolving gold.
- tincture of iodine leaching 2000s research in Japan.
- bromine leaching dissolving gold.
- bromine leaching 1990s research in Indiana.
- thiocyanate leaching dissolving gold.
- thiosulphate leaching - dissolving gold.
- thiourea leaching dissolving gold.
- nitric acid attack liberating gold from sulphides.
- aqua regia dissolving gold.
- borax smelting gold.

biochemical methods of recovering gold:


- bioleaching 1980s research in Wales and California.
- biooxidation 1980s research in British Columbia and California.
- gold-binding proteins 2000s research in Washington State.
- phytomining 2000s research in New Zealand.

oleophilic methods of recovering gold:


- agglomeration 1980s research in Australia and China.
- oleophilic adhesion 1980s research in Alberta.
- froth floatation 1930s research in Idaho and USSR.
- gold-paraffin floatation 1990s research in Brazil using candle wax.

magnetic methods of recovering gold:


- magnetic coated gold 1980s research in Colorado with iron carbonyl.

gravitational methods of recovering gold:


gold sluices - some are able to catch very fine gold
- riffled sluices 1960s-1970s research in China and USSR.
- flat bar riffles 1980s research in Yukon, 1990s in Mongolia.
- angle-iron riffles 1980s research in Canada.
- expanded metal grating riffles 1980s research in Canada.
- expanded metal mesh riffles 1980s research in Canada.
- McCanns small sluice 1980s research in California.

- Damn Fine Sluice 1990s research in New Mexico.


- Popandson sluice 2000s research in USA.
- Loewen electrostatic sluice 2000s research in Alberta.
- Cleangold sluice 1990s research in Oregon.
- hydraulic riffles 1980s research in New Zealand and Canada.

gold jigs - recover nuggets as well as some fine gold


- simple jigs 1970s research in China.
- Pan-American (PAN-AM) duplex jig Alaska tests.
- Cleaveland/IHC jig 1980s research in USA and Holland.
- Gekko in-line pressure jig (IPJ) 1990s research in Australia.
- Kelsey centrifugal jig 1980s research in Australia.

gold centrifuges - rather good at catching very fine gold


- Knudsen bowl Alaska tests.
- Gilkey bowl Alaska tests.
- Neffco bowl 1970s research in Utah.
- Yunxi bowl 1960s-90s research in Yunnan.
- Knelson bowl 1980s research in British Columbia.

Knelson concentrator

- Falcon C bowl 1980s research in British Columbia.

Falcon concentrator

- Falcon SB bowl 1990s research in British Columbia.


- Itomak bowl 1990s research in Novosibirsk.

Falcon Superbowl

Itomak concentrator

- Younge horizontal centrifuge 1980s research in British Columbia.


- Axzia-Mozley MGS centrifuge 1980s research in Cornwall.

gold helix - thanks to Archimedes screw


- helix wheel (gold wheel) 1900s research in Colorado.
- helix cylinder 1980s research in British Columbia.
- helix belt 2000s research in Canada and USA.

gold tables - old devices, getting better


- Wilfley shaking tables 1890s research in Colorado.
- shaking tables 1960s-1970s research in China.
- shaking tables 1960s research in USSR.
- BGS shaking table 1990s research in UK.
- Gemeni table 1980s research in Colorado.

Multi-gravity sep.

- U-Tech reverse polarity table 1990s research in Arizona.


- Goltron machine 1990s research in Utah.
- Bartles-Mozley orbital tables 1970s research in Cornwall.

pinched sluices - very useful, especially as a cone


- pinched sluice historical usage.
- Reichert cone 1960s research in Australia.

gold spirals - quite good at catching fine gold


- Humphrey spirals 1940s research in Colorado.
- Mark-7 Reichert spirals 1980s research in USA.

elutriated sludge tanks - not jigs, and maybe better!


- Duke E-tank 1970s research in Georgia.
- Graefe E-tank (Keene Hydromatic Jig) 1980s research in California.
- Pyramid E-tank (Pyramid Jig) 1990s research in California.
elutriation towers - remarkable at catching fine gold!
- Lashley ASAT Elutriation tower 1980s research in New Mexico.
- Osterberg E-tower (Quick Gold Separator) 1980s research in California.
- reflux classifier 2000s research in Australia.
- Ecologic E-tower (Ecologic Concentrator) 2000s research in New Zealand.

compound water cyclones - dewater or catch fine gold!


- Visman Compound Water Cyclone (CWC) 1970s research in Yukon.

vibrating belts (vanners) - may catch fine gold rather well!


- Bartles crossbelt 1970s research in Cornwall.
- Lemmon vanner 1980s research in the Yukon.

Where to find out more...


-

join the ALASKA GOLD FORUM, read the posts and post a question!
send us an EMAIL and we will be pleased to hear from you.
have a look at the references on gold recovery listed below.
IF YOU KNOW A METHOD TO ADD, PLEASE EMAIL US!.

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Mercury amalgamation of gold

Operation
Mercury is sourced from on-site recycling of waste
plus mercury from traders from Hg mines (e.g. China and
Kyrgyzstan) and Hg waste exporters (e.g. Spain and USA)
[20]. In Mongolia some is sold by panners recovering
mercury [29,30,31]. Mercury is added in four situations:

Figure 13.

Mercury amalgamation typically recovers in excess of


90% of the gold content of a placer gravel or placer
concentrate. Mercury amalgamation is effective only for
gold particles larger than 60-70 [12]. For mercury
amalgamation to be effective, preconditions apply:

MERCURY-GOLD AMALGAM

Soft bead of HgAu amalgam ready for firing off the mercury to
leave gold. (photo: Peter Appel of GEUS)

Until 50 years ago, mercury (Hg) was the method-ofchoice for industrial-scale recovery of hardrock gold, and
to a lesser degree for recovery of placer gold also.
Since then, with the increased recognition of the
harmful impact of mercury on human health and
ecosystems, mercury use by companies and recreational
miners has become strictly controlled and in some regions
banned and eliminated. Mercury has been virtually
eliminated in industrial placer gold mines in the USA,
Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Russian Federation,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Yet mercury is
prevalent in large placer gold mines in South/Central
America, Africa and China.
Companies shun mercury for six interlocking reasons:

the gold
mercury
mercury
the gold
the gold

particle must have a clean surface available;


must be put in direct contact with the gold particle;
must be clean enough;
must be already liberated from the matrix, OR
has its surface exposed to adhere to the mercury.

After amalgamation, the resulting lumps of amalgam


are retrieved by squeezing out excess mercury through a
fine fabric or chamois leather. The amalgam paste is
retrieved by hand and the mercury driven off by heating to
leave a residue of impure gold containing traces of mercury.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Mercury amalgamation is entrenched as the global
norm for gold recovery from concentrates by artisanal
placer gold miners. Mercury has been eliminated amongst
placer mining companies in the former Soviet Union and is
highly restricted, strictly controlled and virtually eliminated
in industrial and recreational placer mining in the west.

human health of employees and local people;


environmental protection;
insurance risks and liabilities;
legal prohibition;
viable alternatives to mercury now exist; and
mercury is ineffective at recovering gold <70 [12].

Figure 14.

adding Hg to a milling device (e.g. Muller mill = edge mill) to


capture gold and leave amalgam in the milled residue;
adding Hg to a pan, sluice, centrifuge, Hg-centrifuge (forced
amalgamator) or other device to assist the capture of gold;
adding Hg to concentrate to recover gold without the time
and trouble of upgrading the concentrate further; and
adding Hg to devices to recover gold lost to the tailings.

GOLD RECOVERY BY MERCURY AMALGAMATION

Mercury is ineffective at amalgamating with gold smaller than 70 or larger than 1.5mm [12]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Cyanide chemical leaching of gold

Operation
The sodium cyanide (NaCN) is either in a dry solid or
liquid form, sourced from specialised manufacturers.
1st stage leaching gold into solution
A weak cyanide solution is prepared, usually 0.020.05%, and must be kept strongly alkaline (pH 10-11).
Cyanide leaching can be by different methods:

Figure 15.

CYANIDE LEACHING

A Chinese operation near Zuunkharaa in north Mongolia, leaching


fine gold from mercury-laden tailings of edge mills. (photo:
Jrgen Hartwig of Projekt-Consult)

Cyanide leaching has been used to recover gold since


the 1890s but only since the 1960s with the advent of
heap leaching has cyanide become the method-of-choice
for leaching gold from milled hardrock, and has potential
for leaching gold from placer concentrates.
Cyanidation uses a very weak cyanide solution to
dissolve (leach) fine gold into solution, and then
precipitates it as easy-to-recover gold. It leaches gold that
due to flatness, small size or attached quartz is lost by
simple gravitational devices or mercury.
Cyanide has risks if handled carelessly or gains
access to streams or wells. The cyanide solution must be
kept strongly alkaline to prevent the generation of highly
toxic hydrogen cyanide gas. A problem is cyanide vapour
rising from ponds. Such concerns have triggered the gold
industry to seek cost-effective alternatives [32]
Coarse gold typical of most placers takes too long to
leach. Marcello Veiga noted that for a 0.21mm gold
particle to dissolve in cyanide took over 60 hours!

Figure 16.

percolation leaching very weak cyanide solution percolates


down through a vat of concentrate. Commonly used for
ground hardrock ore, but also successful in tests on placer
gold concentrates in Alaska by Cleland Conwell [33];
agitated leaching very weak cyanide solution is added to
vats that are agitated by paddles or by blowing in
compressed air to keep the material in suspension; and
heap leaching very weak cyanide solution percolates down
through crushed/milled ore heaped in a heap basin lined
with leach-proof materials e.g. clay, asphalt or tarpaulin.

2nd stage recovering gold from solution


Having leached the gold and dissolved it into solution
as gold cyanide complexaqueous, the solid gold is recovered
by a choice of methods, such as traditional methods
tested on placer gold concentrates in Alaska [33]:

absorption by activated carbon 99.85% Au recovery;


absorption by ion-exchange resin 96.31% Au recovery; or
precipitation by zinc dust 99% recovery.

The zinc dust method, as typified by the Merill-Crowe


process, first removes oxygen from the cyanide solution
and then mixes in a fine zinc powder and recovers the fine
gold precipitate (<50) on a precoat filter.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The author is unaware of the cyanide leaching being
used at large-scale placer gold mines. Yet for small-scale
and artisanal mining, cyanide leaching is now widespread
for hardrock ores and difficult lateritic ores in Peru,
Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Philippines and China.

GOLD RECOVERY BY CYANIDE LEACHING

Cyanide can dissolve (leach) >90% of very fine gold, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. [22] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Chlorine chemical leaching of gold


Frothing and foaming may push off the lid causing
spills, especially if the concentrate has calcite or dolomite
as vein material, rocks (e.g. limestone) or coatings. The
foaming is carbon dioxide CO2 gas liberated when HCl
dissolves carbonate.
When dissolution seems over, the lidded bucket is
stirred again and left overnight to allow the process to
terminate. Next day the acidity is checked by pH paper
(litmus test). If not slightly acid then the acid was
completely used, so more 15% HCl is added until the
process is complete. Then the bucket is stood for several
hours to settle, and surplus water gently tipped away.

Chlorine had been used to recover gold for a couple


of hundred years, notably to leach gold from residues of
Hg amalgamation. Later chlorination found favour in large
gold mining operations in Australia and the USA but has
now largely disappeared [34]. Chlorination is safer and
simpler than cyanide, and can challenge mercury.
By the 1970s, chorination had been largely forgotten.
Yet, as noted by WWF-Guianas (www.wwfguianas.org), a
basic version of chlorination could replace amalgamation
and cyanide, and the following account is based largely on
their report [35]. Two common chemicals are required:

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bleach 14-16% sodium hypochlorite NaOCl (household


bleach) but products often have additives that may interfere
with the process. Training and precautions are ESSENTIAL.
hydrochloric acid 30% HCl strength, as for cleaning
swimming pools. Training and precautions are ESSENTIAL.

1st stage leaching gold into solution


A plastic pole is used to make a hollow in the
concentrate, and the bleach gently stirred in. Shortly after,
the 30% HCl is poured in, taking MAXIMUM precautions,
stirring the concentrate with the pole.
Gold is dissolved (leached) by attack by nascent
chorine to form gold chloride (AuCl2) in solution:
goldsolid + sodium hypochloriteaqueous + hydrochloric acidaqueous
= gold chlorideaqueous + sodium chlorideaqueous + waterliquid

However bleach (sodium hypochorite solution) forms


comparatively stable trihalomethanes (THMs) and
haloacetic acids (HAAs) claimed to be carcinogenic and
posing other health risks [36]. Only in 2001 was this
addressed by Mintexs iGoli method, as discussed in a
later section [37-40].

2nd stage recovering gold from solution


The liquid is decanted from the bucket and filtered.
The filtrate includes leached gold as gold chlorideaqueous.
To precipitate the gold from the pregnant solution,
several methods are available: sodium metabisulphate,
zinc metal (chunks, bars or powder), oxalic acid,
ferrosulphate or sodium nitrate. Sodium metabisulphate
was used by WWF-Guianas [35]. Zinc often has cadmium
(Cd) as impurity that is toxic if released.

Operation
The floor is sealed, and a tap plus plastic garden
hose kept ready to flush spillages of bleach and acid. The
operators must be trained and clad in rubber gloves,
rubber apron, laboratory eye-protectors and rubber boots.
Preparation removal of carbonates
The first task is to dissolve carbonates as they can
interfere with leaching gold. A stock of STRONG 30% HCl
is added to water to produce 15% dilute HCl. The
concentrate is put in a lidded plastic bucket and 15% HCl
added to submerge the concentrate, using a plastic rod to
stir. A long handle cut from a plastic sweeping brush is
ideal.

Figure 17.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Chlorination is a neglected method for recovering
gold from placer concentrates and the author is unaware
of any companies using this method, although some
artisanal placer miners may be doing so.

GOLD RECOVERY BY CHLORINATION

Chlorination can dissolve (leach) about 90% of gold <300 but is too slow for leaching larger gold. [35] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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HGP leaching 2000s research in New Jersey

Operation

Figure 138.

The Haber gold process (HGP) is, in many respects,


similar to the cyanide method in the recovery of hardrock
gold, but acting faster and without raising any significant
environmental issues. Both methods rely on chemicallybased gold extraction technology that makes use of a
lixiviant (extracting solution) to leach gold into solution
from the ore.
Having rapidly and efficiently leached the gold into
solution, the HGP uses essentially the same gold-capturing
method as the cyanide method in order to recover the
gold by precipitation, such as the well-known MerrillCrowe and carbon methods.

HABER GOLD PROCESS

A mobile test unit for the Haber Gold Process (HGP).


(photo: courtesy of Haber Inc www.habercorp.com)

The Haber gold process (HGP) was developed by


Norman Haber of New Jersey for hardrock gold ores, but it
has potential for placer gold recovery. The HGP is a
chemical leaching process using a non-toxic lixiviant
(extracting solution) of proprietary composition. Haber Inc
(www.habercorp.com) says the chemicals used are
readily available.
About 100 tons of different types of gold ore have
been processed in small-scale HGP pilot plants which are
claimed to extract gold in bulk in significantly less time
than with cyanide. The tested ores responded much faster
with the HGP. Reagent costs are similar to cyanide but the
costs of the HGP are claimed to be an order of magnitude
lower than for a cyanide system.
Haber Inc. claims the following advantages of HGP
leaching over cyanide leaching:

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Haber gold process (HGP) is undergoing
commercialisation trials in Ghana for applications to
combat and replace mercury usage by thousands of
artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASM). Initial
progress has been very encouraging and publication of
detailed results is awaited with interest.

routinely recovers more gold;


processing rates are significantly faster;
effective with more types of gold ore; and
overall cost of processing is same or less.

Figure 139.

hardrock ore the rock is first crushed and milled to 80-120


mesh (130-200) an advantage over using cyanide that
typically requires milling to at least 200 mesh (74).
Therefore it seems highly likely that HGP will prove effective
at recovering gold less than 200 in size.
placer ore with placers there is no requirement to mill the
ore, as the commercial gold content is free gold. The Haber
Gold Process should be effective for placer concentrates
screened at 1mm or even 5mm, for a spherical gold particle
of 200 diameter has hydraulic equivalence to a spherical
magnetite particle twice this diameter and a quartz particle
several times this diameter. The Haber Gold Process should
be effective at recovering fine gold in the tailings of
conventional wash-plants.

GOLD RECOVERY BY HGP LEACHING generalised

Recovery of placer gold by the Haber gold process (HGP) based on information from Haber Inc. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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iGoli chlorine leaching 2000s research in South Africa

The iGoli Mercury-free Gold Extraction Process was


invented during the lat few years by the Small Scale
Mining and Beneficiation Division (SSMB) of Mintek in
South Africa (www.mintex.co.za).
The iGoli process is designed to leach gold from
>0.1% gold concentrate to produce 99.9% gold product.
The iGoli process is a modern version of chlorination,
and uses a mixture of pool acid (dilute hydrochloric acid),
bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and sodium metabisulphate
to leach and recover metallic gold [38,39,187].

Operation
1st stage leaching gold into solution
The process equipment is made of PVC and other
plastics, as chlorine in the leach would attack mild steel
and other metals. Use of plastics allows transparent
vessels allowing the operator to witness the progress.
The feed is of finely screened concentrate with a
grade of >0.1% gold. A batch is added to the reaction
vessel where the gold is dissolved (leached) by a mixture
of pool acid (dilute hydrochloric acid) and bleach (sodium
hypochlorite). Gold is leached by attack by nascent
chorine to form gold chloride (AuCl2) in solution:
goldsolid + sodium hypochloriteaqueous + hydrochloric acidaqueous
= gold chlorideaqueous + sodium chlorideaqueous + waterliquid

Assessment of concentrate
Tests by Mintex show that concentrates from
different areas require slightly different recipes for the
iGoli process. Mintek SSMB requires a 2-kilo sample of
concentrate containing at least 1gram/ton to determine
the optimum recipe [187]. In some placers and a few
hardrock ores, carbonates are present in such abundance
that they interfere with leaching gold and have to be first
removed [35].

Leaching the gold usually takes a number of hours.


Any fumes that may form are scrubbed in the
attached vessel using sodium hydroxide solution.
2nd stage precipitating gold from solution
Once the gold has dissolved, the contents of the
reaction chamber are filtered to remove the solids.
The pregnant solution is mixed with sodium
metabisulphite in the precipitation vessel and manually
stirred. If properly done, a gold powder of up to 99%
purity is obtained that may be turned into a gold disc just
by hitting it with a hammer [38,39,187].
3rd stage waste treatment
The solid waste from the iGoli process is neutralised
using lime or limestone with apatite added if necessary to
destroy or precipitate base metals and ferrometals.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The iGoli process is new, but is gaining interest in
South Africa and elsewhere among artisanal and smallscale miners as an alternative to mercury amalgamation.

Figure 140.

GOLD RECOVERY BY IGOLI CHORINE LEACHING

Recovery of placer gold by the iGoli mercury-free gold extraction process [38,39,187]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Iodine chemical leaching of gold

Iodine leaching had been widely used to recover gold


in the late 1800s and early 1900s, then dwindled with the
rise in popularity of cyanide leaching and mercury
amalgamation, and the high cost of iodine. Unlike
chlorination, recycling of leachate is of paramount
importance for commercial viability of the method. High
rates of recycling of iodine can be achieved although
requiring additional plant layout. Fortunately iodine is a
good lixiviant for gold so only very low concentrations of
iodine are required. Three methods are noted below.
The Prichard method of iodine leaching was invented
by Loius M. Pritchard of Idaho and patented in 1907 (US
#861,535) and uses an excess of iodine dissolved in
potassium iodide in aqueous solution. The gold so
dissolved is recovered by adding mercury which reduces
the gold in solution to a metallic state whereupon it forms
an amalgam that is then washed free. But the Prichard
method is unsatisfactory in failing to precipitate colloidal
gold, and gold recovery is sometimes only 25%.
The Harrison method of iodine leaching was invented
by George D. Harrison of Detroit and patented in 1942
(US #2,304,823). It was said to be effective with placer
concentrates and difficult ores such as platinum ores and
gold telluride ores. The lixiviant is an aqueous solution of
iodine and potassium iodide, plus nitric acid to prevent the
formation of insoluble gold salts.
An in-situ method of iodine leaching of gold ore was
invented by Kent McGrew and Jack Murphy of Wyoming
and patented in 1985 (US #4,557,759) as a safer
alternative to in-situ cyanide leaching. The gold leached by
the iodine is recovered by activated charcoal, and the iodine
regenerated for re-use by electrochemical oxidation.
E-goldprospecting (www.e-goldprospecting.com) has
a good account of the pros and cons of iodine leaching.
An updated tincture method of iodine leaching was
invented in 2006 [40] and is dealt with in a later section.

Figure 18.

Operation
The Harrison method in outline is as follows. First a
test batch of 0.43 kilos of ore is reduced to a <50-75
powder and leached without any preliminary roasting step.
1st stage leaching gold into solution
To prepare the leachate, 3.8 kilos of solid potassium
iodide are added to four litres of water and then 1.9 kilos
of iodine crystals added. The water is agitated until all the
crystals dissolve. Then 0.45 litres of concentrated nitric acid
is added in small steps with agitation. The leachate consists
of water, potassium iodide, hydroiodic acid, free iodine and
potassium nitrate able to completely dissolve all tellurides
and selenides, and sulphides of gold present.
The ore is added to the leachate and agitated for an
hour to form a pregnant solution. This is filtered and the
residue washed in a concentrated solution of potassium
iodide to dissolve insoluble silver iodide, until no yellow
precipitate remains. The wash water is thoroughly mixed
with the filtered pregnant solution.
2nd stage recovering gold from solution
Mercury is added to the pregnant solution to form
amalgams of gold, silver and base metals. This residue is
filtered off and to it is added a hot solution of four parts
concentrated nitric acid and one part water to prevent the
gold becoming colloidal. After cooling for 30 minutes, the
gold is recovered in a furnace.
Some gold and other precious metals remain in the
filtrate. This is treated with nitric acid (see patent for
details) and the gold precipitated is recovered by filtration.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Iodine leaching is a neglected method for recovering
placer gold and the author is unaware of any companies,
recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

GOLD RECOVERY BY IODINE LEACHING

Iodine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Bromine chemical leaching of gold

Bromine was fairly popular for recovering gold in the


late 1800s and early 1900s but declined in the face of
competition from cyanide and mercury amalgamation.
Some bromine leaching methods are outlined below.
The Schaeffer method of bromine leaching was
invented by Charles A. Schaeffer of New York State and
patented in 1882 (US #267,723). Bromine in aqueous
solution is used to leach the gold as gold bromide in
solution over 24 hours. Silver bromide forms as sludge.
The gold is recovered by precipitation by adding oxalic
acid or iron sulphate to the pregnant solution. By putting
sludge into solution with sodium or calcium hyposulphite,
silver can be precipitated by adding calcium sulphide.
Bromine is a highly corrosive fuming liquid generating a
suffocating vapour, making this method hazardous.
The Engelhardt method of bromine leaching was
invented by Ernest C. Engelhardt of South Dakota and
patented in 1893 (US #509,368) and uses bromine in
dilute hydrochloric acid to leach the gold as gold bromide
in solution. Adding acid increases the solubility of bromine
from 2-3%vol to 13-15%vol and the process shortened.
The MacArthur method of bromine leaching was
invented by John S. MacArthur of Scotland and patented
in 1889 (US #411,047) and uses perbromide of iron in
aqueous solution to leach the gold as gold bromide in
solution in a vat heated close to boiling point. Silver,
copper, lead and zinc must be removed first by ferric salts.
The leach is reused until exhausted; then the perbromide
of iron is regenerated using bromine. Gold is recovered by
filtering the pregnant solution through coke or charcoal.
The Fink and Putnam method of bromine leaching
was invented by Colin G. Fink and Garth Louis Putnam of
New York and patented in 1942 (US #2,283,198). They
discovered leaching gold in aqueous bromine solutions is
accelerated by chloride and bromide ions.

Figure 19.

Operation
The Fink and Putnam method in outline is as follows.
First the ore is finely powdered and preferably roasted.
Carbonates need not be removed as bromine solvents can
dissolve gold in the presence of carbonates.
1st stage leaching gold into solution
Bromine and sodium bromide are sourced from
specialised suppliers. Elemental bromine is particularly
hazardous and extremely difficult to store or transport
safely. Sodium bromide is more stable and cheaper.
The powered ore is added to water in a leach tank.
The leachate is prepared by adding sodium chloride @
100 grams/litre, sodium bromide @ 1gram/litre and finally
chlorine @ 1.4 grams/litre. Throughout the first 15
minutes, sulphuric acid is added @ 1.25 grams/litre to
maintain acidity. The reactive mixture is allowed to stand
for a further ten minutes for leaching to finish. In tests 23carat gold leaf dissolved in barely four minutes, and only
11.1% was lost to the tailings.
2nd stage recovering gold from solution
To recover the gold from the pregnant solution,
several methods are available: sodium metabisulphate,
zinc metal (chunks, bars or powder), oxalic acid,
ferrosulphate or sodium nitrate.
The solvent power of the barren liquid is restored by
either adding chlorine or a hypochlorite and a mineral
acid. According to the patent, Except for losses due to

vaporisation and solution left in the tailings, practically all


of the free and combined bromine is recovered.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Bromine leaching is a neglected method for recovering
placer gold [41], and the author is unaware of any
companies, recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BROMINE LEACHING

Bromine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Bromine leaching 1990s research in Indiana


An innovative alternative invented by Ahmad Dadgar
and Charles C. Shin of Great Lakes Chemical Corporation
in Indiana and patented in 1990 (US #4,936,910). This
recovers gold by passing the pregnant gold solution
through acid-washed Sphagnum peat moss in a suitable
contacting apparatus.
The sphagnum peat moss (live and dead) is chopped
and screened to retain the 75 to 1.5mm fraction. This
enables water to pass through. The screened moss is
washed with a protic acid such as 0.5-1.0M HCl (10 grams
of dried sieved moss per 100mL HCl) and then rinsed with
deionised water until the filtrate reaches pH4.
The acid-treated sphagnum moss is packed in a
column and the pregnant gold solution passed through in
the manner of a typical ion-exchange column.
Experiments prove acid-treated sphagnum peat moss
is able to recover about 32 milligrams of gold per gram of
moss dry-weight when it is then at maximum capacity.
The process is very rapid (10-20 minutes) and is
indifferent to temperature variation in the range of 20 to
50C. At least 99.9% of the gold contained in the leachate
can be recovered by the sphagnum moss.

The Dadgar method of bromine leaching was invented


by Ahmad Dadgar and co-workers of Great Lakes
Chemical Corporation in Indiana and patented in 1997 (US
#5,620,585). It may yet help to revive interest in bromide
leaching, using perbromides with desirable characteristics
such as high bromine levels, low bromine vapour pressure
and stability even in freezing conditions.

Operation
The Dadgar method in outline is as follows.
The ore is reduced to a fine powder and leached
without any preliminary roasting step.
1st stage leaching gold into solution
Bromine is sourced from specialised suppliers as
sodium bromide, as elemental bromine is particularly
hazardous and extremely difficult to store or transport
safely. Sodium bromide is more stable and cheaper.
The powdered ore is delivered as a continuous feed
to the first of two cascade agitated leach tanks where it is
mixed with an aqueous bromide solution. The resulting
slurry overflows from the first leach tank to the second
leach tank and overflows again to a thickener. Solids
produce a sludge that passes through a countercurrent
washing system of several thickeners, the final thickener
being fed with an aqueous washing medium. Solids collect
in the bottom of the final thickener as tailings, while the
liquid fraction is a pregnant gold solution.

3rd stage final recovery of gold for sale


The sphagnum moss is incinerated in a muffle
furnace at 750C to recover the metallic gold.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Dadgar method has potential for recovering fine
placer gold from concentrates but awaits field tests and
promotion to placer companies, recreational miners and
artisanal miners.

2nd stage recovering gold from solution


The pregnant gold solution can be passed through
ion exchange columns, as is usual, to recover the gold.

Figure 118.

GOLD RECOVERY BY DADGAR METHOD OF BROMINE LEACHING

Bromine can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Thiocyanate chemical leaching of gold

Thiocyanate leaching was invented in the 1890s but


was largely ignored due to the popularity of iodine and
bromine leaching, and the rise of cyanide leaching.
Thiocyanate leaching is particularly effective on
difficult sulphide-rich refractory hardrock gold ore. This is
because thiocyanate leaching requires an extremely acidic
environment and breaking down the sulphides in the ore
generates highly acidic solutions.
The Kendall method of thiocyanate leaching was
invented by Edward E. Kendall of New York State and
patented in 1899 and 1901 (US #625,564 and #671,704).
Ammonium or potassium thiocyanate is used to leach
silver and gold, and the pregnant solution directed to an
agitated trough where potassium sulphide is added to
precipitate silver sulphide that is recovered by settling and
filtering. The supernatant liquid is directed to a reaction
tank for gold recovery using comminuted zinc metal.
The Barrick method of thiocyanate leaching was
invented by Kenneth T. Thomas, Christopher Fleming,
Andrew R. Marchbank and David Dreisinger of Canada and
patented in 1988 (US #5,785,736), the patent assigned to
Barrick Gold Corporation of Toronto.
The Wan-LeVier method of thiocyanate leaching was
invented by Rong Yu Wan and K. Marc LeVier of Colorado
and a patent was applied for in 2004 (US #0197249ki). Acid
thiocyanate solution is used to leach precious metals as a
precious metal-thiocyanate complex. The leach solution
may contain a large molar ratio of ferric iron to
thiocyanate. The precious metal is removed from the
pregnant thiocyanate solution by transferring the precious
metals to precious metal-cyanide complex and then
loading this onto absorbent material. The residual cyanide
in the thiocyanate leach solution is converted to
thiocyanate for further leaching.
E-goldprospecting (www.e-goldprospecting.com) has
a good account of thiocyanate leaching.

Figure 20.

Operation
The Wan-LeVier method is summarised as follows.
The thiocyanate is sourced from specialised suppliers.
Preparation oxidation of sulphides
The ore is finely powdered by milling and added to a
heap leach facility. Bio-oxidation of sulphides is
accomplished by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Leptospirillum
ferrooxidans, Sulfobocillus thermosulfidooxidans, Sedula,
Metallospheara or Acidianus brierley as in US patents
#5,246,486, #5,332,559, #5,834,294, #5,127,942 and
#5,244,493. Bio-oxidation takes about 90 days much
faster than with cyanide leaching as acidic products are
not a problem.
1st stage leaching gold into solution
The leach solution is first conditioned to adjust the
concentration and molar ratio of dissolved thiocyanate and
dissolved ferric iron, acidity and temperature. The
leachate is extremely acidic, ranging from pH 1 to 3.
The leach solution is introduced to the milled ore and
leaching takes from days to months in a heaped leach
facility, or hours in a heated pressurised autoclave.
2nd stage recovering gold from solution
The pregnant thiocyanate leach solution contains
dissolved gold in the form of gold-thiocyanate complex,
and the pregnant solution is removed for further
processing to recover the dissolved gold.
Residual solids depleted in gold may be subjected to
additional metal recovery operations or to further
treatment for disposal in an appropriate manner.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Thiocyanate leaching is a neglected method for
recovering placer gold and the author is unaware of any
companies, recreational miners or artisanal miners doing so.

GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOCYANATE LEACHING

Thiocyanate can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Thiosulphate leaching 1970s research in Canada

Thiosulphate leaching has the potential to replace


cyanide leaching, being relatively cheap, environmentally
less hazardous and capable of leaching gold from difficult
refractory hardrock ores such as carbonaceous or Carlin
types. In contrast, cyanide cannot leach gold from
refractory ores without a preliminary step [69].
Thiosulphate leaching is by sodium thiosulphate
Na2S2O3, an essentially non-toxic colourless crystalline
compound that is more familiar as the pentahydrate,
Na2S2O3.5H2O known as sodium hyposulphite or hypo as
used with silver in traditional photography.
Although hypo had been known since the early 1900s
to be useful in leaching gold, it was only in the 1970s that
it was subjected to detailed study, leading to a patent
being awarded to Roman N. Genik-Sas-Berezowsky,
Verner Sefton and Lynton Gormely of Canada in 1978 (US
#4,070,182) assigned to Sherritt Gordon Mines Ltd.
For three decades thiosulphate leaching has been
heralded as being close to challenging cyanide leaching
[69]. It has been the subject of four to five US patents
every year since the late 1970s and the focus of hundreds
of research papers. In spite of this, thiosulphate leaching
has not yet been properly commercialised. A breakthrough
seems tantalisingly close as shown by the patent awarded
to Jinxing Ji, Christopher Fleming, Paul West-Sells and
Ralph Hackl of Canada and patented in 2006 (US
#7,066,983) assigned to Placer Dome Inc.
The thiosulphate method uses a solution of hypo
Na2S2O3.5H2O in the presence of an oxidising agent to
dissolve (leach) fine gold as a strong complex
[Au(S2O3)2]3-, and then to precipitate easy-to-recover
gold. The preferred oxidising agent is copper ions. In
contrast, thiourea leaching uses ferric iron (Fe3+) whereas
cyanide leaching uses oxygen direct from the air.
Adding more oxidising agent is unnecessary for a Cubearing ore.

Figure 54.

Operation
1st stage leaching gold into solution
Sodium thiosulphate pentahydrate Na2S2O3.5H2O
(hypo) is usually supplied in powder form sourced from
specialised manufacturers. A solution of hypo is prepared,
and then ammonia added to make the leachate strongly
alkaline (10 to 10.5pH). Copper ions must also be present
as essential oxidising agent. The ammonia and copper are
catalyst-like for they are neither produced nor consumed
but recycled. In practice, copper may precipitate cupric
sulphide that inhibits leaching, while ammonia may escape
Hypo tends to be unstable, avoidable by adding
sulphite ions to regenerate the thiosulphate and prevent
silver precipitating too early as insoluble silver sulphide.
The milled ore is added to the thiosulphate leach with
a pulp density of 40 to 45% solids. Hypo consumption
may be as much as 30 kilos per ton or ore, but can be cut
to 13 kilos/ton by adding reducing agents as chelates.
2nd stage recovering gold from solution
The pregnant thiosulphate leach solution contains
dissolved gold in the form of gold-thiosulphate complex,
and the pregnant solution is removed for further
processing to recover the dissolved gold.
Activated carbon or resins are ineffective for
recovering the gold from the pregnant leach solution.
Instead gold is recovered by cementation method
using zinc, iron or copper. Under controlled conditions,
gold recovery from suitable ores can exceed 90%.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The author is unaware of thiosulphate leaching being
used at large-scale placer gold mines, large or small. The
main deterrent is the uncertain technology, variable
results and difficulty of controlling the process efficiently.

GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOSULPHATE LEACHING

Thiosulphate can leach >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Thiourea chemical leaching of gold

Thiourea has been heralded for decades as an


alternative to cyanide, but as yet few if any industrial
operations have proved to be a commercial success. In
theory, thiourea can be used to recover gold from milled
hardrock, and has potential for leaching gold from placer
concentrates. Thiourea leaching can proceed four or five
times faster than cyanide leaching, making thiourea more
effective at dissolving large gold particles, such as those
typical of placer gold. [42]
Thiourea CS(NH2)2 is an organic compound that is
classed by INCHEM/WHO as, toxic. Known animal

Operation
Thiourea is usually supplied in powder form sourced
from specialised manufacturers. A weak solution of
thiourea is prepared, and the first stage is the oxidation of
thiourea to form formamidine disulphide:
2CS(NH2)2 + 2Fe3+ = C2S2(NH)2(NH2)2+ 2Fe2++ 2H+
The role of the formamidine is to oxidise the gold to
form a gold-thiourea complex:
+
2+
2Au + C2S2(NH)2(NH2)2 + 2CS(NH2)2 + 2H = 2Au(CS(NH2)2)

carcinogen and probable human carcinogen. May cause


irreversible effects. May affect fertility. May be fatal if
swallowed. May cause allergic skin reaction. May cause
skin ulcers, liver damage. Handle as a carcinogen. Gloves,
safety glasses, good ventilation. Protect against spills and
the spread of dust. An end product is cyanamide that

Importantly, formamidine acts as an oxidiser as well


as a complexing agent, supplying about 50% of the
ligands to the complexation and due to this thiourea
leaching of gold is faster than cyanide leaching [43]. The
overall equation for thiourea leaching is:
2Au + 4CS(NH2)2 + 2Fe3+ = 2Au(CS(NH2)2++ 2Fe2+

contains the cyanide radical and reacts with acids to form


a highly toxic gas. Cyanamide is toxic if swallowed,
harmful to the skin and is an eye irritant.
The thiourea method uses a weak solution of
thiourea in the presence of an oxidising agent to dissolve
(leach) fine gold into solution, and then precipitate it as
easy-to-recover gold.
In thiourea leaching of gold, ferric iron (Fe3+) is used
as an oxidising agent, it being the most effective
compared to alternatives such as hydrogen peroxide,
sodium peroxide, ozone, potassium permanganate and
formamidine disulphide. In contrast, cyanide leaching uses
oxygen as an oxidising agent direct from the air.
Sufficient ferric iron (Fe3+) should already be
liberated and available to make the addition of more
oxidising agent either limited or unnecessary for a highly
oxidised hardrock ore, or in a typical placer ore.

Figure 21.

To drive the equation to the right, thiourea must be


present in excess, and the ratio of complexing and
oxidising agents must be carefully adjusted to avoid
excessive oxidation of the thiourea solution and
consequent excessive use of reagents [43].
In a final step, the formamidine breaks down
irreversibly to cyanamide and elemental sulphur.
The sulphur is a potential problem to the success of
the thiourea method, for it forms a fine grained sticky
coating which can inhibit the leaching of gold.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The author is unaware of thiourea leaching being
used at large-scale placer gold mines, large or small. The
main deterrent is the uncertain technology, variable
results and difficulty of controlling the process efficiently.

GOLD RECOVERY BY THIOUREA LEACHING

Thiourea can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 150, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Nitric acid chemical cleaning of gold

Operation

Figure 22.

The concentrate must be dry and as free of


magnetite as possible. The concentrate is dried by placing
it in a heat-resistant metal pan on a stove. After being
allowed to cool, a magnet removes the magnetite (Fe3O4).
The operator must have special training and wear
protective clothing and eye-protection in accordance with
local regulations and international norms. The acid site
must be out-of-doors in a well-lit fenced off area away
from other people. All non-essential personnel must be
excluded to minimise exposure to risk. Only one operator
is needed, but a second operative should be within 10
metres to respond to any emergency. It should not be
attempted if raining, snowing or in high wind.
The concentrate is put in a heat-resistant, acidresistant, pan on a small stove inside the acid site and
warmed up. Then the operator uses a long-handled pot to
pour hot, concentrated nitric acid into the pan of dry
concentrate. The operator refrains from leaning forward
and must wear protective clothing and eye-protectors.
Immediately reaction starts, the operator steps back and
vacates the area BEFORE heavy brown fumes appear.
The brown fumes are of nitrogen oxides and are
EXTREMELY TOXIC and even trace amounts cause severe
lung problems. The process is exceedingly dangerous.
However, if the process is carried out outdoors in an open
place then the brown fumes are blown away after a few
minutes. After a short time in the atmosphere the brown
fumes disintegrate into harmless nitrogen and oxygen.

NITRIC ACID CLEANING

Extremely toxic fumes being generated by hot concentrated nitric


acid poured onto dry concentrate. After a few seconds the brown
fumes are completely broken down to harmless nitrogen.
Artisanal miners in Kyrgyzstan (photo: Peter Appel of GEUS)

Hot concentrated nitric acid (HNO3) helps to recover


fine gold from concentrates. Peter Appel of the DenmarkGreenland Geological Survey noted the method being
used by artisanal gold miners in Kyrgyzstan to liberate
gold from sulphide ores [18]. It appears over 90% of gold
of 100 to 300 is recoverable, but tests are needed to
confirm what percentage of <100 can be recovered.
However if mercury is present, from previous processing,
from contamination or from native mercury or cinnabar,
then potentially explosive chemicals may form.
Nitric acid has been used in gold recovery for at least
150 years as a minor process step. Paul B. Queneau and
John D. Prater of Utah invented a nitric acid method of
recovering base metals and gold, patented in 1974 (US
#3,793,429) assigned to Kennecott Copper. This method
adds nitric acid continuously to decompose pyrite and
arsenopyrite to liberate copper, gold etc. but achieves only
80% gold recovery, and requires the feed to be <53.
These limitations were overcome by Rein Raudsepp,
Ernest Peters and Morris J.V. Beattie of Vancouver whose
nitric acid method was patented in 1987 (US #4,647,307),
achieving 99.3% gold recovery in laboratory conditions.
However the patented process is complex and it does not
seem to have become commercialised.

Figure 23.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The nitric acid method does not appear to be being
used by placer mining companies but is being used by
artisanal placer gold miners in parts of South America and
elsewhere [45].

GOLD RECOVERY BY NITRIC ACID CLEANING

Nitric acid cleans gold and aids recovery of >90% of 100-300, gold but its effect on <100 gold needs study. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Aqua regia - chemical leaching of gold

Operation

Aqua regia was invented by Iranian alchemist Abu


Musa Jabir ebn Hayyan about 800 A.D. This followed from
his discovery of hydrochloric acid upon mixing common
salt with sulphuric acid.
Aqua regia is a mixture of three to four volumes of
concentrated hydrochloric acid to one volume of
concentrated nitric acid. It is a corrosive, fuming,
aggressive liquid and must only be used by a trained
chemist following strict precautions in a properly equipped
laboratory or outside space, and only after a hazard
analysis has been prepared.
Neither of the acids in aqua regia can dissolve gold,
but in combination are very aggressive in dissolving gold.
The fuming and yellow colour of aqua regia are due
to the reaction of nitric acid HNO3 with hydrogen chloride
form water H20 plus two chemicals that are yellowish and
volatile - nitrosyl chloride NOCl and chlorine Cl2. The
newly-formed nitrosyl chloride decomposes to nitric oxide
NO and chlorine.
Nitric acid HNO3 is a powerful oxidizer, which will
actually dissolve a virtually undetectable amount of gold,
forming gold ions (Au3+).
Ausolid + 3NO3-aq + 6H+aq = Au3+aq + 3NO2 gas + 3H2Oliquid

This text is based on recovering gold from scrap by


Shor International www.shorinternational.com.
The two acids mix quietly avoid splashes, protect
eyes and work in the open or under a fume hood. Both
acids emit acrid fumes. No heat is evolved when mixing
but the aqua regia at once starts to emit chlorine gas
slowly for several days. Never stopper an aqua regia
bottle for chlorine may build up and explode it. The aqua
regia is used immediately, or days or weeks later.
Typically 1-2 kilos of scrap are put in an empty 6-litre
Ehrlenmeyer flask under a fully ventilated fume hood, or
outside. The aqua-regia is added slowly, such as drop-bydrop from a bottle set on a shelf above the reaction flask.
Dangerous fumes of nitrogen oxides are generated;
being heavier than air they require either a very good
fume hood, or for the process to be done outside.
When bubbling ceases and no more brown fumes are
produced then a little hydrochloric acid is added. A further
spurt of activity may occur if the original hydrochloric acid
has been exhausted. When reaction has ceased, the
pregnant solution is poured off into a glass or plastic
container, leaving the solid residue in the reaction vessel.
The process is repeated with more aqua regia until
no bubbling or brown fumes are seen, even if the reaction
vessel is gently warmed and gently agitated. All the gold
has now been dissolved.
The contents of the reaction vessel are vacuum
filtered, and the gold precipitated from the pregnant
solution as described in www.shorinternational.com.

Hydrochloric acid HCl supplies chloride ions (Cl-) in


large amounts which attack the gold to produce
chloraurate anions AuCl4- in solution:
3+
Au aq + 4Cl-aq = AuCl4-aq
This is an equilibrium reaction favouring formation of
chloraurate anions. It results in a removal of gold ions
from solution and allows further oxidation of gold by the
nitric acid, and so more gold is dissolved. In addition, gold
may be oxidized by free chlorine in the aqua regia.

Figure 24.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Aqua regia is rarely, if ever, used by placer gold
miners. A few recreational miners do use aqua regia but it
has not become popular [44].

GOLD RECOVERY BY AQUA REGIA LEACHING

Aqua regia can dissolve (leach) 90-100% of gold even as large as 1mm, but is too aggressive for mining use. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Borax early smelting of gold

Operation

Figure 25.

The artisanal method of early smelting is reported


by Peter Appel from the Philippines, and outlined below.
Hardrock ore is first crushed and milled. The milled
ore is then subjected to gravitational separation to
produce a black sand concentrate with visible gold.
The concentrate (one part) is dried carefully and then
mixed in a very small plastic bag only a few centimetres in
size with borax (three parts). After mixing, a few drops of
water are added.
The plastic bag in put in a pottery bowl serving as a
crucible, and positioned tilted on a few pieces of charcoal.
The mixture of borax and heavy mineral is heated by
a blow torch. The blow torch is gasoline fuelled, is very
cheap and already used by the artisanal miners for
burning amalgam. The heating continues until first the
borax melts and later the gold melts.
Borax depresses the melting point of gold. The
molten gold is heavier than the other heavy minerals
which float off as slag to leave a nice gold pellet.
The entire process only takes a few minutes.

BORAX SMELTING

Smelting concentrate to recover gold in the Philippines. (photo:


Peter Appel of GEUS, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland)

Early smelting is possible on unclean concentrate to


recover fine gold that might be lost if upgrading were to
be attempted by amalgamation or gravitational means.
The early smelting method of recreational miners is
described at www.nuggethunters.org [46,47]. The ore is
screened or milled at 2mm and the black sand soaked in
acidic acid for couple of days to help break down
sulphides, then carefully dried. The flux is of anhydrous
borax Na2B4O7 (5 parts), #70 silica sand SiO2 (40 parts),
soda ash Na2CO3 (10 parts) and sodium nitrate NaNO3
(20 parts) as oxidizer. The ingredients are mixed and
stored in a container and kept dry.
Flux (1-2 parts) is added to the concentrate (1 part)
and mixed well. The mixture is spooned into the crucible
and dampened with rubbing alcohol. The mixture is fired
by the acetylene torch up to 1,100C and the heat kept
until the mixture is molten and a bright yellow white.
The molten material is poured into a cast-iron mould,
requiring special clothes and care [46,47,48].

Figure 26.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Early smelting assisted by borax has been used for
many years by small-scale gold miners in the Benguet
area north of Manila in the Philippines as an alternative to
mercury or cyanide. Elsewhere borax-assisted smelting is
sometimes used by artisanal miners, but only after
mercury amalgamation or cyanide leaching.
Smelting assisted by borax is common among
recreational and industrial gold miners in North America,
Russia and Mongolia upon concentrates that are clean.
But early smelting is advocated for recreational miners by
www.nuggethunters.org [46,47] for recovering fine gold
from concentrates that are not particularly clean.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SMELTING WITH BORAX

Smelting with borax can recover fine gold, but usually only from a clean concentrate. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Bioleaching 1980s research in Wales and California

Operation

Bioleaching is the extraction of metal from its ore by


means of microbes. An introductory account can be read
at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioleaching.
The Pooley method of bioleaching was invented by
Frederick D. Pooley of Wales and patented in 1987 (US
#4,497,778) with limited success.
The Geobiotics method of bioleaching was invented
by Dennis Kleid, William Kohr and Francis Thiobodeau of
California who applied for a patent in 1992, awarded in
1995 (US #5,378,437). It met with greater success. The
method is suitable for ores of grades as low as 0.02 Troy
ounces per ton. Advantages are:

This text is based on the Geobiotics method of


bioleaching as presented in US patent #5,378,437.
Mass cultivation of the chosen micro-organisms is
undertaken in outdoor ponds in a sunlit site close to the
ore body. The culture pond is lined with plastic or
concrete and the water body is 10-30m wide and 20-50m
deep. The culture pond is fitted with a pumping system to
permit harvesting and recirculation of the growth media.
Algae are the most convenient. Each species has
particular tolerance of physical and chemical conditions,
and nutritional requirements including phosphorous,
nitrogen, sulphur, iron, manganese, trace elements and
ions. The pond is kept strongly alkaline, pH7-10, by
adding lime or phosphate buffer. Following guidance of
the patent, annual yields of 40 dry tons per hectare are
possible, and the microbes are sprayed onto the ore from
the pond at the time of maximal cyanide production.
Bioleaching may be done in three settings:

economic: simple and cheap, and few technicians required;


environmental: the microbes are natural and easy to cultivate.

Disadvantages are:

economic: bacterial leaching process is very slow;


environmental: Sulphuric acid and H+ ions can leak and turn
surface water and groundwater acidic, and heavy metals such
as iron, zinc and arsenic be leached by acid mine drainage.

Suitable microbes include:

algae Chlorella vulgaris, Cyanopora paradoxa and


Cyanidium caldarium;
blue-green cyanobacteria Anacystis nidulans;
bacteria Chromobacterium violatum, Chromobacterium
flavum, certain Bacillus species (pyocyaneus, flourescens,
violaceous, mesentericus, nitrificans), certain Pseudomonas
species (aeruginosa, fluorescens, aureofaciens, cyanogena,
liquifaciens, cepacia); and
fungi notably Marasmius oreades (Fairy Rings), the Snow
Mould basidiomycete and some Fusarium species.

Adoption by placer gold miners

An interesting approach is to co-culture microbes:

bacteria producing glycine in bulk;


same bacteria able of absorbing gold-cyanide ion complexes;
micro-organisms liberating methionine in bulk; and
algae able to produce cyanide from a glycine substrate.

Figure 66.

tank bioleaching milled ore in a tank;


heap bioleaching milled ore in a heap; or
in-situ bioleaching blasted ore in situ.

Oxidation of gold to gold-cyanide complexes


commences once the microbes contact the ore, often with
the gold (I) ion [Au+][CN-]2. Biosorption is automatic
and immediate even if the microbes are dead.
The fluid with microbes and biosorbed gold is pumped
into a settling pond or tank at least 3m deep and allowed to
settle, aided by flocculants. The sludge of living and dead
microbes is harvested and the biosorbed gold recovered.

Cyanogenesis is the same in all these microbes, by


the oxidative decarboxylation of the glycine in a process
stimulated by methionine or other methyl-group donors:
NH2CH2COOH J HCN + CO2 + 4[H]

www.mine.mn

Bioleaching has not been adopted by placer gold


miners as it poses too many challenges. Eventually a
simplified version may be acceptable.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BIOLEACHING

Bioleaching can dissolve (leach) >90% of gold smaller than about 75, but is too slow for leaching larger gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Biooxidation 1980s research in British Columbia and California

Biooxidation oxidises both iron and sulphur under


acidic conditions, causing the solubilisation of iron as ferric
(III) ion and sulphide as sulphate ion. This liberates the
encapsulated gold making it accessible to leaching.
During the 1980s, biooxidation became the focus of
intense research effort, offering a low-cost means of
preparing refractory hardrock ores to make them
responsive to leaching such as cyanide leaching.
Biooxidation research continues unabated and a few
milestone patents are outlined below.
The Hackl biooxidation method was invented by
Ralph P. Hackl, Frank W. Wright and Albert Bruynsteyn of
British Columbia, patented in 1991 (US #4,987,081) and
assigned to GB Biotech Inc of British Columbia. The
method cultures of at least three species of bacteria Thiobacillus thiooxidans, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans and
Leptospirillium ferrooxidans. The cultures are subjected to
increasing concentrations of dissolved arsenic and low pH
to raise their tolerance.
The Kohr biooxidation method was invented by
William J. Kohr of California, patented in 1995 (US
#5,573,575) and assigned to Biotech Inc of California.
Refractory sulphide ore is crushed and separated into a
fine and coarse fraction. The coarse fraction is stacked in
a heap, and a concentrate produced from the fine
fraction. Alternatively biooxidation can be assisted by
forming particulates that are then heaped (US
#5,246,486) and polymer agglomeration may be
beneficial (US #5,332,559).
Biooxidation of carbonaceous and carbonaceoussulphidic ores is difficult, and requires a specific carbondeactivating microbial assemblage (US #5,244,493).
The Oxidor column reactor for testing and evaluating
refractory ores was invented by Andrew Carter of Texas
and patented in 2002 (US #6,498,031), assigned to
Oxidor Corporation.

Figure 67.

Operation
The ore is first batch tested to determine if
biooxidation is effective. Batch testing may require six
months due to the time required for the bacteria to adapt
to the substrate and the time gap between inoculation of
the ore and its oxidation. The testing and evaluation can
be accelerated using a device such as the Oxidor column
reactor. Suitable cultures include the following species of
bacteria, either alone or in combination: Thiobacillus
thiooxidans, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Sulfobacillus
thermosulfidooxidans,
Metallosphera
sedula
and
Leptospirillium ferrooxidans.
A bacterial culture is developed that can grow in high
acidity and high metal content. The bacteria suspension is
used to inoculate ore stacked in the open air resting on a
pad system. Biooxidation has a choice of settings:

tank biooxidation - for refractory ores of relatively high grade


heap biooxidation - for refractory ores of relatively low grade.

Typically 180 to 600 days is required to oxidise the


iron and sulphur in the ore. This puts pressure on cashflow, increased the mine footprint and adds to production
costs. Care is needed in the heap design to ensure fine
materials do not plug the voids essential for aeration and
liquid flow. Plugging results in starvation of nutrients,
carbon dioxide and oxygen and uneven distribution of the
bacteria. Adequate air flow is essential to cool the heap
from the exothermic effects of biooxidation.
After biooxidation the resulting oxidised ore is highly
acidic and, for leaching by cyanide must first be treated
with lime to raise the pH substantially.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Biooxidation is inappropriate to placer gold ores as
sulphides are rare and gold is in the form of free particles.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BIOOXIDATION

Biooxidation can oxidise sulphide ores sufficient for leaching. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Gold-binding proteins 2000s in research in Washington

Gold-binding proteins (GBPs) have recently been


recognised as having potential applications in recovering
fine gold and in gold exploration. GBPs are proteins that
have a high specificity and affinity for gold [188].
A research team at the University of Washington led
by Clement Furlong with funding from Placer Dome Inc
investigated gold-binding proteins and registered a patent
in 2005 (US #6,875,254). The patent is highly innovative
but broad-brush in character and the methods it proposes
are not yet commercial. However the speed of advance in
parallel subjects such as immunology and microbiology
may lead to sudden breakthroughs.
The patent stretches the meaning of GBPs to
embrace all gold-specific non-naturally occurring binding
ligand to gold in a protein, polypeptide, peptide, protein
fragment,
oligonucleotide,
carbohydrate,
antibody,
chelating agent, magnetic agent, hydrophobic agent or
any combination of these.
The patent envisages many types of gold recovery
mechanisms involving GBP, or rather binding ligands to
gold, such as:

www.mine.mn

Operation
GBP-enabled magnetic separation of extremely fine
gold particles from magnetite-rich slurry. A magnetic
mineral binding agent including a gold-specific protein is
added to a sample to form a complex of magnetic mineral
and gold. A magnetic field is applied and the complex
removed from the liquid. In a lab test, 3 gold beads were
coated with GBP antibodies and bound to magnetic beads
to form a complex. Being magnetic, the complex was
pulled to the wall of a microcentrifuge in a magnetic field
while the other material settled to the bottom of the tube.
In a very different test, gold was bound to natural
magnetite by means of a reagent with both gold-andmagnetite-binding-domains to form a complex that could
be separated by magnetic methods.
GBP-assisted floatation a GBP is modified to form a
hydrophobic reagent by reacting with valeric anhydride to
form a GBP with C5 hydrophobic tails (C5-GBP). A
laboratory experiment showed C5-GBP bound to extremely
fine gold (micron gold) could reside at the oil-water
interface. However in the authors opinion this result
should be treated with caution for gold itself is
hydrophobic and the merit of adding C5 hydrophobic tails
is not demonstrated.
GBP-assisted microbial extraction and transport is
envisaged for recovering sub-micron gold (<1). The
patent draws attention to strains of Escherichia coli cells
that express an extra-cellular GBP domain will bind small
particles of gold, and then the Escherichia coli can be
induced to follow a chemical gradient of attractants such
as ribose sugar to lead them to a recovery destination.

GBP-enabled magnetic separation to recovering extremely


fine gold particles from magnetite-rich slurry.
GBP-assisted floatation using GBPs modified to form a
hydrophobic reagent.
GBP-assisted microbial recovery of sub-micron gold (<1).

Adoption by placer gold miners


Gold-binding proteins (GBPs) have
demonstrated as being commercially viable.

Figure 142.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD-BINDING PROTEINS (GBPs)

Recovery of gold by gold-binding proteins is not yet commercial but may eventually become so. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

149

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Phytomining 2000s research in New Zealand

Operation

Figure 143.

The gold-bearing soil, such as a natural placer or


more likely an expanse of gold-rich tailings, is first planted
with a plant capable of absorbing gold in solution and
storing it (bioaccumulation).
The plant species needs to be a fast-growing and
high-biomass species. When the crop reaches maturity,
lixiviant chemicals capable of dissolving gold are applied to
the soil that make some of the gold (plus any mercury)
and other toxic metals soluble.
The plants absorb the solutions with the metals and
bioaccumulate the metals in their roots, shoots and
leaves.
The lixiviant chemical may be toxic to animals and
man but harmless to the crop, such as cyanide that may
be broken down in the soil.
After a few days or weeks, the crop is harvested and
processed by incineration to recover gold, mercury and
other metals in the ash.
Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand are
testing the use of common crops such as rapeseed to soak
up toxic contaminants from soil at abandoned gold mining
sites, and to return the land to safe agricultural use. The
idea is that the gold harvested during the operation covers
the cost of clean-up and provides revenue for the
education and training of the communities to create
sustainable incomes by farming the land.

PHYTOMINING

Small-scale field trials of gold phytomining trial in Brazil.


(photo: courtesy of Dr. Chris Anderson of Massey University http://ite.massey.ac.nz/staff/rhaverka/Phytomining.htm)

Phytomining is a still largely experimental. Research


is investigating plants able to grow on toxic soils polluted
by mine waste or from natural high toxic metal anomalies.
Not only is a ground cover of plants produced, but also
some plants absorbed such large amounts of toxic metals
that bioremediation is sometimes possible by cropping
the plants to remove the metals.
The next step has been very recent to investigate if
valuable metals can be mined by cropping such plants, the
plants absorbing the valuable metals front the soil and
so a new scientific line of investigation emerged for which
term phytomining has been coined. The first
experimental success was as commercial production of
nickel metal from plants grown on soils with abnormally
high concentrations of nickel.
Recently there has been some success by New
Zealand researchers with gold recovery from crops of
plants grown on soils with high gold content [189-192]
see: http://ite.massey.ac.nz/staff/rhaverka/Phytomining.htm.

Figure 144.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Phytomining is making rapid progress. The author
suggests several routes to commercialisation may emerge:

GOLD RECOVERY BY ECOLOGIC E-TOWER

phyto-reclamation as an incentive to cleaning up tailings; and


gold recovery from difficult placers, e.g. fine gold in laterites.

Recovery of placer gold by the Ecologic gold concentrator based on manufacturers information. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Agglomeration 1980s research in Australia and China

Operation

Figure 68.

The slurry is piped into a special reactor. Here the


hydrophobic-oleophilic properties of gold induce the fine
gold to agglomerate into oil-saturated activated carbon
particles.
In theory gold particles will agglomerate with oil, but
in practice gold grades are so low that there is not enough
gold to form oil-gold agglomerates. So for CGA to work it
is first necessary to use another hydrophobic material (in
this case, comminuted coal dust) to either agglomerate
with the gold or to act as a carrier of the gold particles.
The first step is to create coal-oil agglomerates about
5mm in diameter using coal dust bound by kerosene, light
gas oil or fuel oil. Agglomerates smaller than 500 seem
to be more effective in recovering gold.
The second step is to add the coal agglomerate to
the gold-bearing slurry in the special reactor. The gold
particles, due to their oleophilic nature, continue to enter
the agglomerate particles until the operator considers the
target gold concentration has been reached.
Then the gold enriched oil-saturated activated carbon
particles are agitated and the agglomerated gold is
mechanically separated.
Finally gold is recovered from the agglomerates by
burning them, the coal and oil incinerating to leave gold
and ash. The gold is then separated from the ash.

COAL-GOLD AGGLOMERATION

Flowsheet for placer gold recovery by CGA. (drawing: Robin Grayson)

Agglomeration snowballs extremely fine gold with


coaly or oily material to produce large particles that can
then be recovered easily by floatation.
Coal-gold agglomeration (CGA) makes use of gold
being hydrophobic (resists water-wetting) and oleophilic
(easily wetted by oils). CGA only works with fine gold,
making CGA appropriate for placer tailings with fine gold
that would otherwise be lost, and for milled hardrock ore.
CGA began with BP plc in Australia who built a pilot
plant processing 1 ton/hour of placer gold concentrate. A
patent was awarded to Mark Cadzow, Graham Elkes,
Gavin Ewin and David Mainwaring in 1986 (US
#4,585,548) and assigned to BP Australia. The team then
tried CGA for low-grade hardrock ores with <1 gram/ton
of gold, patented in 1990 (US #4,976,781).
In China, Zhao Bing and colleagues found CGA had
many advantages over cyanide and claimed 88%
recovery of gold in amalgamation tailings. In Africa, lab
experiments by Kotze and Petersen achieved 85% gold
recovery from artificial gold-slurry mixtures [77-82].
A CGA pilot by Envi-Tech Inc under the CanadaAlberta MDA project in 1993/94 indicated gold recovery
from agglomeration-adsorption technology may be 9599% but no results seem to have been published.

Figure 69.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Early success in recovering placer gold with CGA did
not lead to its adoption by placer gold miners. Yet it might
allow high % gold recovery from difficult placers, such as
fine gold in laterites (as in much of South America, Africa,
Australia and parts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China),
without the use of mercury or cyanide. Recent work in
Turkey shows high % recovery is possible for gold
between 53 and 300 [83].

GOLD RECOVERY BY AGGLOMERATION - generalised

Coal-gold agglomeration (CGA) can recover 90% of gold in the range 53-300 [83]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Oleophilic adhesion 1980s research in Alberta

Oleophilic adhesion is the selective adhesion of a


mineral to a surface coated in oil, grease or wax. Gold is
ideal being oleophilic, and proven to be naturally
hydrophobic [84,85]. Conversely magnetite and quartz are
oleophobic and hydrophilic. Yet gold recovery by oleophilic
adhesion failed to challenge froth floatation, in spite of
requiring less water and less grinding, ease of
regenerating oils/greases/waxes and general simplicity. In
contrast, oleophilic adhesion became the standard means
of recovering diamonds on grease tables and grease belts.
Oleophilic adhesion was formerly known as the
contact method of ore concentration, for which Royer
Luckenbach of New York was awarded two patents in
1923 and a third in 1931 (US #1,448,928, US #1,478,237
and US 1,792,544). The patents propose a sticky coating
of oil, grease or wax being smeared on an endless belt
(e.g. a Frue vanner) to which gold particles would be
attracted and remain attached even when the belt inverts
over an end roller where black sand and quartz are shed
as tailings. The gold is removed from the moving inverted
belt by a scraper, and a roller reapplies a sticky smear of
oil, grease or wax. Luckenbach added sodium silicate to
the smear as a wetting agent to deter settling of
magnetite and other gangue minerals, and his patents
mention an extraordinary range of suitable oils, greases
and waxes including candle wax, candle tar, coal tar,
horse grease, bitumen and lard.
The Lurgi method was invented by Ernst Bierbrauer
of Germany and patented in 1940 and 1942 (US #2,189,698
and US #2,291,447) but not for gold recovery.
The Kruyer method was invented by Jan Kruyer of
Alberta and patented in 1983 (US #4,511,461) and rather
than using a sticky solid belt uses a sticky mesh belt.
Rather than scraping the belt to collect the adhering
oleophilic particles, the belt is squeezed between rollers or
alternatively be blown or shaken off.

Figure 70.

Operation
The text is adapted from the account of the greasy
belt described by Royer Luckenbach in his patents.
Hardrock ore is milled to 2.5mm a major advantage
over froth floatation that requires much finer milling.
Placer ore is screened at 2.5mm. Gold in the oversize
is separated in a simple device such as sluice. The
<2.5mm fraction is subjected to oleophilic adhesion.
Water is added to the <2.5mm feed to create a slurry
of about 25% solids by volume. Hydrophilic particles are
wetted by adding a trace of wetting agent such as sodium
silicate (see patents) or liquid non-frothing detergent. This
weakens surface tension and sinks float gold.
The greasy belt is an endless rubber belt moving
between rollers, one of which is a drive roller. The belt is
coated in a thin sticky (tacky) coating of oil, grease or
wax but not so liquid that it might drip free when the
moving belt inverts on passing over the end roller.
Luckenbach suggests a flexible resin binder such as
rubber is added to the coating to make it waterproof.
The slurry issues as a thin stream onto the moving
endless belt and the gold adheres to the sticky coating by
oleophilic adhesion. At the end, the water and gangue
minerals are shed as tailings whereas the gold and other
oleophilic particles remain stuck to the inverted belt from
which they are removed by a scraper. The scraper also
removes some or all of the sticky coating.
The inverted belt passes across a roller that applies a
fresh sticky coating and then turns right-way-up over its
end roller to again capture oleophilic particles from slurry.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Oleophilic adhesion does not appear to be being used
by placer gold mining companies, artisanal miners or
recreational miners in spite of its apparent simplicity.

GOLD RECOVERY BY OLEOPHILIC ADHESION - generalised

Recovery of placer gold by the oleophilic adhesion is unclear and the graph is highly conjectural. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Froth floatation 1930s research in Idaho and USSR

Froth floatation of gold is possible due to golds


surface hydrophobicity the antithesis of gravity
concentration" [27] and therefore froth floatation can
recover up to 100% of very fine to moderately fine gold
(<150), much the same as cyanide leaching.
The first paper on froth floatation of gold appeared
as late as 1914 [49]. Today froth floatation is a widely
used method for recovering many types of minerals
including gold, platinum, chromite, fluorspar and coal.
Regarding placer gold, deterrents are the cost of
reagents, the need to recycle effluent and the challenge of
floating placer gold due its depressed hydrophobicity,
buoyancy and floatability due to impurities and coatings.
But placer gold is often irregular in shape (due to natural
leaching) even porous and is often remarkably flat,
and paradoxically it is these factors that make
gravitational settling difficult yet froth floatation easier.

Adoption by placer gold miners


In 1916 Lang suggested that the platy shape of
placer gold in black sand of the Pacific Coast of North
America should make it amenable to recovery by
floatation [50]. The first research report on placer gold
floatation was by Arthur Fahrenwald in 1933 [51] and
1937 saw publication of floatation recovery of placer gold
on Idaho gold dredges [3,52]. Reagents were amyl
xanthate and Aerofloat-15 plus either pine oil or cresylic
acid frother. Gold recoveries were 47-76% the less
slimes then the better the floatation [3]. Contemporary
tests in the Soviet Union with similar reagents on clean-up
tailings and <150 fraction of placer ores yielded 75-90%
recovery at concentration ratios of 25:1 to 42:1 [3,53,54].
Research resumed in the 1970s in China [27] where
78-99% recovery was attained with rougher concentration
ratios of several hundred [3].
Floatation tests of Soviet Union coastal marine sands
achieved 70-100% recovery of 75-125 gold [2,27]. A
graph by Wang and Poling shows >95% recovery was
possible for coastal type gold <150 with a retention
time of 15 minutes, and 100% recovery possible for
<120 with a retention time of only 5 minutes.
The Soviet Union appears to have operated the
worlds only full-scale floatation circuit for placer gold, a
six-cell floatation circuit in the 1930s that scavenged both
fine and minute gold from gravity tailings aboard a
bucket-line dredge [2,27]. It processed 300 tons of solids
per day and although the gold recovery was satisfactory
the floatation circuit was deemed uneconomic at the then
prevailing low gold price.
Today, froth floatation is a neglected method for
recovering placer gold and the author is unaware of any
commercial placer operations using this method.

Operation
For placer ore, the process is most appropriate to
gold recovery from fine tailings or from concentrate.
The feed consists of finely milled hardrock ore, or
else fine tailings or placer concentrate.
Slurry is made by adding water, and fed continuously
into a floatation tank.
In the floatation tank, the slurry is agitated and air
bubbles injected. The gold particles attach themselves to
the meniscus of the rising bubbles. This is due to gold
being hydrophobic and by selectively enhancing this
tendency by adding chemicals known as collectors; by
controlling the collectors using conditioners; by
stimulating wetting by wetting agents; by stimulating
frothing by frothing agents and by controlling pH.
The resulting froth is then removed and the gold
recovered by either gravity settling or chemical means.

Figure 27.

GOLD RECOVERY BY FROTH FLOATATION

Froth floatation can separate >90% of gold <150, but is too slow for leaching >300 gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Gold-paraffin wax floatation 1990s research in Brazil

The gold-paraffin wax process was developed in


Brazil as a clean non-polluting method for recovering gold
as an alternative to mercury amalgamation [167], and is
currently being assessed by Eco-Minex in Mongolia.
The gold-paraffin wax process as developed by
Christina Hamelmann and Fernando Lins of CETEM, Brazil,
exploits the preference for gold particles to adhere to
hydrophobic materials and thereby can be separated from
slurry. The selected hydrophobic material is paraffin-wax
which is non-toxic, low-cost and widely available. The
concentrate used in the tests was from Minas Gerais with
a gold grade of 11 grams/ton.
The CETEM researchers found that the greater the
volume of paraffin wax compared to the volume of the
sample then the greater the gold recovery by the goldparaffin wax method. Attempts were made to obtain an
electrostatic attraction between the gold particles and the
paraffin globules by controlling the acidity at pH 3, as the
isoelectric point for gold is pH 2 and pH 3-5 for paraffin
[168]. In theory at pH 3 the gold particles should be
negative and paraffin globules positive, and some
improvement in gold recovery was achieved at pH 3
suggesting that this mechanism was occurring. The
researchers also found xanthate as a gold collector
enhanced gold recovery.
The CETEM researchers succeeded in achieving gold
recoveries of 40-50% by the gold-paraffin wax method
[167]. These results are encouraging considering the
number of untried variables that await investigation that
may be capable of greatly improving the gold recovery
sufficient to challenge mercury amalgamation.
The gold-paraffin wax method is described at www.egoldprospecting.com/html/gold-paraffin_process.html.

Figure 119.

Operation
This account is based on the bench experiments of
Hamelmann and Lins in Brazil [167].
The concentrate is finely divided and made into
aqueous slurry of 25-30% solids.
The slurry is heated in a container to 70C, just 2
degrees centigrade above the melting point of the
paraffin-wax used (about 68C).
The temperature of the slurry is maintained at 70C,
and pieces of paraffin wax are added and allowed to melt.
A mechanical stirrer disperses the melted paraffin to
encourage it to contact the particles in the slurry. By this
simple means, the gold particles being hydrophobic
adhere to the globules (droplets) of paraffin wax whereas
black sand and quartz do not.
When the stirring ceases, the paraffin globules rise to
the surface to form a low-density paraffin phase above the
water phase. The gold is locked in the paraffin when it
solidifies as a floating solid. The solidified gold-containing
paraffin is removed from the surface of the aqueous
phase and further processed to remove the gold.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The gold-paraffin wax method requires further
experimentation to improve % gold recovery sufficient to
justify interest by placer gold miners.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD-PARAFFIN WAX FLOATATION results of CETEM experiments

Recovery by the experimental gold-paraffin wax method that merits further investigation. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Magnetic coated gold 1980s research in Colorado

A rather unexpected way to recover placer gold is,


having first removed magnetite and other magnetic
minerals to then selectively make the gold particles
magnetic and remove them by magnetic means.
James K. Kindig and Ronald L. Turner of Golden,
Colorado gained patents in clean coal technology having
discovered that by warming coal with iron carbonyl vapour
the pyrite became magnetic and could then be removed
more easily (US #3,938,966 and #4,175,924).
Kindig and Turner then adapted the method for
placer gold with good results and they were awarded a
patent in 1980 (US #4,229,209) and assigned it to Hazen
Research Inc. First they removed the magnetite and
suchlike using magnetic separators. Next they put the
non-magnetic placer into a rotating kiln with iron carbonyl
vapour in an inert nitrogen atmosphere. Important
variables include the temperature, pressure, type of
carbonyl used, gas composition etc.
The iron carbonyl selectively attaches itself to the
gold particles and decomposes to make a magnetic coat of
iron for the gold particles.

Operation
This text is based on the Kindig and Turner method
presented in US patent #4,229,209.
Iron carbonyl liquid is sourced from specialist
suppliers and stringent precautions are applied during
transport, storage and use regarding risk of fire and risk of
acute poisoning.
The placer ore is either dry-screened or else wetscreened and then dried. Magnetic minerals are removed
as fully as possible.
The dry non-magnetic fraction is fed to a rotating kiln
serving as a reaction vessel to bring the material into
direct contact with iron carbonyl vapours in the presence
of a gas such as nitrogen that is inert to the reaction.
The objective is to cause the decomposition of the
iron carbonyl to form a magnetic skin on the gold particles
but not on the other particles present. Typically about 0.5
to 4 kilos of carbonyl are added per ton of feed.
Generally a reaction time of from half an hour to an
hour is adequate, at 110-130C. The higher the
temperature the more complete is the gold recovery, but
at higher temperatures the iron carbonyl is liable to coat
other minerals beside gold particles.
After the treatment, the magnetic coated gold is
removed by dry magnetic separators such as a low to
medium separator with a magnetic drum having field
strengths of up to about 2,500 gauss, electromagnetic
drum separators up to about 7,000 gauss or induced roll
separators up to about 11,000 gauss.

Fe(CO)5  Fe + 5CO
Iron carbonyl Fe(CO)5 is a straw-yellow liquid that is
cheap, but unfortunately it requires special precautions as
it is not only flammable but is also toxic if inhaled.
The inventors recovered 93.3% of placer gold from
Clear Creek, Colorado; then 76.5-93.3% of placer gold
from the Vulture placer in Arizona, and later on their tests
were getting 99.98% gold recovery.
Of interest is that the Kindig and Turner method
requires no water at all, making it of potential value in
enabling large-scale placer gold recovery in arid regions.
However, the method has not been tested on gold <100
and therefore further research is warranted.

Figure 71.

Adoption by placer gold miners


This 'making gold magnetic' process unsuitable for
artisanal miners, but seems to have merit for large-scale
placer mining operations particularly in dry deserts as
the process requires no water.

GOLD RECOVERY BY MAGNETIC COATING GOLD PARTICLES

Recovery of placer gold by the iron carbonyl method according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Riffled sluices 1960s-70s research in China and Soviet Union


Some early scientific tests on gravitational recovery of
gold by simple sluices were in China and the Soviet Union.
In China, placer scientists of the Minerals Processing
Laboratory of the Kunming Institute of Metallurgy in
Yunnan Province in the 1970s determined the percentage
gold recovery of conventional riffles [27]. It is unclear
what type of riffles were tested or the size of the feed, but
the results showed gold recovery starts to falter at 2mm,
is only 90% by 0.6mm, and collapsed to 60% at 0.2mm.
In the Soviet Union, placer scientists in the 1970s
achieved similar results with expanded metal riffles [2].
Again it is unclear what type of expanded metal riffles
were tested or the size of the feed. The results were
encouraging compared to the dismal performance of flat
bar riffles traditional in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and
that are still favoured in the Russian Federation and
Mongolia. But the results were poor compared to the
Yukon tests on expanded metal riffles a decade later.

Figure 28.

RUSSIAN EXPANDED METAL RIFFLES

Figure 29.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE RIFFLED SLUICES China tests

Figure 30.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE RIFFLED SLUICES Soviet Union tests

Sluice-boxes with expanded metal mesh riffles freshly installed in


a Soviet bucket-line dredge in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson)

Poor performance of simple riffled sluices [27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Poor performance of simple riffled sluices [2]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Flat bar riffles 1980s research in Yukon, 1990s research in Mongolia

Operation

Figure 72.

First, black rubber mats are laid on the floor of the


sluice box, with the ends of the mats either butted
together or slightly overlapping, imbricated down-slope.
About 6-20 riffles are welded to side bars to create a
riffle set. In Mongolia the flat bar riffles are severely
slanted at 30-45 to the sluice-box floor.
Each set of riffles is slotted into the sluice-box and
bedded down on the black rubber mat. The riffle sets are
secured by metal or wooden chocks.
Generally the riffle sets are orientated with the riffles
slanted down-sluice. This helps to stimulate vortices and
shields metalwork from damage and abrasion from stones.
For clean sands, a 30 slant is preferred. For clay-rich
sands the slant may reach 45. Sometimes the riffles are
slanted upstream to act as a nugget catcher.
Flat bar riffles are commonly used in conjunction with
a Siberian-style PgSh wash-plant typified by violent
surging and wide fluctuation in flow and density of slurry.
Lacking a lip, a flat bar riffle is less able to guide sand
into a vortex, and sand exits its vortex instead of being led
into the next vortex. This severely reduces the opportunity

FLAT BAR RIFFLES

Slanted flat bar riffles on ribbed rubber matting at a placer mine


in the Zaamar Goldfield of Mongolia. (photo: Jeanie Barnett of GSA)

Flat bar riffles consist of flat metal bars inclined


across a sluice box to trap black sand and gold. They have
been popular for at least 70 years.
1980s tests in the Yukon, Canada
Flat bar riffles on unbacked NomadTM matting were
slanted at various angles to the sluice-box floor in tests by
Randy Clarkson and Owen Peer [8]. When slanting 15
upstream, flat bar riffles choked with sand faster than if
slanting 15 downstream. Slanting downstream produces
a slower vortex with its eye closer to the centre, and the
vortex launches material at a lower angle. Performance
was inferior to Hungarian riffles.

for gravels and gold to enter the riffles and the turbulence
destroys effective vertical segregation. [8]
Vortices cease after a few hours choked with
sediment, yet washing continues for an 8-hour shift.
Flat bar riffles are less strong than angle iron
(Hungarian riffles) and more prone to bending.

1990s tests in Mongolia


Slanted flat bar riffles on ribbed rubber matting were
tested by a Soviet team led by Ms. Tsevel Delgertsoo in
1991-95 at four placer gold mines about 25 tests in all.
Each test consisted of panning to estimate the headgrade, measuring the volume washed in an 8-hour shift
(1-2,000m3) and sampling tails every 15 minutes across
the sluice. Careful panning was done in a gold room.
Recovery was 60-70% for medium to large gold. Fine gold
was not fully tested it was often present but lost.

Figure 73.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Slanted bar riffles on square-ribbed black rubber
mats are the norm for placer gold mines in the former
Soviet Union and Mongolia.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SLANTED FLAT BAR RIFFLED SLUICE Mongolia tests

Recovery of placer gold by slanted flat bar riffled sluice on ribbed rubber matting, tested by Mrs. Tsevel Delgertsoo. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles 1980s research in Canada

Operation

Figure 74.

To comply with the Yukon tests, the sluice-box is


tilted at 1-m fall per 4-m length of sluice to ensure the
angle iron riffles can generate large distinct vortices.
First a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a step. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
slightly better (source Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
About 6-20 riffles are welded to side bars to create a
riffle set. For best results, the angle-iron riffles are 1-inch
high with a to 1-inch wide lip, tilted 15 upstream, and
spaced 2 inches apart. Each riffle set is slotted in the
sluice-box and pressed down on the NomadTM matting.
The riffle sets are secured by metal or wooden chocks.
The angle iron is positioned with one of its flat sides
uppermost to act as a short slick plate and splitter to
guide the bottom flow into the vortex. Its other flat side
obstructs the flow to retain the vortex and trap heavies.
Slurry is fed at 48.8m3/hour per metre width. A very
large concentration ratio is possible (i.e. vast amounts of
black sand are shed to produce a gold concentrate).
The Yukon tests showed angle iron riffles maintain
the captured black sand in a loose state for a long time,
so continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables
clean-ups to be needed only once every 24 hours.

ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES

A set of 1-inch riffled sluices being made on the spot at the


Sharin Gol mine of Polymet Potala Ltd in Mongolia The welder has
ensured each riffle has a 15 tilt. (photo: Robin Grayson)

The origin of the term Hungarian riffles is unclear


and predates World War II. By the time of the Yukon tests
[8] the term had become synonymous with angle iron
riffles set across the width of a sluice-box.
1980s tests in British Columbia and Yukon, Canada
Lab tests using gold tracer in the University of British
Columbia by James Hamilton and George Poling [7]
showed angle-iron riffles if on unbacked NomadTM matting
can recover >90% of >0.3mm gold, and 85% of 150
gold, subject to control of the feed and the riffle size,
angle and spacing.
Tests in the Yukon by Randy Clarkson and Owen
Peer [8] confirmed the findings, and included gold tracers,
gold radiotracers, flume observation tanks and testing
performance of sluice-boxes of placer mines [86-90].

Figure 75.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Angle-iron riffles are the norm in North America and
common in most of the world but not everywhere. In
Siberia and Mongolia, inclined flat bar riffles is the norm.
Many artisanal miners use basic Hungarian riffles of wood.

GOLD RECOVERY BY ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON UNBACKED NOMAD MATTING British Columbia tests

Recovery of placer gold in lab tests by James Hamilton and George Poling [7] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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36 continued: Angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles 1980s research in Canada

Figure 76.

ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon field tests

Figure 77.

ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon field tests

Figure 78.

ANGLE-IRON RIFFLES ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon field tests

Recovery of placer gold by 2x2-inch angle-iron riffles @ 4-inch spacing, on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Recovery of placer gold by 3 x3-inch angle-iron riffles @ 6-inch spacing, on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Recovery of placer gold by 1x2-inch angle-iron riffles @ 4-inch spacing on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Expanded metal grating riffles 1980s research in Canada

Operation

Figure 79.

To comply with the Yukon tests, the sluice is tilted at


50 to 106cm per 4-m length of sluice to ensure the
grating can generated many small and distinct vortices.
First a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a step. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
slightly better (source Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
A sheet of expanded metal grating is cut to fit snugly
in the sluice box, and secured by metal or wooden chocks.
Several sections may be fitted into a sluice box, butted
together with no overlap. Each equates to a riffle set.
The grating is inserted with the raised lips facing upstream
to serve as riffles.
The riffles are coarse 4lbs/ft2 raised expanded
metal grating identical to 4.0# grating of the Expanded
Metal Manufacturers Association (EMMA) 'standards',
downloadable: www.naamm.org/emma/literature.php.
Expanded metal riffles achieve a very large
concentration ratio (i.e. shed vast amounts of black sand
to achieve a gold-rich concentrate), as do flat bar riffles
and angle-iron (Hungarian) riffles.
Expanded metal grating riffles can maintain the
captured black sand in a loose state for a long time, so
continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables cleanups to be needed only once every 24 hours.

EXPANDED METAL GRATING RIFFLES

Raised expanded metal grating suitable for using as large


expanded metal riffles. (photo: Robin Grayson)

Expanded metal grating was invented in the early


1880s. The first innovative use of expanded metal as
riffles in a sluice was by Robert Hodgson Postlethwaite, a
British subject at the Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works in
San Francisco. He applied for a patent in 1897, awarded
1900 (US #652,900). It was only in the 1980s that the
effectiveness as riffles was proved by scientific tests.
1980s tests in Yukon, Canada
Randy Clarkson and Owen Peer [8] tested relatively
coarse 4lbs/ft2 expanded metal grating and finer 1-10H
expanded metal mesh. In flume tests, both displayed,
similar deposition and vortex patterns and the mesh
developed smaller and more numerous vortices.
They observed that the grating remained firmly in
place whereas the mesh warped off the NomadTM matting
causing excessive scour.
The grating has to be Raised (R) = Standard (S) and
not Flattened (F). According to Vincent Ruth of
Continental Wire Cloth, the applications that this product

Adoption by placer gold miners


Raised expanded metal riffles of grating type are
used worldwide by placer miners.

dominates would be used when designing something that


requires a walking surface.

Figure 80.

GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL GRATING ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon tests

Recovery of placer gold by expanded metal grating, type 4lbs/ft2 (4.0 grating) on backed NomadTM matting [86]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Expanded metal mesh riffles 1980s research in Canada

Operation

Figure 81.

To comply with the University of British Columbia tests,


the sluice is tilted at 50 to 106cm per 4-m length to ensure
the mesh can generate many small and distinct vortices.
First, a roll of unbacked NomadTM matting is cut to
size and unrolled on the floor of the sluice box. If several
pieces of matting are used then their ends are closely
butted together to avoid a step. Instinctively the
NomadTM matting is laid with its smooth side downwards,
but there is recent anecdotal evidence that putting the
smooth side uppermost either makes no difference or is
slightly better (source Zooka of Alaska Gold Forum).
A roll of raised expanded metal mesh type 1-10H is
unrolled and cut to fit the sluice box, and secured by
metal or wooden chocks. Several sections may be butted
together with no overlap. Each equates to a riffle set.
The mesh is inserted with the raised lips facing upstream
to serve as riffles.
When unrolling the mesh, flatten it. Keep the sluice
narrow to reduce warping. Clamping too tight may
compress the NomadTM matting and warp the mesh. Tying
the mesh to the floor of the sluice-box inhibits warping
but prolongs cleanups; quick release bolts are better.
Expanded metal riffles achieve a very large
concentration ratio (i.e. shed vast amounts of black sand
to achieve a gold-rich concentrate), as do flat bar riffles
and angle iron (Hungarian) riffles.
Expanded metal 1-10H mesh can maintain the
captured black sand in a loose state for a long time, so
continuing to be able to recover gold. This enables cleanups to be needed only once every 24 hours.

EXPANDED METAL MESH RIFFLES

Raised expanded metal mesh suitable for using as small


expanded metal riffles. (photo: Robin Grayson)

Expanded metal mesh seems to have been used for


riffles a little later than grating. It was only in the 1980s
the effectiveness of mesh was proved by scientific tests.
1980s tests in British Columbia, Canada
James Hamilton and George Poling [7] tested 1-10H
expanded metal mesh. The mesh is Raised (R) =
Standard (S), not Flattened (F).
The riffles are 1-10H raised expanded metal mesh
identical to the 1-10H expanded metal mesh manufactured
by Continental Wire Cloth Inc of Calgary. Their product 110H has not changed since the early 1980s according to
Vincent Ruth, see: www.cwcloth.com/expanded.htm.
Of concern is the susceptibility of 1-10H mesh to lose
gold by the mesh warping to permit scouring of the
matting beneath. Even a small surge is likely to cause gold
losses for, as pointed out by Randy Clarkson and Owen
Peer [8] the live sorting crescent is so shallow it is
vulnerable to being ejected. The cause of scouring is due
to the ease of warping of the mesh, plus two variables:

Adoption by placer gold miners


Expanded metal riffles of mesh
worldwide amongst placer gold miners.

a surge of water, due to too much or too little water; and/or


a surge of changed slurry, due to too much or too little solids.

Figure 82.

are

popular

GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON UNBACKED NOMAD MATTING B.C. tests

Recovery of placer gold by expanded metal mesh, type 1-10H on unbacked NomadTM matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Poling and Hamilton [7])

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38 continued: Expanded metal mesh riffles research in Canada and USA

Figure 83.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SMALL SLUICE WITH DIFFERENT MATTING Zooka Tests

Figure 84.

GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon tests

Figure 85.

GOLD RECOVERY BY RAISED EXPANDED METAL MESH ON BACKED NOMAD MATTING Yukon tests

The superiority of NomadTM matting in recovering placer gold compared to close weave matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

Recovery by expanded metal mesh (type 1-10H ?) on backed NomadTM matting. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

Inability of expanded metal mesh (type 1-10H?) to retain medium-coarse placer gold. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

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McCanns small sluice 1980s research in California

Operation

Figure 86.

Feed is best screened at 2.5 to 5mm, although the


manufacturer says no pre-screening is required. Pay
gravel is fed by trowel either dry or wet into the feed
hopper and the device will process about 136 kilos/hour of
solids. Rather than the wash water being added from
above, the wash water is added from three holes in the
rear of the hopper. The resultant slurry passes through a
static screen in the base of the hopper with shaped holes
encourage a steady outflow.
Upon escaping from the hopper, the slurry
encounters wash-water flowing over a deflector plate. The
slurry and wash-water flow over a perforated plate that
has numerous small holes through which dense fine
particles fall into a quiet zone of slowly moving water that
is where most of the fine gold tends to be caught. Larger
particles pass down the main sluice lined with rubber vgroove riffles capture 90-98% of the visible gold, assisted
by a section of fine expanded metal mesh and a single
shaped riffle. The manufacturer recommends adding a
heavy duty HFBE vibrator to assist recovery of fine gold.
Tailings water flows into a filter bag at the end of the
sluice that retains the tailings and the cleaned water fills a
heavy duty 5-gallon water bucket. From here the water is
recirculated many times an hour by a small submersible
pump (capacity 1.89m3/hour) requiring 1.5 amps at 12
volts allowing 20-30 hours use on a car battery.

McCANNs SMALL SLUICE

General arrangement, details omitted. (drawing: Robin Grayson)

McCanns sluice was invented by John C. McCann of


California and patented in 1985 (US #4,525,270). This
was among the most outstanding innovations to the sluice
made by recreational miners in North America and
elsewhere who, since sometime before the 1970s, have
been making incremental improvements to their small
sluices in an effort to recover more fine gold. By the 1980s
the innovative surge had become quite remarkable.
McCanns sluice is a complete wash-plant satisfying a
litany of wishes of recreational miners:

small, lightweight, portable device;


minimises water use by recycling;
minimises energy consumption;
has a good concentration ratio of 1,000:1;
has an adjustable slope;
maintains a steady flow;
recovers 90-98% of visible gold; and
recovers 60-80% of gold particles as fine as 30-40.

McCanns sluice removes technical justification for


mercury. Yet in over two decades since the device was
patented and thousands sold to recreational gold miners
worldwide, the device has been overlooked by researchers
using public funds in efforts to improve large gold sluices
for companies [90,91] and gold sluices for artisanal miners
[21,26,92].

Figure 87.

Adoption by placer gold miners


McCanns wash-plant is made by Micro-Sluice Gold
Products of Wisconsin, USA (www.micro-sluice.com) and
marketed as the Micro-Sluice, with over 3,700 units sold in
16 countries over the last 20 years. The device is popular
with recreational gold miners and has potential for
artisanal miners especially in arid regions.

GOLD RECOVERY BY McCANNs SMALL SLUICE

Recovery of placer gold by McCanns small sluice, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS) 1990s research in New Mexico

Operation

The Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS) was invented by Phil


Hontz of New Mexico in the 1990s. The device was never
patented as it had been discussed widely on internet
forums and is a direct descendant of earlier innovations
based on the research on larger sluices in the Yukon tests
by Owen Poor and Randy Clarkson [8] and more
particularly the sluices tested by James Hamilton and
George Poling [7] that had raised expanded metal mesh
riffles on unbacked NomadTM matting (miners moss).
These sluices achieved >90% gold recovery down to
about 150 nominal diameter.
The Damn Fine SluiceTM is a considerable advance on
these earlier sluices in being able to recover >90% gold
recovery down to about 50 nominal diameter, although
rigorous testing does not appear to have been done.
The DFS is manufactured by the Damn Fine
Equipment Co (www.damnfinesluice.com). This is part of
relentless effort by recreational miners in North America to
recover fine gold using small sluices for small dredges,
high bankers and clean-ups.
The Damn Fine SluiceTM consists of a smooth slick
plate followed by a section of tiny raised expanded metal
mesh fitted on matting, all set in a short sluice-box. The
unit is about 1.19m long and 25cm wide, and weighs 3.63
kilos. It includes a pair of adjustable legs to aid setting up.
The DFS is an in-stream sluice, with a flared intake
(fixed wings) to help funnel water into the mouth of the
sluice and to aid stability. The first section is a long slick
plate to encourage laminar flow to guide heavy particles
into a section of tiny raised expanded metal riffles
clamped on heavy duty unbacked NomadTM matting.
The DFS, being an in-stream sluice, lacks a hopper
and screen, and has no means of recirculating water. Nor
is it designed to catch gold nuggets.

Figure 120.

The DFS is an in-stream sluice, positioned in shallow


fast-flowing water. If necessary rocks are arranged to
form a temporary dam or weir to ensure flow is adequate
and fast. The legs are adjusted to ensure the DFS is
sloping downstream and yet is level across its width.
Pay gravel is screened at about 2mm and the
oversize discarded after checking for nuggets. The
undersize is put on the leading edge of the slick-plate, a
small quantity at a time.
The pay gravel is swept through the sluice by the
water current. After the small mound of pay gravel has
been cleared by this means a fresh mound is added. The
current causes the pay gravel to spread out across the
width of the slick plate to assume laminar (non-turbulent)
flow consisting of a bottom-hugging traction carpet of
black sand overlain by a traction carpet of lights.
The traction carpet of black sand is pulled into the
vortices (rollers) of the riffles and the gold burrows into
the underlying layer of NomadTM matting. The lighter
minerals and surplus black sand are swept out as tailings.
Eventually the NomadTM matting becomes hard
packed. Clean-up is rapid, as the riffles are easily removed
by turning the wing-nuts on the ends of bolts that secure
them, and the matting is lifted clear. The riffles, matting
and sluice-box are then flushed clean into a bowl or
suchlike if needs be with a few drops of detergent added
to founder any float gold. Later the contents of the bowl
are cleaned by panning, tabling or other means.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The outstanding success of the DFS in recovering fine
placer gold led to its immediate and continuing popularity
among recreational miners and has inspired many other
devices such as the PopandSon sluice.

GOLD RECOVERY BY DAMN FINE SLUICETM - generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Damn Fine SluiceTM according to reports by many users. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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PopandSon sluice 2000s research in USA

Operation

Figure 146.

POPANDSON SLUICE

Figure 147.

RANGE OF RIFFLE SIZES

Initial testing with chunky tungsten powder as tracer


suggested by Steve Bryce (Zooka of AGF) indicated high
percentage gold recovery at fast flows and feeds.
Using 100-200 mesh placer gold tracer run over
88.9cm of style #3/16 raised expanded mesh clamped on
unbacked NomadTM matting resting on ribbed rubber mat
and sloped at 16mm per metre length, achieved nearly
100% recovery. At a steeper slope of 36.5mm per metre,
gold recovery was 95-97%. The steeper slope allowed a
much higher feed rate.
The test sluice has two sections of sluice liner, each
about 43cm long. The top section is the primary test bed,
and the end section is to scavenge gold in the tailings of
the top section. For recovery of 100-200 mesh gold (74149) the best performance of the top section was 9294% using style #3/16 expanded metal mesh, but fell to
86% using style #1/2 expanded metal mesh.
For 200-325 mesh gold (44-74) at a gentle slope of
16mm per metre length, the recovery was only 65% in
the top section but 85% for both sections.
Steve and Jason Gaber suggest a fairly large drop-off in

Carrying a standard over-the shoulder PopandSon sluice in the


Gobi Desert of Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson)

The large, medium and tiny raised expanded metal mesh in a


standard PopandSon sluice. (photo: Robin Grayson)

The PopandSon sluice was invented in 2005 by Steve


and Jason Gaber (PopandSonminers of Alaska Gold Forum
AGF) in Washington State. The PopandSon sluice is a
development of the innovative Damn Fine SluiceTM (DFS)
invented by Phil Hontz of New Mexico and made by the
Damn Fine Equipment Co (www.damnfinesluice.com) in
the 1990s. The DFS is a simple cheap device consisting of
a smooth slick plate followed by a section of tiny raised
expanded metal mesh fitted on matting, all set in a short
sluice-box. This is part of relentless effort by recreational
miners in North America to recover fine gold using small
sluices for small dredges, high bankers and clean-ups.
Steve and Jason Gaber conducted bench tests with
tungsten (W) powder and gold (Au) tracers [193] in a
version of the PopandSon sluice consisting of an
aluminium sluice-box lined with simple thin ribbed rubber
followed by unbacked NomadTM matting with style #3/16
aluminium raised expanded metal mesh fitted on top.

Figure 148.

recovery efficiency somewhere below 200 mesh (44 microns).


Experimental work is limited to narrow sluices (6.5
inches = 165mm) for recreational miners and clean-ups.
Yet the PopandSon sluice might be scaled-up for industrial
wash-plants if four issues are solved: a) screening feed to
about 2mm; b) preventing warping; c) preventing surging;
and d) reducing water for each m3 of loose placer water
usage is very high 19.6m3 for steep angle.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Expanded metal riffles of tiny mesh are increasingly
popular amongst recreational placer gold miners, and
have potential for artisanal miners and mining companies.

GOLD RECOVERY BY POPANDSON SLUICE

Recovery of placer gold by the PopandSon sluice based on bench tests with gold and tungsten tracers [193]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Loewen electrostatic sluice 2000s research in Alberta

Electrostatics has been found to be useful in assisting


gravitational recovery of placer gold for over a century by
means of drywashers and related waterless equipment.
Little has been published on the gold recovery achieved,
other than generalised comments that dry methods
usually recover less than wet.
Electrostatics has received little attention in waterbased gravitational recovery of gold. Yet there is a
significant amount of anecdotal evidence that
electrostatics are helpful, particularly in wet recovery of
fine placer gold. Two examples are noted below.
Differential Charging Recovery Systems (DCRS)
were invented by Robert Barefoot of Calgary and patented
in 1990 (US #4,975,182). DCRS turning screened pay
gravel into watery slurry in which a positive electrostatic
charge was induced in the water droplets and gold
particles by subjecting the slurry to high-velocity spinning
in a cyclone-like surge tank. Then the positively charged
gold particles encounter negatively charged surfaces and
are forced to settle by the strong force of electrical
attraction and the relatively weaker force of gravity. The
patent claimed highly efficient recovery of the invisible
gold (less than 320 mesh) using a 180 tons/day mobile
test unit.
DCRS is somewhat dauntingly complicated and one
version depends on mercury amalgamation. The system
failed to be commercialised for many reasons, and some
are noted at www.barefootscureamerica.com.
The Loewen electrostatic sluice was invented by
Wayne W. Loewen of Alberta and patented in 2006 (US
#7,012,209) and is refreshingly simple. Gold is recovered
in a wet sluice lined by ribbed plastic (e.g. polyvinyl
chloride PVC) than is positively electrostatic when
immersed in water, and therefore catches negatively
electrostatic fine gold particles by a combination of
electrostatic attraction and gravitational settling.

Figure 145.

Operation
This text is based on the Loewen electrostatic sluice
as presented in US patent #7,012,209.
Placer pay gravel is first screened to say 15mm and
gold recovered by sluices, jigs or similar gravitational
devices. Tailings are screened <1mm and fed into the
feed hopper of the Loewen electrostatic sluice.
Alternatively milled hardrock ore is screened <1mm
and fed directly into the feed hopper of the Loewen
electrostatic sluice.
The device consists of a simple inclined gravitational
sluice, typically ten feet in length and is four inches wide

with one-and-one-half-inch high sides.


The inclined sluice is lined with a material which
incurs a positive charge when immersed in water,
especially water having a pH value between 4 and 8.
The patent suggests vinyl (PVC) to be a suitable
material. The material has transverse ribs that serve as
riffles and the gold is trapped in the intervening grooves.
Water is added to the feed to make it very thin
slurry, a good ratio would be nine parts water to one part
[screened feed].
Feeding the sluice too quickly with slurry would cause
the grooves to plug. The patent does not specify the
preferred flow rate at which the gold can be observed

settling out during the process, as most of the gold will


settle out in the first three feet of the sluice.
After the batch feed has been exhausted, the sluice
is allowed to run clean. Then the contents are flushed into
a clean-up pail and its contents are allowed to settle and
the water decanted to leave a rich gold concentrate.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Lowen electrostatic sluice is very new and has
yet to be marketed to placer gold miners.

GOLD RECOVERY BY LOEWENs ELECTROSTATIC SLUICE

Recovery of placer gold by Loewen electrostatic sluice according to the patent and diverse assumptions. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Cleangold sluice with magnetic riffles 1990s research in Oregon

Operation

Figure 121.

The Cleangold sluice creates a fluidised bed of


black sand held in position by complex magnetic fields
trapping a carpet of magnetite. Normal riffles are
redundant, substituted by a set of corduroy-like ribs of
magnetite held by the magnetic fields.
After a few minutes, the magnetic fields attract and
hold on the otherwise smooth floor of the Cleangold
sluice a carpet of magnetite particles from the black sand.
If magnetite is rare, Cleangold LLC recommends a little
black sand is brought from elsewhere to fire up the sluice.
Gold particles are actively trapped by the fluidised
bed not by the magnetic fields but by the fluidised bed
being a thixotropic carpet in which heavy particles such as
gold are trapped and burrow down by gravity alone.
Cleaning the sluice takes only a few seconds using a
plastic scraper to scrape the concentrate into a plastic bin.
Care is needed to decide when the sluice needs to be
cleaned. Cleaning too frequently renders excessive the
further upgrading required, and cleaning too infrequently
risks the sluice being over-full of gold and other extremely
heavy minerals whereupon its effectiveness may suffer.
It is clear the Cleangold sluice can recover at least
95% of gold present, including most of the very fine gold.
It appears to be superior to mercury in recovering very
fine gold, and appears capable of recovering a significant
proportion of extremely fine gold. Positive comments have
been made in several independent reports.

CLEANGOLD SLUICE

A Cleangold sluice, after attracting magnetic particles to create


corduroy-like ridges that trap fine gold. (photo: Robin Grayson)

The Cleangold sluice was invented by David Plath


of Oregon and patented in 1999 (US #5,927,508). The
Cleangold sluice uses magnetic strips embedded in a
non-magnetic rubberised sheet inserted in a plain
aluminium sluice to attract, hold and accumulate
ferromagnetic minerals in corduroy-like ridges that serve
as riffles capable of trapping very fine gold.
Overall the Cleangold sluice is a low-cost, highly
efficient appropriate technology solution to upgrading gold
and is capable of recovering much fine gold lost by
panning, sluicing and amalgamation [22,23,169-173].
Several different versions are produced by Cleangold LLC
equating to a gold pan, a trough and a sluice insert
(www.cleangold.com).
Tests briefly mentioned in the paper by Lars Hylander
and David Plath [169] claim 60-70% recovery of gold
down to 0.005mm at first pass, and in a second pass a
recovery of a further 60-70% of the remaining fines.
This suggests four permutations for the overall result
84%, 88%, 91% and 98% recovery.

Figure 122.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The innovative Cleangold sluice has great potential
for placer gold recovery by artisanal miners, recreational
miners and by mining companies. The equipment is new
and is currently penetrating artisanal markets in Surinam
[22], Guianas [23] and Philippines [36, 170,171].

GOLD RECOVERY BY CLEANGOLD SLUICE - generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Cleangold sluice according to tests reported by Hylander and Plath [169]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Hydraulic riffles 1980s research in New Zealand and Canada

Operation

Figure 88.

Washed pay gravel screened at 25mm is fed into the


sluice box at a rate of about 25m3/hour of solids. Higher
throughput is by two or more sluices in parallel.
The slurry first enters a boil box that serves as a
nugget trap, where the trap shape ensures turbulence to
prevent clogging with fines, assisted by 9-13.5m3/hour of
clean water injected at 15-35kpa pressure from a
manifold. Exiting the boil box, the slurry passes over a
slick plate to calm the slurry and engender laminar flow to
allow the slurry to stratify with heavies concentrating near
the bottom. After the slick plate the stratified slurry
crosses the first set of hydraulic riffles where 32-48
m3/hour of clean water is injected 15-35kpa pressure from
a manifold into the black sand to maintain a fluidised bed
that traps the gold. The hydraulic riffles rest on unbacked
NomadTM matting to assist capture of gold.
The slurry continues over a second slick plate that
encourages more density stratification and passes over
the second set of hydraulic riffles to recover more gold.
Finally the slurry passes over an end section of raised
expanded metal mesh that catches gold from the tails and
helps to verify that the system is functioning properly.

HYDRAULIC METAL RIFFLES

A set of hydraulic metal riffles showing the manifold supplying the


elutriation water under pressure. This set was manufactured by
PAuSE Ltd in New Zealand. (photo: Robin Grayson)

Hydraulic riffles appeared over a century ago. In their


modern form they began in New Zealand in the 1970-80s.
Lindsay Guy Herron of Queenstown invented compact
hydraulic riffles patented in New Zealand (NZ #216,327,
filed 1986, lapsed 1997) and the United States (US
#4,863,588, awarded 1989, lapsed 1993).
A typical sluice box for hydraulic riffles is short and
wide, contrasting with the long and narrow sluice box for
conventional riffles. Hydraulic riffles inject pressurised
clean water into the black sand from below. This keeps
the bed loose and fluidised indefinitely, so gold particles
continue to fall into the black sand and accumulate.
Randy Clarkson noted unlike conventional riffles

Adoption by placer gold miners


Hydraulic riffles are popular in New Zealand, and
have spread to the Yukon (Canada), Alaska (USA),
Mongolia, South America, Australia and doubtless
elsewhere. In Mongolia, the adoption of hydraulic riffles
has been slow, but of the 200 or so wash-plants more
than a dozen now have hydraulic riffles including: Cold
Gold Mongolia Ltd (New Zealand); Ochir LG Ltd (BritishDutch-Mongolian www.ochirlg.com); Gatshuurt Ltd; Jump
Ltd; Gazar Holdings Ltd; G&U Gold Ltd, and Barmash JSC.

that rely on the formation of vortices, hydraulic riffles rely


primarily on the settling velocity of gold [86-90]. In the
Yukon tests, hydraulic riffles performed well at extremely
low feed rates and low water flows but at high feed
rates are only suitable for coarse gold recovery (nugget
traps). The Yukon tests on hydraulic riffles were limited
and the author is unaware of any other tests. They are
unlikely to be as efficient as tuned conventional sluices in
recovering fine gold, but have the overriding advantage of
compactness for ease of low-cost mobile mining.

Figure 89.

GOLD RECOVERY BY HYDRAULIC RIFFLES WITHOUT MATTING Yukon tests

Recovery of placer gold by hydraulic riffles one of NZ-style, the other unknown. (compiler: Robin Grayson from Clarkson 1989 [86])

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Simple jigs 1960s-1970s research in China

Operation

Figure 31.

The pay gravel is first disaggregated, size-sorted and


oversize rejected in a screening plant.
The slurry feed passes across the jig bed that rests
on the jig screen. At the same time, water erupts through
the holes in the jig screen from the hutch below.
The water is pushed up by some means, usually a
rubber diaphragm inserted in the hutch as a pulsator
pushing up (upstroke) and sucking down (downstroke).
The drive is significant, either hydraulic or mechanical.
On the upstroke, the erupting water intermingles
with the jig bed, and causes all of the jig bed to be jigged
the steel balls may slightly rise and fall, but the layer of
smaller particles on or near the jig bed are pushed
upwards allowing Stokes Law to operate. The smaller
particles become sufficiently agitated to become a
fluidised bed like quicksand the thixotropic state. The
loosened heavies fall rapidly to burrow into the protective
jig bed, while lights are swept away as tailings.
On the downstroke, water is pulled downwards by
suction, and the upper part of the jig bed becomes a hard
layer the dilatant state. The suction plus gravity pulls
dense particles down to the bottom of the jig bed where
coarse gold and gold nuggets accumulate as jig bed
concentrate awaiting cleanout during batch discharge.
Finer gold is flushed through the jig screen into the
bottom of the hutch to be tapped off the bottom as hutch
concentrate continuous discharged via a spigot.

SIMPLE JIGS

Overhead view of a conventional 2x4 cell rectangular jig.


(drawing: Robin Grayson, adapted from Nio 1978 [55])

A simple jig consists of a square jig cell comprised of


a lower water-filled chamber (hutch) covered by a jig
screen above which slurry is introduced. Resting on the jig
screen are large heavy particles (e.g. steel balls) that
constitute the jig bed.
Small square jigs are often arranged in series (to
increase recovery) or in parallel (to increase capacity).
A simple square jig is typical of most jigs in exhibiting
a mix of continuous discharge of fine gold and batch
discharge of coarse gold.
Although easy to build and simple to operate, simple
square jigs are unsuitable for efficient placer gold mining:

the jigs footprint is large, demanding too much space on


dredges where space is a premium, and too bulky to easily
make into a mobile land-based processing unit;
water consumption is high to very high a serious problem
for land-based units if water is scarce and demanding large
tailings ponds for water storage and recirculation; and
high % recovery of fine gold recovery is difficult to achieve.

Adoption by placer gold miners

In China in the 1960s-70s experiments by placer


scientists of the Minerals Processing Laboratory of the
Kunming Institute of Metallurgy in Yunnan Province
determined the percentage gold recovery of simple jigs
[27]. Gold recovery falters at 0.8mm, is only 90% by
0.3mm, and collapses to 50% at 0.1mm.

Figure 32.

Simple square jigs used to be fairly popular in placer


gold mining, particularly in wash-plants on-board dredges,
but have virtually disappeared with the advent of more
modern jigs, although a few are seen in remote mines and
are occasionally used for upgrading concentrates.

GOLD RECOVERY BY SIMPLE JIGS China tests

Poor performance of simple jigs [3,27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Helix wheel (gold wheel) 1900s research in Colorado

Operation

Figure 39.

Using the Little CamelTM as an example, a gold wheel


is a rotating tilted pan with spiral ribs (riffles) on its
upper surface. The Little CamelTM has seven spirals but
other makes vary from one to seven. A cup of concentrate
is added every 10-15 seconds to a point on the gold
wheel. Water is supplied by a header tank or 12-volt
submersible pump, and added via a perforated pipe to
gently flush concentrate across the face of the pan. Gold
particles are trapped by the riffles and migrate to an exit
hole in the centre for recovery. Tailings are discharged
over the lip of the rotating pan.
Rotation is by a 12-volt motor, adaptable to a car
battery. The speed is critical and can be controlled
between 15 to 22 rpm. The best gold wheels are of
moulded polypropylene plastic for lightness and
smoothness. The 7-spiral Little CamelTM has a wheel 16.5
inches across. To enhance gold recovery:

HELIX WHEEL

Avista geologist using a gold wheel in near-freezing conditions.


(photo: Avista Ltd of Bishkek)

The helix wheel (gold wheel), commonly called a


spiral panning machine, is a flattened Archimedes screw
with the helix no longer turning inside a cylinder but
spiralling smaller and smaller to a central discharge hole.
The gold wheel was invented by Henry Earle of
Denver and patented in 1911 (US #987,866).
Some gold wheels are designed to recover fine gold,
whereas others focus on maximising throughput.
By arranging two to six gold wheels, Johnny Hilmer
Kleven of California invented a method of increasing the
washing capacity to 1.5-2.0 tons/hour, patented in 1977 and
1978 (US #4,008,152 and US #4,110,206), and he later
invented a single multi-step wheel that accomplishes the same
(US #4,267,036).
Industrial-scale gold wheels appeared in the 1980s
led by PMX Industries [61], and Keith B. Cleland was
awarded patents in 1983 and 1984 for solving how to
build large wheels with 60-100 helical riffles converging on
a single central port (US #4,389,308 and US #4,406,783).
Production of large gold wheels ceased after a decade.

Figure 40.

pre-screen the concentrate to <0.6 mm;


for fine gold, pre-screen to 0.15 to 0.30 mm;
if it clogs with black sand, add a teaspoon of normal sand;
material must be limited to keep it fluidised; and
to cut surface tension, add a little Cascade or Jet-Dry antispotting agent (not detergent).

Adoption by placer gold miners


Gold wheels are popular worldwide with recreational
miners, artisanal miners, prospectors and companies for
upgrading concentrate. Many makers exist in the USA and
in South America, Africa, China and Russian Federation.
Yet the gold wheels popularity is uneven and the reason
unclear.
The modern small portable gold wheel was invented
by Angus Nicholls in the USA and his Little CamelTM gold
wheel is still made by Camel Mining Inc (www.desfox.com).

GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLD WHEELS generalised

Recovery of placer gold by helix wheels (gold wheels) [61] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Brosseuks helix cylinder 1980s research in British Columbia

Operation

Figure 111.

Feed is introduced as slurry via a slurry pipe inserted


at the front end of the helix cylinder. The pipe discharges
about midway along the cylinder, the slurry landing on the
helical riffles. Heavies are caught in the grooves between
the riffles and being inside an Archimedes screw are
carried up the length of the helix by the rotation of the
riffles to the lip of the cylinder where they disgorge as a
continuous discharge of concentrate.
In contrast, the lighter particles and wash water
override the riffles to continue along the floor of the
cylinder to emerge as a continuous discharge of tailings.

THE GOLD MACHINE

One of the smaller portable helix cylinders invented by Raymond


Brosseuk, ideal for prospecting and evaluating deposits. (photo:
courtesy of www.extrac-tec.com)

Brosseuks helix cylinder was invented by Raymond


Brosseuk of British Columbia, patented in 1992 (US
#5,108,584) and marketed as The Gold Machine and has
been the most successful helix cylinder for use in largescale placer gold mining.
Externally a helix cylinder resembles a scrubber
(blind trommel). Both are long cylindrical drums tilted to
cause slurry fed in at the raised end to discharge at the
lower end. But the interior of a helix cylinder is lined by
transverse riffles that are helical, each spiralling round and
round along the length of the cylinder to produce an
Archimedes screw [159].
Brosseuks helix cylinder followed earlier innovations
during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the PMX helix and
the TRI-R helix, but little has been published apart from
the review by Michael Silva [61]. Good examples include
the truck-mounted helix cylinder patented by Loyd Harris
of Oregon in 1979 (US #4,178,238) and a helix cylinder
patented by Richard and Isabelle Tice of Washington State
in 1982 (US #4,339,043).
A helix cylinder can vary from a small cylinder (1ft
diameter and 5ft long) for upgrading of concentrates to a
large cylinder (8ft diameter and 40ft long) as a rougher.

Figure 112.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Tests of helix cylinders in the 1980s in North
American placer mines [61] later led to some uptake
worldwide. Today several types of large helix cylinders are
made in North America for placer gold recovery, notably:

The Gold Machine (Brosseuks helix cylinder),


precursor of the HPC helix belt www.extrac-tec.com
Gold ClaimerTM Rotary Riffle production unclear
Golden Boy Rotary Separator www.goldenboyinc.com

Miniature helix cylinders gained and retain a niche in


the recreational mining market as small-scale placer gold
recovery units:

Dixie Doodlebug famous machine, production ceased


Mountain Goat www.desfox.com [160]
Gold Screw www.goldscrew.com

GOLD RECOVERY BY BROESSEUKs HELIX CYLINDER

Recovery of placer gold by Brosseuks helix cylinder, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Helix belt 2000s research in Canada and USA

Operation

Figure 153.

Pay gravel is dumped in a hopper that feeds a


scrubbing/screening trommel that is an integral part of the
Extrac-TEC HPC wash-plant. Screening is at 6mm, 13mm
or 25mm. The washed undersize is fed as slurry to the
helix belt. The helix belt rotates as a reverse helix that
functions as an Archimedes screw. The helix belt is tilted
at a gentle angle sufficient to ensure water and lights fed
onto it are washed down-slope. Water and lights travel
down the central valley of the helix belt by spilling over
each rib (riffle) sequentially. Arriving at the bottom end of
the helix belt, the lights discharge as tailings.
The belts motion and water flow cause heavies to
settle on the helix belt. Any heavies escaping over a rib
are trapped and re-processed by the next rib. Once settled
on the helix belt, heavies are inexorably hauled up the
slope by tangential motion of the ribs (riffles).
Arriving at the top end of the helix belt, the heavies
continuously discharge into the concentrate sluice.
The bed-profile, inclination, characteristics of the
reverse helix, water flow and belt speed are configured to
produce the solids density desired (0.1 to 40% by weight).
The helix belt ensures concentrate fed to the sluice is
properly pre-concentrated, and prevents surging and so
flow is steady down the sluice and optimized for gold
recovery. This reduces water consumption, and the
manufacturer claims that gold recovery is increased down
to 40 microns. A high concentration ratio is achieved and
so the final concentrate is reasonably clean.

HPC HELIX BELT

Material ascending the helix belt of the HPC-10 wash-plant.


(photo: courtesy of Extrac-TEC www.extrac-tec.com)

The Extrac-TEC HPC helix belt is called by the makers


a transverse spiral concentration belt. The device is a
highly innovative form of Archimedes screw, unique to the
Extrac-TEC HPC systems. The helix belt, helix cylinder and
helix wheel (gold wheel) are three different classes of
Archimedes screw used for heavy mineral separation.
The helix belt has ribs that serve as riffles arranged
in a helix. The profile of the helix belt is sagged into a
bow-shaped gutter-like trough that is gently tilting to drain
the tailings down the trough, whereas the settled heavies
are hauled up the trough by the moving riffles.
Development began in 1986, the first prototype was
completed in 1988, and the first patent was granted in
1993 according to the company website. independent
analyses showed recovery efficiency close to 95%.
From 1999-2002 the company focused on using the
HPC technology for its own placer operations in Canada
such as in Anderson Creek in the Yukon.
According to the company (www.extrac-tec.com)
fresh patents were filed in 2003 for the more advanced
Generation-2 version using the helix belt.

Figure 154.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Extrac-TEC HPC wash-plant with its helix belt has
become widely available over the last few years, and
some are operational in most continents, and early
versions were sold in Canada, China, Mexico and USA.

GOLD RECOVERY BY THE EXTRAC-TEC HPC HELIX BELT generalised

Recovery of placer gold by the Extrac-TEC HPC helix belt, according to information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Wilfley shaking table 1890s research in Colorado

Operation

Figure 41.

The points of the compass are used for clarity in


describing the operation of the Wilfley shaking table.
The feed is screened to <3mm and fed into a small
hopper above the north-east corner of the shaking table,
where it is mixed with clean water. The resulting slurry is
introduced to the north-east corner of the shaking table
and begins to spread southwards as a thin film.
The feed fan outs towards the edge of the table,
allowing the operator to see exactly what is happening,
and to decide where to subdivide the fan into distinct
streams each dominated by a particular mineral.
The shaking motion has a slow westward stroke and
rapid return eastward stroke often with a bump. This
induces settled particles to crawl in a juddering manner
westward along the table with the thin film of slurry.
The shaking is usually very rapid with a frequency of
4 to 5.5 strokes per second. The shaking displacement is
usually half to one inch to-and-fro.
A set of low riffles aligned east-west guide the
heavies ever westward to fall off the south-west corner of
the table into a hopper as a continuous discharge.
Meanwhile, a spray bar introduces clean wash water
along the north edge of the table, sending a thin film of
clean water southward to encounter the riffles and the
westward flowing slurry. The wash water mixes with the
slurry and overrides the riffles taking the lighter particles
with it to spill over the southern edge as a continuous
discharge of tailings.

WILFLEY SHAKING TABLE

A Wilfley shaking table made in Australia. (photo: courtesy of the


manufacturer, Motive Traction Pty Ltd - www.motive-traction.com.au)

The Wilfley shaking table was invented by Arthur R.


Wilfley of Denver, Colorado and patented in 1897 (US
#590,675). The device proved enormously popular being
able to consistently recover fine particles of dense
minerals and with a high concentration ratio.
Many thousands of Wilfley tables were made and are
still manufactured. Dozens of variations emerged, such as
the Deister table [61] patented by William F. Deister and
Emil Deister of Indiana (US #1,642,843). Today shaking
tables are made in the USA, UK, Australia, Russia, China,
Thailand and elsewhere.
Shaking tables are thin-film devices whereby heavy
particles are induced to settle from a flowing film of slurry
while light particles are washed away as tailings. The thinfilm needs a large surface area and therefore some sort of
table shape is essential, ranging from small laboratory
tables to production tables 7x15ft in size.
A shaking table can recover >90% of gold from 3mm
down to about 70, and still able to recover >70% of 50
gold, and useful amounts of 30 gold.
Disadvantages include: low capacity, bulky size, high
water usage, and need for having a stable.

Figure 42.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Wilfley shaking tables remain popular amongst placer
gold miners in many regions of the world. A key factor is
that miners like to see the gold separating.

GOLD RECOVERY BY WILFLEY SHAKING TABLE generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Wilfley shaking table, based on comments of the British Geological Survey [24]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Shaking tables 1960s-1970s research in China

Operation

Figure 43.

Typically the concentrate is screened at 3mm, and


fed to the shaking table as either slurry or spooned into a
small hopper on the corner of the shaking table where
water is added to produce the desired slurry.
Shaking tables operate as a thin-film separator, and a
vast range of shaking tables existed by the 1970s. Decks
are of wood or fibreglass; deck coverings include linoleum,
plastic, rubber or fibreglass; riffles vary in height, width,
spacing and orientation; shaking varies in amplitude,
frequency, length, forward velocity and return velocity,
and may by to-and-fro or orbital.
Even for a particular shaking table there are many
critical variables, such as the gold particles size, flatness,
surface texture and purity; presence of other minerals
(light or heavy) attached to the gold; nature of other
particles present; dilution of the feed; the fineness of the
feed; and the problem of any traces of oil or grease.

CHINESE SHAKING TABLES

Chinese-built shaking tables of traditional design recovering gold


from slurry fed from a ball mill at a Chinese-owned hardrock gold
mine in Bayanhogor Aimag in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson)

For over a century shaking tables have remained


popular in China as elsewhere for clean-up of concentrate
from placer gold wash-plants and milled hardrock ore.
In the 1970s, placer scientists of the Minerals
Processing Laboratory of the Kunming Institute of
Metallurgy in Yunnan Province determined the percentage
gold recovery of conventional shaking tables [27]. It is
unclear what type of shaking tables were tested or the
size of the feed, but the results showed gold recovery
starts to falter at 0.5mm and is only 90% by 0.2mm, and
collapsed to 75% at 0.1mm.
These results are disappointing, and a modern
shaking table if operated carefully performs significantly
better. However in the 1970s the observed performance
of shaking tables in the China tests would have been
considered acceptable, bearing in mind the chronic
performance of simple jigs and sluices at that time.

Figure 44.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Shaking tables are popular amongst placer gold
miners in many regions of the world. A key factor for
many miners is that they see the gold separating. They
can be seen in action in Alaska, Yukon, Alberta, British
Columbia, California, Central America, South America,
Africa, Australia, New Zealand, S.E. Asia, China, Mongolia
and the Russian Federation. Manufacturers of shaking
tables are numerous and widely spread, for instance:

United Kingdom Holman-Wilfley Ltd of England


www.holmanwilfley.co.uk
Australia Motive Traction Pty Ltd Inc of New South Wales
www.motive-traction.com.au
USA Outokumptechnology Inc of Florida
www.outokumptechnology.com
Thailand Dove Engineering
www.dovemining.com
China China National Gold Corporation (CNGC)
www.chinagold.org.placer.html

GOLD RECOVERY BY TRADITIONAL SHAKING TABLES China tests

Recovery of placer gold by traditional shaking table of uncertain type, results of tests in China [27]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Shaking tables 1960s research in the Soviet Union

Operation

Figure 45.

Government-funded placer scientists in the Soviet


Union undertook intensive tests during the 1960s and
1970s on the ability of shaking tables to recover gold [62].
In one test, the Soviet scientists appraised a
conventional Soviet-made shaking table, probably
modelled closely on Wilfley or Deister tables, with four
sizes of placer gold described as laminar, lumpy [62]. It
is not quite clear what the English translation should be.
The performance was less good than expected for placer
gold by western users of shaking tables, with >90%
recovery only possible for 150 gold and larger. Recovery
fell to only 80% for 90 gold and under 60% for 50 gold.
In a second test, the Soviet scientists tested a
conventional Soviet-made shaking table, with five sizes of
placer gold described as porous, acicular [62]. Again it is
not entirely clear what the correct English translation
should be. The performance was poor, with >90%
recovery only possible for 300 gold and larger. Recovery
fell to only 80% for 150 gold, 55% for 100 gold and
under 35% for 50 gold.
It is unclear what the parameters of the Soviet tests
were, rendering it impossible to interpret the results. For
instance the feed is assumed to have been screened at
3mm as is standard practice, but if screened at say 5mm
then performance would have been compromised.
The results cast doubt on the ability of shaking tables
to perform well at recovering fine placer gold in industrialscale operations, and demonstrate the adverse effect on
recovery if the gold particles are porous or flat.

SOVIET SHAKING TABLE

Shaking table of traditional Soviet design at the Sharin Gol Mine


of Polymet Potala Ltd in Mongolia. (photo: Robin Grayson)

In spite of the popularity of the Wilfley shaking table


and its derivatives, little has been published their ability to
recover gold of different size or flatness. Many reports
affirm shaking tables are effective or successful in
recovering gold of this or that size or shape, yet rarely
mention the amount of gold lost.
Studies on the ability of shaking tables to recover tin
(cassiterite SnO2) led people to assume a shaking table
would perform better with gold; gold being so dense. This
assumption is dubious, for gold, especially placer gold, is
often leached and porous so its density is reduced; gold is
markedly hydrophobic making it prone to float on a
shaking table; and gold is often so flat its settling velocity
is less than expected. Conversely, cassiterite is typically
not leached, not porous, not hydrophobic and not flat.
Only in the Soviet Union and China does it seem
proper scientific tests were conducted on the ability of
traditional shaking tables to recover gold, and later by the
British Geological Survey [24].

Figure 46.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Shaking tables are popular amongst placer gold
miners in many regions of the world. A key factor for
many miners is that they see the gold separating.

GOLD RECOVERY BY TRADITIONAL SHAKING TABLES Soviet Union tests

Recovery of placer gold by Soviet shaking tables in the Soviet Union. (compiler: Robin Grayson, after Zamyatin and Konyukova [62])

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BGS shaking table 1990s research in United Kingdom

Operation

Figure 131.

The BGS shaking table is compact and light enough


to be carried over the shoulder by a strong individual.
The table is manually driven, using bicycle gears and
chains plus rubber bands made from car tyre inner tubes.
The drive is hand cranked one turn of the handle
translates into five bumps to the table via an eccentric
cam. Hand cranking at a comfortable one turn per second
translates into five bumps per second enough to operate
the shaking table. Rebound from the bump is by means of
a rubber band. If desired the crank can be modified to be
powered by a bicycle, motor cycle or a motor, either
electric or diesel.
BGS trials at Kias Creek in the Philippines were
successful; the table was easily set up and adjusted to a
stable configuration and heavy mineral concentrates were
readily recovered. A hand lens showed much fine-grained
gold had been recovered. Laboratory examination
revealed most of the gold was only around 40 in size and
grains as small as 10 had been recovered.
Trials at Acupan in the Philippines were problematical
and it was far more difficult to set up the table in a stable
configuration. Laboratory examination of the concentrates
showed that significant amounts of gold had been
recovered from ores and tailings and substantial amounts
were very fine-grained, around 30 in size.

BGS SHAKING TABLE

Top view of the Mongolian home-made version of the handcranked BGS shaking table. (photo: Robin Grayson)

The BGS shaking table was developed by the British


Geological Survey (BGS) as part of the DFID/BGS
Technology Development Research (TDR) project R6226

Mitigation of mining-related mercury pollution hazards.


[24]. The task was to design, construct and test a cheap,
simple shaking table that could be produced for use by
small-scale miners in developing countries. The BGS
shaking table is being evaluated by recreational gold
miners in North America and by the Support for Artisanal
Mining (SAM) project in Mongolia (www.sam.mn).
BGS laboratory trials showed the BGS shaking table is
as good as and probably slightly more effective than
the commercial Wilfley shaking table for in recovering
fine-grained gold. However the BGS laboratory trials were
carried out in almost perfect conditions:

the samples were washed and deslimed prior to tests;


the table was set up on large flat benches; and
a well controlled, even pressure water supply was available.

Adoption by placer gold miners

Field trials show the BGS shaking table to be an


effective device. Its use is more difficult in adverse
conditions where material to be processed is muddy,
stability is a problem and water pressure is variable.
Under optimum conditions, it seems that the BGS
shaking table can be expected to routinely recover almost
all moderately fine gold (100 to 1mm) and probably
>90% of very fine gold down to 50.

Figure 132.

For recreational gold miners the BGS shaking table


offers a simple rapid means of upgrading concentrates in
the field rather than bringing them home as well as
removing any temptation to resort to mercury.
For artisanal gold miners the BGS shaking table is
small, lightweight, transportable, affordable and offers a
possible alternative to mercury for upgrading concentrates.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BGS SHAKING TABLE based on UK tests

Recovery of placer gold by the hand-cranked BGS shaking table, tested under laboratory conditions [24]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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GemeniTM table 1980s research in Colorado

Operation

Figure 113.
TM

Feed properties are critical to the success of a


GemeniTM table. The feed size must be <1mm, and ideally
the feed should have been passed through a magnetic
separator remove any tramp metal. The feed density
requires constant checking with a pulp meter, and a
flowmeter is required to maintain the correct rate of flow.
The water should be filtered to remove suspended solids
and organic material.
Water usage is substantial and has to be at constant
pressure, best achieved by positioning a small header tank
three metres above the table deck. The room height has
to be correspondingly high.
The GemeniTM table is made of fibreglass supported
on a steel frame. It is designed to be used inside a
building with a solid floor to which the unit is then
securely bolted. It is important to be securely fastened to
the floor, as all the drive motion must be transferred to
the table deck to achieve good performance. In modern
models, a direct drive system has a geared motor driving
a crank connected to the table deck. To absorb overrun,
the crank has a sprung connection system, and a bump
stop system provides a fine tuning mechanism. Table
tuning is by adjusting a single screw.

GEMENITM TABLE

A Gemeni table showing streaks of black sand and yellow


streaks of gold. (photos: courtesy of MD Technologies Ltd
www.gravityrecovery.com)

The GemeniTM table was invented by Henry W.


Rodgers of Colorado and patented in 1986 (US
#4,758,334). The device is an innovative shaking table
designed to recover fine gold to directly produce a clean
smeltable concentrate to produce dore bars. Often the
cleaned concentrate is good enough to do so.
The GemeniTM table is claimed by the maker [161],
and confirmed by users and researchers [3,61,162], to be
capable of producing a very clean gold concentrate from
gold-bearing black-sand concentrates when fed <1mm
material. Recovery is excellent down to about 40-50
[161].

Figure 114.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The GemeniTM table is now seen in most placer gold
mining regions of the world. It appears to be significant
better than other shaking tables, but is also significantly
more expensive. Locally-made copy-cats are made in
some parts of South America and perhaps elsewhere.
The switch to the GemeniTM table has been slow and
incomplete, perhaps due to the higher capital cost, the
conservatism of most placer companies and slightly more
demanding housing and skill.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GEMENITM TABLE

Recovery of placer gold by GemeniTM table, according to the original patent and testing [161,162]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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U-TechTM reverse polarity table 1990s research in Arizona

Operation

Figure 135.

The feed is concentrate screened at <-inch. Water


is added to the RP-4 table at a rate of 8-14 gallons/minute
via a water distribution bar. The unit includes a pretreatment feed sluice tray described as a sluice box
moulded into deck. The slurry spreads across the table
a very smooth 1-piece riffled deck and launder tray
moulded from ABS plastic (truck bed liner material).
The U-TechTM RP-4 is driven by a HP motor,
115/220v, AC 60 Hz, 8.6 Amp to produce a smoother
reciprocating motion than possible with a conventional
shaking table, by using spring steel plates instead of linear
sliding bearings.
A special feature is spinning rare earth magnets
positioned underneath the deck surface. By reversing the
magnetic polarity of magnetite at about 800 cycles/minute
(elliptical polarization of the magnetite) magnetite rises to
the surface and is then more easily washed into the tails
by the transverse flow of water. This is aided by the
magnetite particles delivering additional magnetism by
aligning their magnetic poles to produce long chains.
The tailings leaving the table pass a tails nugget
trap before exiting as a continuous discharge.
An optional deck screen added to the U-TechTM RP-4
table operates as a combined shaker screen, magnetite
separator and gold gravity concentrator.

REVERSE POLARITY TABLE

Side view of the drive mechanism, U-Tech RP-4 shaking table,


Central Mineral Laboratory in Ulaanbaatar. (photo: Davasambuu
of the Swiss-funded Support for Artisanal Mining project)

The U-TechTM reverse polarity (RP) table was


invented by Darvin Wade of North Virginia and patented in
2001 (US #6,308,835). The RP table has a reverse
polarity spinning magnet system under the table top that
aids separation of black sands. The RP table is built by UTech Co. in Arizona, USA - www.goldequipment.com/goldmining-equipment-concentrating-table-RP-4.html
The U-TechTM RP-4 table has a 12x48inch cleaning
deck, weighs 60lb and fits in a large car boot. U-Tech
claims the RP-4 table saves down to 1 micron (Lab Test)
www.goldequipment.com/gold-mining-equipment-warranty.html
Larger units such as the RP-16 table can process >8
tons/hour (4 tons of black sands) of sand-sized feed. The
RP-16-D gravity concentrating table weighs about 2,200
lbs and requires 60-80 gallons of water/minute.
According to U-Tech, we have users claiming the U-

Adoption by placer gold miners


Reverse polarity RP tables gained some popularity in
North America, but in spite of the claimed advantages of
the U-TechTM RP table they have not yet begun to
seriously challenge the entrenched position of the
traditional shaking tables or the advanced types of
shaking table such as the GemeniTM table.

TECH heavy mineral concentrators are saving down to one


micron and, will recover 99% of microscopic gold from your
magnetite concentrates and is designed to run continuously",
also we have users claiming the U-TECH heavy mineral
concentrators are saving down to -500 particle size", and
demonstrated to move one micron size dry particles.

Figure 136.

GOLD RECOVERY BY U-TECHTM REVERSE POLARITY TABLE

Recovery of placer gold by U-Tech reverse polarity table, according to the original patent and makers website. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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GoltronTM machine 1990s research in Utah

Operation
Gold-bearing black-sand concentrates as coarse as 35mm is fed into the variable feed-rate hopper of the
GoltonTM unit. The feed rate is 150lbs/hour of solids and
300-600 gallons/hour of water. Feed properties are less
critical than for conventional tables, or advanced tables
such as the GemeniTM table. The GoltonTM variable feedrate hopper contains an auger that dispenses steady
amounts of feed onto a coarse wet vibrating screen with
1.19mm apertures.
Oversize (>1.19mm) is routed to a carpeted nugget
trap. Undersize is re-screened on a fine wet vibrating
screen of 35-mesh (0.42mm). The GoltonTM table is
unique in having a coarse side and a fines side. Oversize
re-screened material (>0.42mm) is directed to the coarse
side of the GoltonTM table, while the undersize re-screened
material (<0.42mm) is directed to the fines side of the
GoltonTM table.
Gold is recovered in three locations:

Figure 133.

GOLTRONTM MACHINE

View of a Goltron ready for action. (photo: courtesy of Goldfield


International www.goldfieldeng.com)

>1.19mm gold in the nugget trap;


0.42-1.19mm gold on the coarse side of the GoltonTM table;
<1.19mm gold on the fine side of the GoltonTM table.

The GoltonTM unit has a power requirement of


110/220 volts, single phase at 50/60 hertz, to vibrate the
table and/or screens.
The manufacturer claims that recovery efficiencies
are excellent, and that the unit is capable of achieving
gold recovery down to minus 400-mesh (37). However
test results have yet to be published.

The GoltronTM unit is a recent innovation by Goldfield


International of Utah (www.goldfieldeng.com) designed to
recover not only fine gold but a full range of gold sizes
including nuggets to directly produce a clean smeltable
concentrate. It seems to be the only shaking table set-up
capable of catching everything from nuggets to fine gold.
The manufacturers claim it is fastest, most efficient

system that does not rely on chemicals or amalgamation

Adoption by placer gold miners

to separate fine gold. In seems possible that upgraded


concentrate from a GoltronTM table may be pure enough
for direct smelting to produce dore bars, but little
information has been published.

The GoltronTM Unit is new and is gaining some


acceptance by placer gold miners at least in North
America.

Figure 134.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GOLTRONTM MACHINE - generalised

Recovery of placer gold by the Goltron machine, based on information issued by the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Bartles-Mozley multi-deck tables 1970s research in Cornwall

Operation

Figure 63.

This account is based on Silvas description of the


Bartles-Mozley multi-deck concentrator [61].
The feed consist of slurry of 15-35% solids that have
been finely screened, ideally 100. The slurry is fine
enough to be termed slime.
The 40-deck unit is able to process about 20
tons/hour of solids. The feed pipe tops up a feed box from
where a flexible pipe conveys feed to each deck, the feed
being spread across the width of the deck by means of a
manifold with twelve discharge holes.
The slurry flows down the deck sloping 1.3 to 2.5,
and encounters transverse riffles 10 to 100 thousandths
of an inch high, spaced apart by 1 to 3 inches [patent].
The deck and its riffles undergo an orbital horizontal
motion imparted by an out-of-balance electric motor. The
orbital horizontal motion has a large amplitude of 5 to 18
cm at a frequency of 0.8 to 3 Hz. The orbital horizontal
motion energises the light particles to inhibit them settling
and they remain suspended in the flowing film of water
that overrides the riffles to discharge as tailings.
Meanwhile high density particles settle on the table
and remain restrained by the riffles.
After running for about 35 minutes, feed is stopped
and the decks tilted slightly to drain, then tilted steeply to
allow the concentrates to be flushed into a collection
sump. The tables are then returned to the original
orientation and processing recommences.

BARTLES-MOZLEY MULTI-DECK TABLES

Layout simplified from the patent. (drawing: Robin Grayson).

The Bartles-Mozley multi-deck concentrator consists of


40 fibreglass decks (tables) each 3.6ft x 5ft arranged in
two sections of 20 decks each, suspended by cables. Each
deck is riffled and connected by -inch plastic formers
that define the pulp channel. Good recovery is from 100
to 5, and in some cases as small as 1 micron [61].
The device soon became probably the most widely
used slimes table today [61] due to its high throughput,
small footprint, low labour requirement, low power
consumption, and low water consumption. [75,76]. After
more than a decade its popularity collapsed due to
competition from new centrifuges (e.g. KnelsonTM bowl
and FalconTM C bowl) and better chemical leaching.
Several types of multi-deck concentrators existed.
Richard H. Mozley of Cornwall patented a variant in the UK
and then in 1981 the United States (US #4,251,358), and
assigned to the National Research Development
Corporation. A modern variant was patented by Paul
Marriot of Cornwall in 1989 (US #5,148,922) but allowed
to lapse in 1996.

Figure 64.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Bartles-Mozley separator was intended primarily
for hardrock mills and tin recovery, and sold worldwide.
The author is unaware of it having ever being applied to
recovery of very fine gold, although it has potential.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BARTLES-MOZLEY ORBITAL TABLES generalised

Gold recovery by Bartles-Mozley orbital tables, according to Michael Silva [61]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Pinched sluice historical usage

Operation
Feed is screened at 100 to 1mm and should have
no more than 5% clays [25]. Slurry is fed by gravity from
a trommel or screen via a chute into the head of the
pinched sluice or arrives by pipe fed by a slurry pump.
The floor and walls of the pinched sluice must be free
of obstructions to achieve laminar flow. Laminar flow
permits gravitational settling and stratification of slurry.
In compelling the slurry to converge to a pinchpoint, wear on the floor and walls may be severe, and a
replaceable liner such as smooth rubber or wear-resistant
material is advisable. A pinched sluice should incorporate:

Figure 47.

Pinched sluices cannot exceed about 70% recovery


of heavy minerals, as this is the limit of the pinching
mechanism [25]. The author suggests it is possible that
gold particles may continue to be crowded and upgraded
experiments are required.
A pinched sluice appears, in the opinion of the
author, to have two potential applications that are quite
different and should not be confused:

PINCHED SLUICE

General outline of a pinched sluice. (drawing: Robin Grayson,


after Michael Priester, Projekt-consult www.projekt-consult.de)

Pinched sluices (fanned sluices) have been used for


centuries [25]. A pinched sluice is a small sluice that
tapers towards the discharge end. Slurry rushing down the
sluice gets crowded, the slurry is forced to deepen, and
the crowded denser particles gravitate towards the bottom
forcing the lighter particles to rise above them. As a result
the slurry discharge is stratified a very dense underflow
of valuable concentrate, a medium density middle flow
(middlings) and a low density upper flow (tails). The
discharge is divided by splitters into separate streams
concentrate flow, middlings flow and tailings flow.
A pinched sluice is a low cost way to produce
concentrate, yet the middlings need to be recirculated.
Most pinched sluices are used to recover mineral sands
[63-66] and are a neglected device in gold recovery.
A sister device to a pinched sluice is the Wright
impact plate invented by Douglas Charles Wright of New
South Wales and patented in 1978 (US #4,078,997).

Figure 48.

a means to adjust the inclination of the sluice; and


a means to adjust the angle and position of splitters.

traditional application producing an underflow,


middlings flow and a tailings flow; and
additional application controlling surges in the feed rate.

Some pinched sluices have permanent magnets


installed beneath them to encourage magnetite and other
magnetic particles to join the underflow. This could assist
in creating a traction carpet of dense particles at the base
of the slurry, and in theory this would assist in the
ejection of low density particles and the burrowing down
of tiny gold particles. More research is warranted.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Pinched sluices are rarely seen in placer gold mines
in spite of their obvious potential.

GOLD RECOVERY BY PINCHED SLUICES generalised

Recovery of placer gold by pinched sluices; generalised information compiled from fragmentary sources. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Reichert cone 1960s research in Australia

Operation
Feed is pre-screened as cones are unable to
concentrate particles >0.5mm, and recovery falls if clay is
>5% of the feed. The cone is sensitive to changes in
slurry feed density (55-70% solids)
Slurry feed is poured into the cone evenly around its
circumference, and flows to the central hole. The slurry
becomes progressively crowded, due to all the particles
converging upon the central hole. The increased packing of
suspended particles increases the overall density of the
lower slurry. Suppose the slurry fluid attains 2g/cm3, then:

Figure 49.

By repeated crowding, the free settling regime


becomes a hindered settling regime, cutting the terminal
Settling Velocity of all particles even more, and the lighter
particles such as quartz become increasingly vulnerable to
ejection from the ever-denser slurry.
Gold concentrate is removed by annular slots in the
cone. Consistent recovery of gold particles >45 have
been reported [67]. At the Snake River in Idaho, USA,
gold was recovered using a Reichert cone in conjunction
with a conventional shaking table. Gold recovery >85%
was noted by Thomas Ferree [68], with 44% of recovered
gold being <75.

REICHERT CONES

Example of Reichert cones. (photo: courtesy of Dale Henderson


of the manufacturer Roche Mining www.rochemt.com.au)

The Reichert cone was invented by Ernst Reichert of


Queensland who applied for an Australian patent in 1966
and was awarded a US patent in 1968 (US #3,379,310).
The device packs pinched sluices in a circle, then
dispenses with their side walls to create a single cone with
a central discharge hole. The flow is free of edge-effects
without side walls.
The cone is of lightweight structural glass reinforced
plastic (GRP), laminated with polyurethane. The cones are
stacked in series to repeat the benefit of crowding.
Multiple stages of upgrading are achieved. Stacks of cones
are mounted in circular frames over 6 metres tall. The
3.5-metre cone processes up to 350 tons/hour. Water
consumption is less than for sluices or jigs [61]. The unit has
no moving parts and very low operating costs, but needs
screens, cyclones and slurry pumps.

Figure 50.

quartz terminal Settling Velocity cut from 0.9 to 0.4cm/sec;


magnetite terminal Settling Velocity cut from 2.3 to 2.7cm/sec;
gold terminal Settling Velocity cut from 7.6-9.8 to 7.1-9.3cm/sec.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Reichert cones have not gained much foothold in
placer gold miners. They have been used in Queensland
by a 20m3/hour plant to recover fine gold from tailings. In
Snake River Idaho, a sand and gravel company recovered
gold with Reichert cones while selling gravel.

GOLD RECOVERY BY REICHERT CONES

Recovery of placer gold by Reichert cones, according to Erik Spiller and Thomas Feree [67,68]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Humphrey spirals 1940s research in Colorado

Operation

Figure 51.

Feed is slurry of 25-35% solids, with the solids


screened to 3mm or preferably to 1-2mm. As well as the
feed being finely screened, care is required to ensure that
the feed rate and feed consistency is maintained as
constant as possible to ensure satisfactory results
The slurry descends the chute of the Humphrey
spiral, the chute twisted into typically six windings (turns).
The heaviest particles fall to the bottom of the channel
where their velocity is retarded by friction. Upon slowing,
the heavy particles are less affected by centrifugal forces
generated by the spiral flow of slurry than are the lighter
faster particles that are less retarded by friction. As a
consequence the heavy particles spiral along the inside
walls of the channel, while the faster lighter particles spiral
further out towards the outer rim of the channel.
The heavier particles are recovered as concentrate
from discharge outlets on the inside of the channel.
Separation precision can be improved by adding additional
water during the sorting process.
Key variables are the cross section of the channel, the
diameter of the spiral, the number of windings
(revolutions), slope of the channel and the positioning and
number of discharge outlets and supplementary-water
intakes.

HUMPHREY SPIRALS

Humphrey spiral illustrated on the front page of the classic Tools


for Mining Book by Michael Priester and colleagues [25]

Modern spirals began with Frank Pardee of


Pennsylvania who was awarded patents in 1899, 1924 and
1939 (US #629,590, US # 1,516,926 and US #2,145,315).
The Humphrey spiral was invented by Ira B.
Humphrey of Denver USA who applied for US patents in
1943 and was awarded patents in 1947 (US #2,431,559
and US #2,431,560) and 1955 (US #2,700,469).
Advantages include low cost, long life, small
footprint, good recovery of fine gold and ease of visually
checking to see if material is separating properly.
The basic Humphrey spiral is 3 metres tall with 5-6
windings of the channel and is capable of processing 0.812 tons/day of concentrate depending on the design of
the channel and the particle size. Early production models
were of cast iron sections and required numerous pipes
for supplementary-water intake and discharge outlets
making it a rather complicated, very heavy and difficult to
adjust; and rapid wear of the rubber lining and irregular
wash water distribution caused production problems [61].
Later Humphrey spirals were of lightweight material and
more compact being a double helix.

Figure 52.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Humphrey spirals enjoyed great popularity for coal
cleaning and mineral sand recovery, but were very rarely
used in placer gold recovery. Early models were difficult
for placer miners due to the weight and the need not only
close screening and a steady feed of slurry. The later
model 7 Reichert spirals gained a stronger niche amongst
placer mining companies for fine gold recovery.

GOLD RECOVERY BY HUMPHREY SPIRALS

Recovery of placer gold by Humphrey spirals, according to diverse fragmentary sources. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Mark-7 Reichert spirals 1980s research in California, Arizona and Colorado

Operation
The feed is screened at <2mm and poured as slurry
in the spiral channel and helter-skelter down the spiral
with the denser particles settling as dense basal slurry or
traction carpet. The channels cross-section has a
continuously variable profile that takes its deep axis
outward during the descent, and the stream of dense
particles is constrained to follow the axis of the channel.
At the bottom of the helter-skelter run, the stream of
heavy concentrate is collected via a take-off port on the
final turn of the spiral.
As well as the concentrate stream, three other
streams are collected at the bottom of the spiral:

Figure 115.

MARK-7 REICHERT SPIRALS

Mark 7 Reichert spirals installed on a mobile placer gold washplant in the USA. (photo: courtesy of John Strain)

Reichert spirals were developed in Australia in the


1960s by using lightweight materials and reassessing the
hydrodynamics of the Humphrey spiral.
Reichert spirals are made of lightweight fibreglass, a
material that permitted many improvements and
variations. Over 20 models exist, the spirals contoured to
separate particles of a particular range of densities.
Mark-7 Reichert spirals have been produced since
1982 and its spirals are designed to recover cassiterite
particles with a density of 6 to 7g/cm3 and it then proved
effective at recovering fine gold in tests in North America
[61,163-166]. The mark-7 model has no moving parts,
and can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for
many years. Compared with earlier spirals, the mark-7 is
easier to operate and requires less water.
For tests, a spiral is mounted vertically on a support
column. For production, identical spirals are mounted on
the same column as a double or triple helix to increase the
capacity from one-start to two-start or three-start.

Figure 116.

concentrate stream taken for further upgrading;


middlings stream recycled (acts as buffer, inhibiting gold
loss if slurry surges or fluctuates);
tailings stream discarded;
water stream low in solids, either discarded or recycled.

Compared to the traditional Humphrey spirals, all the


concentrate off-take ports are eliminated from the spiral
except on its final turn. This simplification dispenses with
a large amount of expensive tubing, and eliminates the
need for the addition of any top-up wash water.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Mark-7 Reichert spirals proved to be successful in
recovering moderately fine placer gold in California,
Arizona and Colorado USA, and proved effective at
scavenging for fine gold from washed sand concentrates
at sand pits [164-166]. But the take-up of spirals by placer
gold miners has been low, being seen only as a valuable
processing stage rather than a key component of a washplant. An exception is gold placers that are fine wellwashed sand of high energy coasts and large swift rivers.

GOLD RECOVERY OF REICHERT SPIRALS based largely on recovery of cassiterite

Recovery of placer gold by mark7 Reichert spirals, according to the cassiterite and placer gold tests [164-166]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Dukes E-sludge tank 1970s research in Georgia

Operation

Figure 55.

The inventor claims the pay gravel need not be


screened as blockage by large stones are easily removed.
Yet dry screening to reject >10-15cm oversize would
surely be advantageous; and the oversize could be fed
into a conventional small wash-plant parked alongside.
The inventor recommends a set of six units be
mounted in parallel on a flat-bed truck, collectively able to
process about 130m3/hour of loose pay gravel. Each unit
has a rectangular hopper-shaped tank in which pay gravel
is dumped by a conveyor, front-end loader, etc. The
material should be dry or moist and should not be wetted
by spray-bars. Water is injected into the base of the tank
by means of a manifold of perforated water pipes, at a
pressure of 5-35psi but typically 5-10psi. Unlike a jig, Etower or sluice, the water requirement is very low each
tank is about a metre wide but a tank requires a mere
7.6m3/hour of water to process about 22m3/hour of loose
pay gravel per hour. This is an order of magnitude less
water than a Yukon-style sluice needs to process the same
volume of pay gravel.
The pile of gravel in the tank cavitates from below
due to contact with injected water. The slurrified basal
gravel is free to stratify (dense material at the bottom)
and creeps along the base of the tank tilted at about 12.
The slowly discharging sluggish porridge-like slurry
travels down a chute tilted at 15-35 and the dense lower
material is trapped by slots. According to the inventor,
95% recovery is normal, and that recovered gold can be
as small as 8! However no tests are published.

DUKEs E-SLUDGE TANK

Dukes E-Tank on a flat-bed truck. A manifold injects water to


slurrify the base of the mound of dryish pay-gravel, creating
stiffish slurry that undergoes density stratification. The stratified
slurry flows down the floor of the tank to the right, discharging in
a recovery box where dense basal slurry is trapped in slots.
(drawing: Robin Grayson, adapted from Dukes patent)

Dukes E-tank was invented by Arthur Duke of


Georgia USA and patented in 1976 (US #3,951,787).
Gold-separating devices classed as E-tanks include Dukes
E-tank, Graefes E-tank and Pyramids E-tank.
Elutriated sludge tanks (E-tanks) is a term coined by
the author [28] for devices that inject water from below
into a tank containing a bed of pay gravel that is quite
thick (say >10 cm) to create a fairly stiff slurry just watery
enough to stimulate gravitational settling of dense
particles and rising of low-density particles. The settled
heavy concentrate can be a continuous discharge from
near the base of the E-tank (e.g. Dukes E-tank), or
remains in the tank as a lag deposit to await batch
discharge (e.g. Graefes E-tank).
Unlike an E-tower, the E-tanks contents remain as
porridge-like slurry from top to bottom, and the slurry is
not watery enough for classic hindered settling regime.
Instead the contents resemble a thixotropic quicksand.
Unlike a jig, an E-tank contains slurry throughout.
There is no jig screen, no ragging, no hutch chamber and
slurry is not pulsed upwards (i.e. no jigging).

Figure 56.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Since the award patent in 1976, the author has been
unable to trace any record of Dukes E-tank being used by
placer gold miners, in spite of its potential.

GOLD RECOVERY BY DUKEs ELUTRIATED SLUDGE TANK

Recovery of placer gold by Dukes E-tank, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Graefes E-tank 1980s research in California

Operation

Figure 90.

GRAEFEs E-TANK

Cut-away side view of Graefes E-tank showing the injection


water rising from below. (drawing: Robin Grayson)

Graefes E-tank was invented by Ralph Graefe of


California and patented in 1985 (US #4,523,989). Rights
were transferred to Keene Engineering Inc who sold it as
the Keene Hydromatic Jig. This is a misnomer as it lacks
the key features of a jig.
Graefes E-tank is an elutriated sludge tank that not
only has its contents slurrifed by injecting water from
below, but is vibrated at 180 cycles/second to prevent
hard-cake and to ensure that particles are distributed
throughout the depth of the slurry by density, not by size.
According to test results in Ralph Graefes patent,
the device can recover 100% of gold as fine as 70,
falling slightly to a very impressive 93% of 30 gold. The
test results show a 60 slope to the walls of the tank
recover far more fine gold than a 45 slope.

Figure 91.

The unit is wheeled by the operator. Pay gravel is


spaded into a hopper-screen above the tank. Screening
can be - inch but finer screening aids gold recovery.
Water is injected via a manifold in the base of the tank at
1 to 8 psi the larger the gravel the higher the pressure.
The finer the material then the less the throughput 8 tons/hour for 0.3-5mm falling to 2 tons/hour for 3575. The Keene website says up to 4 cubic yards of
material can be processed per hour, and can operate
on as little as 10 gallons of water per minute. The
patent states 7-8 gallons/minute (1.6-1.8m3/hour) is
required to process coarse material, and only 1-2
gallons/minute (0.2-0.5m3/hour) to process fine material.
A little additional water is required from a hand-held spray
bar to inhibit hard-cake from forming.
Gold larger than 75 sinks to the bottom of the tank
to await batch discharge. But <75 gold is carried
towards the spillway lip and so a skimmer plate is welded
on to prevent it escaping.
Batch discharge is rather cumbersome. The tank is
progressively tilted more and more steeply to discharge
its upper contents as tailings. Then the residual
concentrate flushed out with water by opening the bung
in the discharge pipe in the base of the tank.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Graefes E-tank was marketed as the Keene
Hydromatic Jig to recreational miners but manufacture
ceased after a decade or so. Members of the Alaska Gold
Forum (AGF) are re-evaluating the device and it may yet
enjoy a revival at least amongst recreational miners. Graefes
E-tank is a complete wash-plant, but small. Although ideal
for recreational and artisanal miners it is difficult to
envisage how it might be scaled up for industrial mining.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GRAEFEs ELUTRIATED SLUDGE TANK (Keene Hydromatic Jig)

Placer gold recovery by Graefes E-tank, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Pyramid E-tank (Pyramid rotary jig) 1990s research in California

Operation

Figure 123.

The tank is first filled with screened material how


much screening is unclear. When the tank is full of
sediment, pressurised water injected from below how
much pressure is unclear. As with other E-tanks, little
water is required. Water consumption varies with the gold
size to be recovered 2mm gold requires 2,725
litres/hour for a throughput of 4 tons of solids, down to
very fine gold (<100) requiring 454 litres/hour for a
throughput of 0.9 tons, and for the finest gold 114
litres/hour for 0.5 tons of solids.
Once the pressurized water is added, the stirrer
blades are able to begin to rotate how fast a rotation is
unclear. The blades are simple metal bars welded at
intervals along a central solid metal bar that acts as the
drive axle turned by a 110-volt A.C. electric motor
mounted above the tank. The device is innovative in
slurrifying by rotary stirring. The gold and other heavy
particles spiral down, while the lights spiral upward. This
seems to be in thixotropic sludge-like slurry.
After several minutes of operation, the barren tailings
are bled through the tank wall via drain taps at two levels.
Then the tank is refilled and the process repeated over
and over again until an ultra-rich concentrate is
achieved. A concentration ratio as large as 2000:1 is
possible and the concentrate is removed from the bottom
of the tank via a concentrate tap as a batch discharge.
Continuous operation is possible with automatic feeders.

PYRAMID E-TANK

(drawing: Robin Grayson based on advert by the manufacturer)

The Pyramid E-tank was invented in the early 1990s


by Pyramid Industries of California and marketed as the
Pyramid Rotary Jig. Manufacture ceased and an advert is
the sole source of data, but it seems to be an elaboration
of the Heavy Mineral Separator invented by Laurence H.
Konvalin of California, patented in 1983 (US #4,389,309).
The Pyramid E-tank lacks jig screen, jig bed, ragging,
hutch chamber or vertical jig motion. The advert stresses
it differs from hutch jigs and diaphragm jigs. Rather the
invention belongs to a family of gravitation devices termed
elutriated sludge tanks (E-tanks) that seem particularly
suited to recovering very fine gold [28].
The Pyramid Rotary Jig is here termed the Pyramid
E-tank. Model #T50 consists of a circular tank tapering
from 22-inch diameter at the top to 18-inch diameter at
the bottom. The taper is said to be significant.

Figure 124.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Pyramid E-tank seems to have enjoyed a brief
period of moderate interest from recreational miners in
North America but then swiftly vanished into obscurity. It
is unclear if any such devices are still in use in spite of
their clear potential for fine gold recovery.

GOLD RECOVERY BY PYRAMID E-TANK (Pyramid rotary jig) generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Pyramid E-tank based on claims of the manufacturers advertisement. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Lashleys ASAT E-tower 1980s research in New Mexico

An early elutriation tower was invented by Lewis


Jennings of New York and patented in 1849 (US #8,410).
Today elutriation towers use a rising column of water
and typically use a teeter (hindered settling) for recovery.
However there are many types of E-tower and a
systematic classification is long overdue.
Around 1968 the United States Bureau of Mines
began a Heavy Metals Program and awarded a research
contract to the Minerals Industry Research Laboratory
(MIRL) of the University of Alaska, to test and improve the
recovery rate of -100 screen mesh gold in the Alaskan
placer deposits. MIRL built a lab scale E-tower and ran
hundreds of successful tests on placer material, and much
of the findings were published [109,110].
In the late 1980s ASAT continued the research and
built ASAT towers of several sizes (1-inch, 2-inch and 4inch) for lab tests, de-sliming clean-ups and full-scale
production [111].
Walter Lashley of ASAT invented a superior form of
elutriation tower (E-tower) in the 1980s that attracted
considerable attention for its ability to recover fine gold.
During the early 1990s an environmental mining
equipment R&D group took over the testing on the Etowers from Walter Lashley and did considerable field
tests and is reported to have made vast improvements on
ASATs original design. Over 120 units were installed on
several mining projects in the USA and Mexico and
reported to have worked very well.
An advanced form of ASAT E-tower is capable of
recovering <5 gold in a controlled environment in a lab,
and can recover 50% of <10 in field experiments which
is significantly better than most other recovery devices.
Variants of E-towers relevant to simple recovery of
fine placer gold include the Gold Funnel of Rodney
Charles Christensen of California patented in 1997 (US
#5,692,620).

Figure 94.

Operation
Clean water is introduced into a 1-inch, 2-inch or 4inch diameter column either near its base or part-way up,
at a controlled rate as determined by experiments.
Rising up inside the column, the water enters a
teeter zone characterised by hindered settling.
Finely screened concentrate (e.g. <0.2mm) is
spooned into the tower from above and falls through the
rising water down as far as the teeter zone.
Extremely dense particles such as gold fall through
the teeter zone to accumulate in the bottom of the device
as a lag deposit to await batch discharge
Fairly dense particles accumulate as a hovering
fluidised mass (teeter bed) in the teeter zone. The
continuous arrival of new particles from above into the
teeter zone causes particles to become increasingly
crowded and then only hindered settling can occur
The hindered settling means that dense only dense
particles can get to the base of the teeter bed, and in
doing so they eject upwards less dense particles.
As a result the teeter bed becomes vertically
stratified with the densest particles at its base overlain by
lighter particles
The lighter particles are vulnerable to ejection with
the rising water as tailings whereas the heavier particles
are protected from scouring away by the carpet of lighter
particles resting upon them.
After processing many spoonfuls of material, the
enriched gold concentrate is siphoned off from the device.

Adoption by placer gold miners


E-towers became popular for a while among placer
gold companies and recreational miners in North America
but currently there seems to be neither manufacturers nor
R&D interest, and awareness among miners is very low.

GOLD RECOVERY BY ASATs E-TOWER

Recovery of placer gold from black sand concentrate by Lashleys ASAT E-tower, according to diverse reports. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Osterbergs E-tower 1980s research in California

Operation
Clean water is introduced into a 4-inch diameter
column near its base, at 2 gallons/minute. Once inside,
the water passes through a distributor in a sequence
designed to create a non-turbulent up-flow:

Figure 95.

Screened concentrate is spooned into the tower from


above. The water rises with enough velocity to nonturbulently fluidise the concentrate yet without ejecting
particles with the overflow of wash water.
The upwelling water must decelerate for black sand
to hover as a fluidised bed, the deceleration being due to
the rising non-turbulent plumes of wash water have more
width once free of the flow distributor. Photos posted by
Megan Rose (Gold_Tutor) [112] suggest the device is not
a teetered bed settler as hindered settling seems minor.
The patent suggests the fluidised bed be stirred
gently at the start to encourage gold to fall to the bottom.
The upper portion of the fluidised bed is deemed to
be depleted of gold and is siphoned off as tailings.
The dense gold particles remain behind and more
concentrate is spooned into the top of the column.
After processing many spoonfuls of material, the
enriched gold concentrate is siphoned off from the device.

OSTERBERGs E-TOWER

Siphoning of tailings. (adapted by Robin Grayson from the patent)

Osterbergs E-tower was invented by Daniel Osterberg


of California, patented in 1984 (US #4,451,359), and
marketed as the Quick Gold Separator.
The device causes black sand to fluidise and particles
to hover. For hovering, the water velocity has to slacken
upwards impossible in a cylinder is of uniform diameter.
Slackening is by the water escaping from the constricted
space in the flow distributor. If a teetered bed E-tower
then hovering is accompanied by hindered settling in the
teetering fluidised bed, displacing lighter particles upward.
The author suggests that Osterbergs device is a
multiple E-tower with many rising columns jetting upward,
each decelerating once free of the flow distributor.
Osterbergs E-tower seems capable of achieving high
percentage fine gold recovery and merits testing.

Figure 96.

through a perforated plate secured to a bottom ring; then


through a disc of felted, fibrous synthetic polymer; then
through a screen with openings so fine that upward flow is
substantially unaffected in its lateral uniformity; and finally
through a coarse screen.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Osterbergs E-tower gained some popularity in North
America among recreational gold miners but production
eventually ceased in spite of the clear potential of the
device. The device is undergoing technical evaluation by
Megan Rose (Gold_Tutor) and details are posted on the
Colorado Prospectors Forum [112].

GOLD RECOVERY BY OSTERBERGs E-TOWER

Recovery of placer gold from black sand concentrate by Osterbergs E-tower, tentatively based on diverse reports. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Reflux classifier 2000s research in Australia

Operation

Figure 149.

This account is conjectural, as the reflux classifier has


yet to be tested with fine gold. The device will process
feed up to 5mm size. Intuitively feed would be screened
into fractions (e.g. >1mm, 1-2.5mm and 2.5-5mm) each
directed to a different reflux classifier. In practice a reflux
classifier is most advantageous for the <1mm fraction.
Feed is introduced towards the top of the E-tower
and begins to fall through the water column. This is
opposed by the up welling of injected fluidisation water
and a wobbling teetered mass of fluidised particles
results, only the densest and heaviest particles reaching
the bottom as final concentrate. The rising column of
water lifts the finest particles (including very fine gold)
and up well between the inclined plates of the lamella.
In the inclined section, the trajectories of the densest
fine particles fail to clear the top of the plates and so
these particles collide with the plates. The ensuing friction
slows the dense fine particles and they slide down the
plates back into the E-tower. The plates are inclined at
about 70 degrees shallow enough to ensure dense
particles hit the plates, yet steep enough to ensure
particles slide down it [199].
Other particles fail to settle and continue upwards to
escape as tailings.
To ensure fine gold will settle yet quartz remain in
suspension the ratio of plate length to plate-plate gap is
as great as 200:1 (aspect ratio) [195,197], far more than
the 40:1 used to separate coal from mineral matter.

REFLUX CLASSIFIER

Generalised layout of a modern reflux classifier (drawing: Robin


Grayson, redrawn from article by Zhou et al 2006 [195].)

The modern reflux classifier was invented by Kevin


Galvin of New South Wales who applied for an Australian
patent in 2000 (application 09/890,487) and was awarded
a USA patent in 2004 (US 6,814,241). Commercialisation
is by Ludowici Mineral Processing Equipment Pty Ltd
www.ludomin.com/products/reflux_classifier.htm.
The modern reflux classifier follows innovations such
as the 'Method and apparatus for cleaning sand or grading
sand' patented in 1947 by A.B. Morris (US #2,426,839).
A reflux classifier is a combination of E-tower and
lamella settler. More than one set of lamella is possible,
but a set of lamella caps the E-tower as an inclined
section for best results [194-199]. This inhibit heavy
particles escaping with the overflow water, enabling fine
particles to be removed or classified in a more concentrated
form" and is more tolerance of feed fluctuations.

Figure 150.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The modern reflux classifier may prove to have major
applications for recovering fine placer gold for artisanal
gold miners, recreational miners and placer companies.

HYPOTHETICAL GOLD RECOVERY BY REFLUX CLASSIFIER

Hypothetical recovery of gold by the reflux classifier based on work by Zhou and colleagues [195]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Ecologic E-tower 2000s research in New Zealand

Operation

Figure 151.

A trowel-full of pay gravel is put on the static simple


screen that sits on top of the conical device. The device
can process up to 2m3/hour of easy-to-dig pay gravel, less
so if clayey.
Water is supplied by the innovative pedal-powered
Ecologics water pump patented worldwide in 2006 (WO
#2006071127). About 100 litres of water are re-circulated
until it becomes too contaminated. Both pump and
concentrator can use water that is clayey or silty.
The material on the screen is swashed from below by
agitated water and the fines fall though the screen.
Washed oversize remains on the screen and is checked for
nuggets then discarded. Black sand and gold fall to the
bottom of the cone, in spite of the turbulent up-flow,
while fine light particles are swept out.
Water is introduced violently from the bottom of the
device. Rather than a delicately balanced teeter, this is an
up-welling mass of energetic water pumped in pulses via a
flexible plastic pipe from Ecologics pedal-powered water
pump. The pulsing action keeps the water in the cone
agitated and causes it to continuously spill over the rim of
the top of the cone.
The device is stopped to gather the concentrate
settled in the bottom the cone, by flushing out with a little
water. It is then upgraded by panning or other means.
The inventor considers coarse gold recovery is 95%
and fine gold recovery 80-90%. In some field tests only
0.2% of the gold reported to the tailings. Generalised test
results have been published in South Africa [200].

ECOLOGIC CONCENTRATOR

Oblique views of Ecologics Gold Concentrator showing the


simple screen (photo: Ecologics Ltd www.ecologics.co.nz)

The Ecologic concentrator is an innovative type of


elutriation tower (E-tower) recently developed by
Ecologics Ltd of New Zealand (www.ecologics.co.nz).
Marketed as the Ecologic gold concentrator, the
device is a remarkable catch-all able to catch all shapes
and sizes of gold particles, large and small. This is
technically challenging, for the high-energy Newtonian
setting regime needed to catch nuggets and eject large
quartz is also capable of flushing out fine gold and flat
gold with the tailings.

Figure 152.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Ecologic gold concentrator is marketed
worldwide to artisanal placer gold miners and interest is
being shown by some recreational miners.

GOLD RECOVERY BY ECOLOGIC E-TOWER

Recovery of placer gold by the Ecologic gold concentrator based on manufacturers information. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Vismans compound water cyclone 1970s research in the Yukon

Operation

Figure 57.

Feed is passed through a fine mesh screen (e.g. 13mm), then pumped as slurry into a CWC at a controlled
rate. The slurry pressure induces the slurry to slam
against the internal wall of the cyclone, and spin
vigorously while subjected to high g forces (e.g. 40-50 g).
A gold particles residence time in a CWC is a mere
second [72] before being ejected in the underflow. It is
unclear how separation is achieved so rapidly.
The densest particles, fine and coarse, are
continuously discharged as concentrate from the base of
the CWC with the underflow.
The lightest particles are continuously discharged
from the top of the CWC with the overflow. Unfortunately
the Alaska tests did not produce a high concentration
ratio, and therefore the compound water cyclone can be
inserted into a wash-plant as a useful but non-essential
stage, rather than replacing say a sluice, jig or centrifuge.
Results of tests are variable, and it is concluded by
the author that as yet in spite of considerable research
the theoretical basis for CWC is not firmly established and
this is an impediment to developing a device that
consistently produces good results in terms of fine gold
recovery and concentration ratio.

VISMANs COMPOUND WATER CYCLONE

Cross-section of Vismans compound water cyclone (CWC). Dense


particles report to the UNDERFLOW, light particles report to the
OVERFLOW. (drawing: Robin Grayson from US patent #3,353,673)

Vismans compound water cyclone (CWC) was


invented by Jan Visman of Alberta and patented in 1965
(US #3,353,673) and reissued in 1967 (US Re#26,720).
Research on the ability of compound water cyclones
to recover placer gold began in the Yukon in the 1970s
[70] and continued in the 1980s in British Columbia [71]
and Alaska [11,56,72,73].
CWCs were developed to maximise concentration by
particle density. They are of squat shape due to their
wide-angled cones, and internally have long vortex
finders. CWCs are potentially excellent gold recovery
devices by virtue of low cost, ease of operation, and no
moving parts. Instead it uses the energy of pumped
inflowing slurry guided by the internal shape of the
device to achieve centrifugal concentration.

Figure 58.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Experiments on placer gold recovery by CWCs have
been conducted from the early 1970s to recent times in
North America (British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska) and
Soviet Union [74]
In spite of early success in recovering placer gold,
R&D on compound water cyclones did not produce fully
reliable CWCs for placer gold mines. Manufacture has
ceased in the west, although they may be still being made
in the Russian Federation.

GOLD RECOVERY BY COMPOUND WATER CYCLONES Alaska tests

Recovery of placer gold by CWCs in tests in Alaska by the Minerals Industry Research Laboratory [56,72,73]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Bartles crossbelt 1970s research in Cornwall

Operation
The feed consist of 15-35% solids that have been
finely screened, ideally 150. The slurry is fine enough to
be termed slime.
Slurry is fed to the device at a rate of about 500 kilos
per hour of solids. The slurry is introduced via a feed box
to about half the length of the central ridge of the belt.
Heavies settle on the belt and remain on it, moving
along with the belt, the belt travelling forward at a rate of
3-8mm per second. The moving belt passes through a
cleaning zone where middlings are washed off the belt.
The heavies remain on the belt to be discharged over
the roller when the belt starts to turn upside down.
The Bartles crossbelt is particularly effective for
recovering material from 20 to 150 and consistently

outperforms conventional fine sands and slimes tables

Figure 61.

[61]. The orbital shear is closely controlled and adjusted


to optimise recovery.
Lights fail to settle on the belt due to the action of
the orbital shear and so flow off the sides of the belt,
made possible by the sides of the belt gently sloping
sideward at 1.5 to 3.
The belt is much wider than conventional tables and
this allows a greater spreading area for valuable products,
therefore allowing distinct cuts to be made between the
gold concentrate and the middlings.

BARTLES CROSSBELT

Layout simplified from the patent. (drawing: Robin Grayson).

The Bartles crossbelt is a vanner invented by Richard


Owen Burt of Cornwall and patented in the UK and then in
1977 in the United States (US #4,060,482), and assigned
to Bartles (Carn Brea) Ltd of Cornwall.
The Bartles crossbelt consists of a 2.44m wide
endless PVC belt that passes over a pair of rollers, one
being the drive roller. A unique feature of the belt is its
central longitudinal ridge from which the belt slopes
slightly to its sides.
An orbital shaking motion of 250-400 rpm is imparted
to the moving belt by a rotating weight, made possible by
the belt assembly being freely suspended by four wires
from a supporting frame. The orbital shaking motion is
induced by an out-of-balance rotating drive shaft driven
by an infinitely variable D.C. electric motor.

Figure 62.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Bartles crossbelt was intended primarily for
hardrock mills and tin recovery, and sold worldwide. The
author is unaware of it having ever being applied to
recovery of very fine gold, although it has potential. The
invention is an alternative to a shaking table but
manufacture ceased a decade ago.

GOLD RECOVERY BY BARTLES CROSSBELT

Gold recovery by Bartles crossbelt, according to Silva 1986 [61]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Lemmons vanner 1980s research in the Yukon

Operation

Figure 109.

A good example of the operation of a vanner in


recovering placer gold is of the home-made belt
concentrator devised by C.W. Ammen [158].
The device is a smooth rubber belt moving uphill at
a rather slow pace. The belt is of extremely smooth white
rubber belting from a food machinery manufacturer. The
unit has a hand-held water hose allowing the operator to
vary the water pressure, volume and direction. The belt is
driven by a gear-reducer motor with an autotransformer,
giving a range of speeds. Strictly speaking, to be classed
as a vanner then belt should be vibrating but it is unclear
if the motor vibrates the belt significantly or not.
As the belt travels upward, the material ...is sifted

VANNER

A vanner is a vibrating endless belt moving upslope taking


heavies with it to discharge at the top end as valuable
concentrate. Light particles pour off the bottom roller as tailings.
(drawing: Robin Grayson).

onto the belt about midway between top and bottom. At


this point, a fine water spray is played on the belt, so that
you have a downward flow of water as the material moves
upward. The gangue washes down while the gold particles
stick to the belt with great tenacity - especially when the
gold appears in the form of flat particles (platelets). This

Lemmons vanner was invented by Norvel Lemmons


of Arkansas and patented in 1989 (US #4,826,018). Tests
on Liard River placers in the Yukon achieved recoveries
consistently above 95% and some approached 99% for
placer gold of 20-250. However it is unclear if Lemmons
vanner was commercialised, but it merits further study.
Experiments to recover placer gold with other types
of vanner were made in Alaska [157] and elsewhere but
none were successfully commercialised. Meriting
investigation is that gold particles grip tenaciously to
certain synthetic surfaces due to electrostatic charges.
A gently inclined endless belt can recover gold. If the
belt is driven upslope and slurry poured on it, then the
slurry will flow down the belt to topple off as tailings over
the end roller. Meanwhile dense particles such as gold will
cling to the belt by friction and be hauled with the belt to
the top roller where they topple into a concentrate bin.
Vanners are a simple but marked improvement, by
introducing some gentle vibration to the slowly moving
belt and this generally enhances gold recovery.

Figure 110.

comment is intriguing as it suggests that Ammens belt


may be more disposed to recover flat gold than is possible
with most other devices.
Ammens belt proved was effective in recovering
99.99% of fine gold that was put as tracer in sand fed
to the device.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The author is unaware of vanners or belt
concentrators being used by company-scale placer gold
miners at present. Such devices are used by artisanal gold
miners in South America and perhaps elsewhere, notably
gold recovery from milled hardrock ore.

GOLD RECOVERY BY LEMMONs VANNER Lizard River tests, Yukon

Recovery of placer gold by Lemmons vanner, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Younges horizontal centrifuge 1980s research in British Columbia

Operation

Figure 97.

Pay gravel is introduced into the slightly raised feed


end. The pay gravel is pre-washed by intense focussed
spray bars in the feed hopper, but only a little water is
used and no water is added in the device itself. The
horizontal centrifuge needs a 50:50 mix of solids and
water, a major advantage over other types of wash-plant.
The slurry falls on the floor of the spinning cylinder,
and is lifted up the wall by the rising longitudinal riffles.
The increasing tilt of the riffles in their curved ascent
causes the water and lighter particles to cascade back
down to the floor. The heavies remain pinned against the
wall of the spinning cylinder by enhanced g forces.
The compartments between the longitudinal riffles fill
with solids and the ejected water flows into the next
compartment. This flow "shears over the longitudinal

YOUNGEs HORIZONTAL CENTRIFUGE

Younges horizontal centrifuge in an innovative wash-plant by


Roger Wagner. (photo: Leonard Leeper - www.golddredger.com)

riffles and in doing so forms a vortex area between


adjacent longitudinal riffles" and, "this vortex keeps
particles of low specific gravity in suspension and they are
ultimately carried along through a succession of annular
compartments... and so are ejected as tailings.

Younges horizontal centrifuge was invented by Earl


G. Younge of Langley in British Columbia for which he was
granted patents in Canada in 1981 and 1983 (CA
#1,110,206 and #1,153,336) and similar patents in the
USA in 1981 and 1982 (US #4,265,743 and #4,347,130)
entitled Method and Apparatus for Extraction of Gold
From Placer Gravel and Placer Mineral Concentrator and
Process.
In this account the device is termed a horizontal
centrifuge to clarify its distinctive character a spinning
cylinder with its interior wall equipped with two sets of
riffles one set of longitudinal riffles running its entire
length, and at right angles to them a second set of riffles
forming annular rings around the wall.
The simplest horizontal centrifuge is a scrubbercentrifuge a scrubber rotating so fast the material is not
only scrubbed but also spun so fast it attains a significant
degree of density classification. Some scrubbers may
unwittingly be centrifuges.

Figure 98.

The cylinder has a high rotation speed and so the


diameter of the cylinder can be rather small:

5ft long 16-inch diameter cylinder, with five 1.25-inch high


longitudinal riffles and three 1.375-inch high annular riffles,
rotates at 140-170 rpm and processes 8 tons/hour (4m3);
7.5ft long 20-inch diameter cylinder, with six 1.75-inch high
longitudinal riffles and four 2-inch high annular riffles, rotates
at 128 rpm and processes 20 tons/hour (10m3).

Adoption by placer gold miners


Younges horizontal centrifuge is occasionally seen at
placer gold mines in North America but does not seem to
have gained wide acceptance, presumably due to lack of
awareness of its considerable advantages regarding fine
gold recovery and low water usage.

GOLD RECOVERY BY YOUNGES HORIZONTAL CENTRIFUGE

Recovery of placer gold by Younges horizontal centrifuge, according to the original patent. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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ItomakTM bowl 1990s research in Novosibirsk

Operation

Figure 129.

The smaller ItomakTM models (KG-0.1 and KG-1.0)


are for upgrading. Concentrate screened at <2mm is fed
manually into the hopper above the centrifuge. Water is
added via a hand-held spray to create slurry that flows
down a slurry pipe to discharge close to the bottom of the
inside of the bowl. Here the slurry collides with a raised
discharge plate that has six oblique tangential extensions
to help fling the solids to reach the base of the riffled wall
of the centrifuge. The rotor rotates at 1,250 rpm in model
KG-01 and 700 rpm in the somewhat larger model KG-1.0.
Injection of fluidisation water helps prevent packing of the
riffles.
The smaller ItomakTM models (KG-0.1 and KG-1.0)
are distinctive and probably unique amongst centrifugal
bowl concentrators in that the bowl is tilted out of the
vertical and the centrifuge therefore spins around an
inclined axis of rotation.
The larger ItomakTM models are designed for the final
stage of a wash-plant. Depending on the model they can
processing 2-15m3 of solids. Slurry screened at <3mm is
fed via a slurry pipe to discharge at the far wall of the
spinning bowl. The bowl rotates in the horizontal plane,
again differing from most western bowls. The rotor rotates
at 500-650 rpm to slam the slurry against the wall of the
bowl. Injection of fluidisation water helps prevent packing.
ItomakTM bowls, large and small, are stopped for
batch discharge of concentrate.

ITOMAKTM BOWL

The smallest ItomakTM concentrator, model KG 0.1, at the placer


gold mine of Polymet Polata Ltd at Sharin Gol in Mongolia. The
top cover is removed to display the tilted riffled bowl. (photo:
Robin Grayson)

The ItomakTM bowl is a novel centrifugal concentrator


developed by SMA ITOMAK [184,185,186], a company
spun
out
of
a
Novosibirsk
scientific
centre:
www.itomak.com.
The bowl is riffled and spins tilted in smaller models
and horizontally with the larger models, unlike western bowl
centrifuges KnelsonTM, FalconTM, Knudsen, NeffcoTM,
GoldkatchaTM etc whose bowls spin round a vertical axis.
The larger ItomakTM bowls resembles the Chinese Yunxi
and SLS bowls that spin round a horizontal axis.
The horizontal attitude has some advantages, such
as the rotary mechanism being above the water when at
rest.

Figure 130.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Itomaks have been used in placer mining since 1996,
and are installed in Western Siberia, the Urals, in YakutyaSakha, Buriatia, Hakasya, Mining Altai, Krasnoyarsk,
Khabarovsk edge of the Magadan and Amur areas, and also
Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mongolia and South Africa.

GOLD RECOVERY BY ITOMAKTM BOWL Novosibirsk tests

Recovery of placer gold by Itomak centrifuge bowl, based on information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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FalconTM SB bowl 1990s research in British Columbia

Operation

Figure 127.

The feed is screened at 2-6mm and fed as slurry


from above via a slurry pipe that discharges near the
bottom of the bowl where it is flung by an impeller
towards the wall. Rotation is very fast to achieve 50 to
300g and this slams the concentrate against the wall and
induces density stratification of the slurry.
Upon rising up the outwardly sloping wall, the
stratified slurry passed over a concentrate bed fluidised
from behind by back-pressure water. The fluidised bed
enables the Falcon SB to process and retain particles in
the concentrate bed in preference to lighter minerals that
are ejected as continuously discharging tailings.
The Falcon SB achieves a concentration ratio of
1,000 or more and so the volume of concentrate is low.
Periodically the feed is stopped to permit the
concentrate to be rinsed out of the bowl as a batch
discharge. A typical operating cycle is 2 to 4 hours.
Recently Falcons have been awarded a patent for
continuous discharge (US #6,796,934).

FALCONTM SB BOWL

Looking down a Falcon SB bowl, showing the smooth lower


separation area overlain by a riffled upper separation area.
(photo: Falcon Concentrators Inc www.concentrators.net)

The FalconTM Superbowl (SB) was invented by Steve


McAlister to complement the original FalconTM B bowl. The
new SB bowl was tested on a placer gold deposit in British
Columbia and patented in 1995 (US #5,462,513)
[125,153]. The floor of the Superbowl has an impeller,
and the lower two-thirds of the wall are a smooth
migration zone. However the upper third of the wall
bears horizontal riffles with pores for water injection in the
intervening grooves, acting as a retention zone. This is
based on the elutriated centrifugal bowl patented 50 years
before by Arnold Nesbitt McNicol in Australia (AU
#17487/34 and AU #22055/35).
Recovery of fine gold by the Falcon and Knelson
bowls are somewhat similar [125,134,140, 142,145,180183].

Adoption by placer gold miners


Falcon Superbowls are occasionally used in washplants in placer gold operations:

Crescent Mining, Guyana Falcon SB250;


Sunshine Fields Corp, Philippines Falcon SB250;
Promotora Minera Salemex SA de CV, Mexico Falcon SB750;
Umico Ltd, Lukarasi Project, Tanzania Falcon SB750;
Nolan Gold Mine, Alaska Falcon SB2500 in1 recovery;
Garraway Resources, Guyana Falcon SB2500; and
Apollo Gold, Venezuela Falcon SB2500.

Falcon Superbowls are occasionally used to recover


gold as a by-product of sand and gravel mining:

Figure 128.

Teichert Aggregates, California Falcon SB2500 cleaning jig


tails, plus a Falcon SB750 cleaning table tails; and
Montezuma Aggregates, USA Falcon SB2500 in automated
1 recovery, plus an SB750.

GOLD RECOVERY BY FALCONTM SB BOWL based on recovery of tungsten tracer

Recovery by FalconTM Super Bowl, according to lab experiments with tungsten tracer [140]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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FalconTM C bowl 1980s research in British Columbia

Operation

Figure 107.

The feed is screened at say 2mm and fed either dry


or as slurry from above via a feed pipe that delivers the
feed in an impeller zone near the bottom of the bowl.
Here the feed is flung tangentially to the foot of the wall
by the high apparent gravity of the spinning bowl plus the
action of the impeller. The impeller reduces the energy
needed to rotate the bowl and helps to drive the slurry.
Rotation is very fast to attain 20 to 300g [152].
The feed is driven by the high apparent gravity up
the lower part of the centrifuge is gently conical, tapering
outwards at 8-14, and termed the migration zone.
Within this zone, the flowing film becomes highly stratified
with the gold against the wall and the lighter particles and
liquid forming a superficial layer.
Rising up the outwardly tapering wall of the
migration zone, the flowing film enters the cylindrical
upper part of the centrifuge termed the retention zone.
Gold arriving in the retention zone displace lighter
particles that are liberated into the jacket-like discharge
chamber to be ejected as tailings.
Since 1990, the device is fitted with an AutoPAC that
controls the rpm of the rotor and feed valve and
automates a 90-minute cycle time interrupted by a mere
30-40 seconds for automatic water flushing of concentrate
down the hollow drive shaft.
The percentage recovery of very fine gold is high, but
the concentration ratio is low. Therefore the concentrate is
not rich enough for smelting and the device is best used
as a pre-concentrator and for upgrading tailings.

FALCONTM C BOWL

Generalised view of a FalconTM C bowl, modified from the patent.


(drawing: Robin Grayson)

The FalconTM C bowl is the original Falcon invented


by Steve McAlister after noting fine gold in the sand/slime
stream of gravel mines in British Columbia. A prototype
was tested in 1981. By 1986 the first commercial FalconTM
was operational and patented in 1989 (US #4,824,431)
[152-155]. Although largely eclipsed by later versions,
experiments continue to deepen understanding of the
device [156] www.concentrators.net.
The FalconTM C bowl has a very smooth inner wall. It
differs fundamentally radically from the KnelsonTM C bowl
by NOT having riffles or elutriation water and so lacks
pores and has no water jacket. Rather than trapping gold
in a fluidised bed maintained by water injection, the
FalconTM C bowl uses high apparent gravity to induce
density stratification in a thin flowing film.

Figure 108.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Falcon C bowl was originally designed to recover
placer gold, but has been superseded by the Falcon SB
bowl in placer gold operations.

GOLD RECOVERY BY FALCONTM C BOWL based on recovery of gold tracer

Recovery by FalconTM C bowl, according to lab experiments with gold tracer, and users claims. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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KnelsonTM bowl 1980s research in British Columbia

Operation
Gold is recovered in an inner bowl in a centrifugal
field with an apparent gravitational field of 60g. By
injecting pressurised water into the inner bowl maintains a
fluidised bed of black sand into which gold particles can
burrow. Black sand is dislodged to make room. Basic
models have batch discharge (manual or automatic), the
operation being stopped to permit the flushing out of
concentrate. In larger models, discharge may be
continuous, enabling uninterrupted operation.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The KnelsonTM bowl did not become widely popular in
placer gold recovery due to cost and need to pre-screen:

Figure 105.

KNELSONTM BOWL

A 3-inch KnelsonTM concentrator. with ceramic bowl ready to


insert. (photo: KnelsonTM Inc www.knelsongravitysolutions.com)

The KnelsonTM bowl is a centrifugal bowl inside a


water jacket, elutriated water being injected under
pressure via holes to prevent packing of the black sand
trapped in the riffles of the bowl wall.
The KnelsonTM bowl was invented by Bryan Knelson
of British Columbia in the 1970s [129,130]. He patented
the device in 1986 (US #4,608,040) as an advance on the
elutriated centrifugal bowl patented 50 years before by
Arnold Nesbitt McNicol in Australia (AU #17487/34 and AU
#22055/35). Bryan Knelson continued innovating, gaining
more patents in 1988 (US #4,776,833) and 1991
(US#4,983,156). Later patents cover refinements, notably
continuous discharge (US#5,338,254) and mercury
recovery (US #5,368,541). The KnelsonTM bowl became a
popular subject for theses [131-137] and tests [138-148].

lab testing Bajo Cauca and El Bagre placers in Antioquia,


Columbia. Coarse gold recovery had been 40-70% with sluice
boxes and jigs. Fine gold recovery had been low. Tests with
3-inch and 7.5-inch KnelsonTM bowls yielded recoveries of 9899.9% of fine placer gold [148].
lab testing Ikh Alt Mine in Zaamar Goldfield, Mongolia. Pay
gravels sampled in the harsh winter and trucked to
Ulaanbaatar to determine grade using a 3-inch KnelsonTM
bowl fitted with a vibrating sluice and spray bar [149].
pilot mining Toson Terrace Mine in Zaamar Goldfield,
Mongolia. KnelsonTM concentrators proved very effective in
test mining [150], being superior to Russian-style sluices.
Setbacks occurred in 1997-99 with the failure of Java Gold
Inc at this mine using KnelsonTM concentrators due to
management not technology [151].
full-scale mining Howley Mine of Metana Minerals NL in
Western Australia. Initial test recovery was disappointing with
a trommel-jig washing plant. KnelsonTM bowls increased gold
recovery by 35%, permitting reworking of a million m3 of jig
tailings despite high clay content. [129].
full-scale mining Akrokeri-Ashanti Ltd (AAGM) in Ghana.
Partial success, but mine closed due to various factors,
including lack of mobility of the wash-plants.

GOLD RECOVERY BY KNELSONTM BOWL based on recovery of tungsten tracer


Recovery of placer gold by KnelsonTM bowl, according to lab experiments with tungsten tracer [140]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)
Figure 106.

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Yunxi bowl 1960-1990s research in Yunnan

centrifugation IFFC [125-127]. The bowls rotation is


adjustable from 83 g to a phenomenal 1,500 g.
The fast rotation creates a stratified bed of moving
particles that climbs the wall to the rim where they are
dislodged by a high pressure water jet. The SLS bowl has
six models with capacities from 110 kilos to 12 tons/hour,
all designed to recover fine and ultrafine cassiterite
particles as a continuous discharge.
Adjusting the operating parameters enables high
recovery of 1 cassiterite [125], and commercial tests
showed 55-60% recovery of cassiterite from <10 tailings
with an upgrading ratio of 10 [127]. Using the SL-600
Separator on cassiterite slimes, the most suitable size
range for cassiterite recovery was 3-37 m [125, 127].

Operation
Figure 103.

The author has not seen a description of how the


Yunxi bowl operates.
Tin ore is first screened to <74 and a suitable slurry
prepared. The slurry is gravity fed into the rotating Yunxi
bowl and the heavies are slammed on the inside wall of
the centrifuge. The amount of enhanced gravity is 102 g,
51g and 30g for bowls of diameters of 40cm, 80cm and
1.6m respectively.
The heavies remain on the bowl wall as concentrate
to await batch discharge, while the lighter particles are
ejected as a continuous discharge of tailings.
After a period, the device is stopped for batch
discharge of concentrate. The stopping, discharging and
restarting are automatically controlled.

YUNXI BOWL

Generalised arrangement of an 80cm diameter Yunxi bowl, after


Y. Sun [123,124]. (drawing: Robin Grayson)

The Yunxi bowl was developed by the Yunnan Tin


Corporation in the early 1960s in China for recovering
extremely fine cassiterite (SnO2) [124].
For decades unknown in the west, over 20 years the
Yunxi bowl was the worlds best centrifuge for recovering
fine minerals, until the advent of the KnelsonTM bowl,
FalconTM bowls, MozleyTM MGS bowl and KelseyTM
centrifugal jig. For three decades the Yunxi bowl remained
radically different from other bowl centrifuges until the
birth of the Russian ItomakTM bowl.
The Yunxi bowl is a short centrifuge that rotates on a
horizontal axis. The bowl is near-parallel sided, sloping 35 to its discharge end. A limitation is the low capacity,
e.g. about 30 tons/day for an 80cm bowl [124].
In the late 1980s the Yunxi bowl spawned the SLtype separator (SLS) with injection flowing film

Figure 104.

Adoption by placer gold miners


About 1,000 Yunxi bowls were installed in tin,
tungsten and iron ore plants in China [128]. However the
author has found no evidence of either the Yunxi bowl or
its successor the SLS bowl being used in gold recovery.

CASSITERITE RECOVERY BY YUNXI BOWL China tests

Recovery of cassiterite by the Yunxi bowl and its successor the SLS bowl according to Jie Xiao [125]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Neffco bowl 1970s research in Utah

Operation
Feed material is screened at 0.3 to 1.5mm, then
preferably to <100 Tyler mesh as larger solids may block
the groove. If feed is dry it must first be thoroughly
wetted, for instance in a longish water trough.
The Neffco bowl runs full of water as it spins. Slurry
is fed down the central tube to the bottom of the bowl
and works its way to the sidewall. The bowl and its spiral
groove drag the water and induce the water to spin. It
Figure 59.

looks like a reverse auger as the groove appears to auger


down to the bottom of the bowl (source:

NEFFCO BOWL

PopandSonminers). The drag of the water may aid


heavies to move to the sidewall and lights to spiral up.
The slurry is continually swept down the spiral
groove. As the slurry spirals down, the heavies end up at
the bottom of the groove while the lighter particles escape
upwards and out the top. The end result is that a high
percentage of heavies are driven to the bottom of the
bowl. Periodically the bowl is stopped for batch discharge.
The rpm is fixed, and control is exerted by altering
the water input (source: Zooka). The water level is
maintained 1.5 inches below the rim and at the rim, with
less water for finer cuts.
The 24-inch Neffco bowl will run 1-8 tons per hour of
solids, uses a hp motor, rotates twice per second, uses
125 gallons per minute of water and is claimed to be able
to capture 500-mesh gold (25).

Examining the inside of a Neffco bowl, showing the spiral riffles.


(photo: courtesy of DanfromNY on the Alaska Gold Forum)

The Neffco bowl was invented by Larry Neff of Utah.


He began experimenting with centrifugal recovery of flour
gold in 1976 and by 1980 had invented the novel Neffco
bowl it has a single long riffle groove that spirals
downwards. Other bowls have grooves in rings. The
Neffco bowl is made by Neffco Mining, of Salt Lake City,
Utah www.neffcomining.com.
The maker claims the Neffco bowl, when part of a
complete wash-plant, recovers better than 95% of the of
the flour gold in most materials we have tested.
Anecdotal evidence indicates the Neffco bowl is capable of
recovering fine gold. But there are reports of very rounded
gold particles sometimes flowing (rolling?) straight out of
the unit although these can be caught before or
afterwards with a standard sluice (source: Zooka of AGF).
To achieve capacity, often 4 or more bowls are run in
parallel, and presumably because of the escape of large
high sphericity gold a long length of expanded metal
sluice is used to scavenge the tailings. The Neffco bowl
achieves a concentration ratio of 2,000 to 1.
To clean concentrates, material is run through two
bowls in series, and the second captures about 5% extra.

Figure 60.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Neffco bowl is fairly popular among placer gold
miners in North America, mainly for cleaning concentrate.
A few mines use Neffco bowls in parallel as the core of
their primary wash-plants, plus a sluice to catch the round
gold that escapes. Some recreational miners in Alaska use
Neffco bowls aboard small offshore dredges.

GOLD RECOVERY BY NEFFCO BOWL generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Neffco bowl, according to manufacturers information and comments by users. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Gilkey bowl Alaska tests

Operation

Figure 37.

First, mercury is poured into the stationary bowl, a


little less than the capacity of the mercury channel in the
side-wall. The bowl is then rotated to drive the mercury
into the channel.
Next the screened feed slurry is introduced, and the
feed density has to be strictly controlled at 20% solids
[59,60]. The feed slurry is introduced under a small head
of gravity via a central feed delivery pipe, pouring into the
middle of the bottom of the bowl. From here the slurry is
forced to slam into the sidewall. To minimise flouring, and
loss of mercury, the slurry first hits a striking surface at
the bottom of the sidewall. Then the slurry flows up the
inner wall of the spinning bowl to cross the rotating
mercury held in the recess of the channel.
The tailings are ejected from the spinning rim of the
bowl as a continuous discharge and the risk of mercury
being accidentally lost is high so the tailings discharge is
immediately intercepted by a mercury trap.
The gold particles in the film of slurry crossing the
mercury are forced to amalgamate. After a period the feed
is shut off and then the power shut off to slowly bring the
spinning bowl to rest. The gold is then recovered from the
mercury by squeezing through a fine cloth to retain the
Au-Hg amalgam as a paste, and the amalgam is then
subjected to firing and retorting to separate and recover
the gold and recycle the mercury.

GILKEY BOWL

A 6-inch Gilkey bowl, showing the flow of the slurry feed and
redirection by the striking surface to minimise flouring of
mercury. (redrawn from James Anderson [59] by Robin Grayson)

The Gilkey bowl was invented by Walter W. Gilkey of


Washington State during the 1960s, and only advanced
versions patented. The basic version is a symmetrical steel
bowl with open mouth upwards, dynamically balanced
around a drive spindle below the bowl. Part of the inner
wall is a broad cylindrical channel that holds the mercury.
The Gilkey bowl was one of the last of the forced
amalgamators that had been popular for over a century
to recover fine, flat and flour gold by adding mercury to
a spinning bowl to centrifugally press gold into mercury.
Many forced amalgamators were invented and patented,
such as the McKlellar amalgamator (US #1,003,118 of
1911); the Taber amalgamator (US #1,457,560 of 1923);
and the Lorentsen machine (US #1,866,111 of 1932).

Figure 38.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Gilkey bowl and other centrifugal forced
amalgamators were popular on large gold dredges in North
America. The Gilkey bowl was a focus of research of the
Mineral Industry Research Laboratory in Alaska [59,60] in
the 1970s but manufacture then ceased. A few Gilkey bowls
may still be in use in parts of Africa and South America.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GILKEY BOWL Alaska tests

The Gilkey bowl achieves 60% gold recovery at the 1st pass, 90% at the 2nd stage and 99% at the 3rd stage. [60]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Knudsen bowl Alaska tests

Operation
Pre-screened feed enters from above via a slurry pipe
that discharges in the centre of the spinning bowl about 1inch from the base. The slurry is flung sideward to slam
against the spinning wall. The climbing film of slurry is
impeded by concentric ribs of tough rubber riffles.
Dense particles slam in the grooves between the
riffles; Light particles climb the riffles to escape as tailings.
Lab tests by Mark Anthony [57,58] show the inventors
instructions to be in error. With <3/8 inch gravel the rocks

could not be washed out of the riffles with a high-pressure


hose and had to be removed by pulling them out of the
rubber riffles with a pair of pliers. This was solved by
Figure 35.

limiting the feed to <1/8th inch. The rotation speed has to


be at least 80 rpm or the bowl started dumping large

KNUDSEN BOWL

Knudsen Bowl showing the central feed pipe, rubber riffles and 3
struts that enable the position of each blade to be adjusted.
(photo: Steve Gaber of the Alaska Gold Forum)

quantities of slurry directly onto the ground and drive


mechanism. Optimum recovery of gold >65 Tyler mesh

The Knudsen bowl was invented by George Knudsen


of California and patented in 1942 (US #2,272,675). It
eclipsed the first rubber-riffled centrifuge the Ainlay bowl
invented by Thomas Ainlay of Nebraska and patented in
1928 and 1932 (US #1,658,874 and #1,853,249).
The Knudsen bowl has particular advantages:

(about >0.2mm) is at 105 rpm with 68 gallons/minute of


water and a pulp density of 5-20% solids.
Tests by Dredger of Alaska Gold Forum in New
South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand suggest
Knudsen bowls lose about 20% gold, mainly invisible fine
gold whose recovery can be much improved by:

bowl of non-magnetizable material e.g. aluminium:


resistant to wear, and easily, completely and quickly cleaned;
tough rubber riffles as liner, easily and quickly removed; and
separation helped by agitation resulting from the wobbling

action of the bowl and by the kneading action of the soft


flexible rubber ribs of the riffle member.

The Knudsen bowl is typically 12 to 36-inch in


diameter and mounted on a vertical drive shaft. The wall
slopes outward to create a gradient of g forces increasing
upwards, inducing the slurry to climb the wall.
The need for fine pre-screening makes the Knudsen
bowl unsuitable for wash-plants, but it has merit for
upgrading if two or even three bowls are put in series.

Figure 36.

using a binocular microscope to detect and monitor fine gold;


screening the feed at minus 250 mesh (e.g. a second pass);
adding 2 variable speed v-belt pulleys, with lockable lever
speed control, enabling precise adjustment of the bowls rpm;
ensuring a person watches the feed rate;
attaching a good small test sluice to the outlet of the bowl;
checking tailings with a x40 to x80 binocular microscope; and
cleaning the bowl regularly.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Knudsen bowl was used worldwide, notably in
North America and New Zealand, and copycats in Africa
and South America. The Knudsen survives being rugged,
easy to use, cheap, durable and ease of adding mercury.

GOLD RECOVERY BY KNUDSEN BOWL Alaska tests

The Knudsen bowl recovers 100% of gold >0.2mm, plummeting to 70% for 100 gold, according to Alaska tests [57,58]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Kelsey centrifugal jig 1980s research in Australia

Operation
The slurry feed is 25-40% solids and enters a
chamber consisting of a circular screen mounted vertically,
plus a particle bed. The chamber rotates at 30-45 rpm to
create a force of up to 50g. Water injected into the inner
chamber subjects the slurry to a jig-like pulsation force to
alternately expand and compress the particle bed. This
stimulates denser minerals to move towards the bed and
so be collected after passing through the screen into an
inner chamber and discharged via small holes. Lighter
particles overflow the chamber as tailings.
According to the maker, the ability to change the
Figure 101.

apparent gravitational field, up to 50 times gravity, results


in a major improvement in separation efficiency,
particularly of very fine minerals, by significantly reducing
the effect of forces that hinder fine particle separation.

KELSEY CENTRIFUGAL JIG

A model J1800 Kelsey centrifugal jig. (photo: courtesy of Dale


Henderson of makers Roche Mining www.rochemt.com.au)

The Kelsey centrifugal jig was invented by


Christopher G. Kelsey of Australia and patented in
Australia in 1985 (PH9037, PG0122) and 1990 in the USA
(US #4,898,666). The first commercial sale was of a labsized machine in 1989. Geo Logics Inc developed the
device, and automatic screen cleaning was introduced in
1999. In 2001 Geo Logics was bought by Roche Mining
who continues to make the jig (www.rochemt.com.au).
The Kelsey centrifugal jig maximises its effectiveness
and efficiency by combining the pulsation principle of a jig
with the high apparent gravitational field of a centrifuge.
The main models and operating variables are:

Hindered settling is accentuated by the centrifugal


force together with the pulsing of the ragging bed. The
pulsing is via pulse arms connected to pads to work
against the jigs flexible diaphragm. Water contained

within the concentrate hutches presses against the


diaphragm, at a frequency and amplitude set by the
operator, thus dilating the ragging bed. The level of
dilation impacts on the amount of material able to pass to
concentrate. The pulsed shockwaves have two effects:

J200 KCJ lab test unit, 15-100 kg/hour of solids;


J1300 MkII KCJ smallest commercial unit, 2-30 tons/hour;
J1800 KCJ largest commercial unit, 5-60 tons/hour.
feed-related variables feed type; feed density; feed rate;
feed size; and density difference between minerals.
jig set-up variables screen aperture size; ragging type,
ragging density, ragging size distribution and depth.
jig control variables rotational speed (induced gravity field);
pulsing frequency; pulse amplitude (distance travelled during
each pulse stroke); and rate of adding hutch water.

Figure 102.

dilating the ragging bed to allow minerals to enter it; and


accentuating differences in acceleration between particles of
different density. Separation of particles of similar size and
shape but different density slows at their terminal velocity.
The shockwaves repeatedly stop the particles, limiting their
time at terminal velocity to maintain a high rate of separation.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Kelsey centrifugal jig is used to recover hardrock
gold, platinum, cassiterite, monazite sand, coal etc [117122]. It performed well with fine flat placer gold from
offshore Alaska [122] but is not seen in placer gold mines.

GOLD RECOVERY BY KELSEY CENTRIFUGAL JIG

Recovery of placer gold by Kelsey centrifugal jig, according to the patent and test on Alaska Gulf placers [122]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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GekkoTM in-line pressure jig 1990s research in Australia

Operation

Figure 125.

The maximum feed for a standard IPJ is 25mm


remarkably large. The slurry is pumped along a feed pipe
into the top of the jig. Entering the distributor, the slurry
is turned around upwards to spread out in the
deceleration chamber. The jig is pressurised, sealed, and
completely filled with water and slurry. The lack of a water
surface is a deterrent to flour gold floating away.
The spreading motion, and unimpeded large circular
area available for it, causes the slurry to slow to a velocity
incapable of holding so much suspended solids. So the
heavies drop towards the jig bed and are trapped in the
separation interface on the top of the jig bed. The jig bed
is pulsed by a central drive shaft driven by the central
drive ram at the units base. The pulsing achieves episodic
quicksand (thixotropic) conditions.
During the dilation phase, gold separation occurs by
density, plus segregation by differences in size and shape.
In the suction phase, heavies are drawn through the
ragging and screen to fall into the hutch drawn off by a
spigot as a continuous discharge. Nuggets stay on the jig
screen awaiting batch discharge. The ragging is a 25mm
thick carpet of lead shot covering the 2-3mm holes of the
jig screen. The IPJ 1500 uses about 200 kilos of lead shot
and Gekko has begun making synthetic ragging.

GEKKOTM IN-LINE PRESSURE JIG

A skid-mounted IPJ at a placer gold mine in Australia. (photo:


courtesy of Nigel Grigg of Gekko www.gekkos.com)

The GekkoTM in-line pressure jig (IPJ) was invented


by Alexander Gray of Victoria who was awarded patents in
1995 in Australia (AU #W095/26,232) and 2000 in the
USA (US #6,079,567). The innovation was intended for
recovery of low-grade high volume placer gold; later for
hard rock grinding circuits [174-178].
A slurry pump drives the entire system. The
negligible pressure drop ensures a 15-metre head to
pump tailings up to a settling area, and allows jigs to be
arranged in series if so desired. The IPJ has a moveable,
rather than fixed, jig screen. The operator can dictate the
height the jig bed rises and falls; and all particles are
raised to the same height regardless of particle density.
Jigging is a sawtooth pulse rather than simple pulse, and
the operator can select the upstroke and downstroke
speeds independently, as well as adjust the stroke
duration via electronic control of the hydraulic drive.
The jig is very compact, treating up to five times
more for same area of jig screen. The trommel or shaking
screen can be low as the slurry is lifted to the jig by slurry
pump. Water demand is lower than for most other jigs.

Figure 126.

Adoption by placer gold miners


Many IPJs are in hardrock gold mills. Placer applications
include tin (New South Wales) and diamonds onshore and
offshore in Namibia and South Africa. About 20 are
installed at placer gold mines, in Australia, New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Guinea and Peru.

GOLD RECOVERY BY GEKKOTM IN-LINE PRESSURE JIG - generalised

Recovery of placer gold by Gekko in-line pressure jig, based on information from the manufacturer. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Cleaveland jig and IHC jig 1980s research in USA and Holland

Operation

Figure 92.

Feed is screened to <12.5mm and pumped as slurry


to the narrow end of the primary jig bed of the IHC jig
plant. The trapezoidal shape of the jig bed widens towards
the tailings end to counteract and minimise the unwanted
acceleration in cross-flow typical of a normal type of jig.
The trapezoidal primary jigs can be clustered in a
compact 12-cell star with a single central feed a major
advantage aboard large dredges. In land-based placer
gold mining, the optimum configurations are 1-cell, 2-cell
and 3-cell trapezoidal jigs otherwise the wash-plant is too
bulky and trucking placer becomes excessive [106]. When
integrated into a skid-mounted wash-plant the units are
semi-mobile [107,108].
The jig screen of the primary jig produces tailings of
<6mm that report as slurry to a second stage, a small
secondary jig who jig screen in turn produces tailings of
<4mm that are recycled back to the primary jig. A third
stage is sometimes added to the series.
Coarse gold and nuggets remain on the jig screens
for recovery as a batch discharge at clean-up, while small
gold is produced as a continuous discharge with black
sand via spigots at the bottom of the hutches of the jigs.

IHC JIG PLANT

An IHC jig plant recovering fine gold in Sumatra, Indonesia.


(photo: IHC Holland www.ihcholland.com)

The Cleaveland jig was invented by Norman


Cleaveland of New Mexico and patented in 1982 (US
#4,310,413). The jig is an innovative circular jig intended
for large tin dredges, a compact star-pattern of jigs with
the slurry introduced at the centre [93].
IHC Holland of the Netherlands and Alluvial Dredges
Ltd (ADL) of Scotland and Australia made Cleaveland-type
jigs. IHC made vast research into jigs led by the Mineral
Technological Institute (MTI) in the Netherlands [94-97].
IHC developed the Cleaveland jig further as a circular
array of trapezoidal jigs with sawtooth jigging motion, a
motion now emulated in most jigs. The short-lived fierce
upward stroke prevents the loss of fine gold by
suppressing the phase of hindered settling is suppressed.
IHC marketed its jigs for large tin dredges. After the tin
price collapsed, IHC marketed the IHC trapezoidal jig for
recovery of placer gold, hardrock gold and diamonds on
dredges, pontoons and dry land [98-105].

Figure 93.

Adoption by placer gold miners


IHC trapezoidal jigs were installed on the Bema
Dredge, a famous bucket-line gold dredge off the coast of
Alaska. Several winterised gold bucket-line dredges with
IHC jigs operated in NE China. IHC jig-plants of 1, 2 and
3-modules were installed in placer gold mines in Alaska,
Peru, Columbia, Ghana, Indonesia, Mongolia and
elsewhere, gaining a reputation for recovering >90% of
moderately fine gold. Failure to gain wider popularity is
attributed to the high price, bulkiness, limited mobility,
and low concentration ratio.

GOLD RECOVERY BY IHC TRAPEZOIDAL JIGS DERIVED FROM CLEAVELAND CIRCULAR JIGS

Placer gold recovery extrapolated from recovery of placer tin, as claimed in IHC technical literature. [96] (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Pan-American duplex jigs Alaska tests

Operation

Figure 33.

The upstroke of the rocker arm lifts the lower hutch


and compresses the diaphragm, forcing water up into the
upper hutch and up through the static screen to lift in the
ragging and its blanket of black sand, so fluidising the
sand into a thixotropic (loose) state.
Less dense particles are flung up and swept away
with the tailings. Dense particles remain. Gold particles
burrow in the black sand down into the heavy ragging.
The downstroke extends the diaphragm, sucking
water down from the upper hutch and down through the
static screen to suck the ragging and its blanket of black
sand, compressing the black sand into a dilatant (hardpacked) state. Small gold is sucked down into the upper
hutch to fall and settle on the bottom of the lower hutch
for continuous discharge with black sand via a spigot.
Gold particles too big to pass though the jig screen
remain stranded on the screen awaiting recovery when
jigging stops for cleaning the screen a batch discharge.
The upstroke of the lower hutch pushes more water
through the screen than replaced in the downstroke
compensated by inlets injecting water in the upper hutch.

PAN-AM DUPLEX JIGS

A duplex of Pan-American jigs. (photo: courtesy of the


manufacturer, Delta Mining & Manufacturing Co of Nashville,
Tennessee - www.graymfg.com/mineral.html)

In the early 1930s the engineers of the Bulolo Gold


Dredging Company designed the Pan-American placer jig
(Pan-Am jig) that is compact and tolerates wave motion in
small dredge ponds or even open sea. By the late 1930s
the Pan-Am jig was widely used on dredges for recovery
of alluvial cassiterite (SnO2 tin ore), gold and diamonds.
The Pan-Am jig is a balanced pair of jig cells known
as a duplex jig, saving 50% of energy in jigging. Each cell
is underlain by a conical hutch of two parts joined by an
annular diaphragm of flexible rubber to allow up-anddown oscillation of the lower hutch. Standard 42inch x
42inch cells (about 1m x 1m) have seven variables [56]:

Adoption by placer gold miners


Pan-Am duplex jigs are fairly popular in many
regions, and can be seen in action in Alaska, Yukon, South
America, and Africa but are rare in Russia and Mongolia
Pan-Am duplex jigs are made in many regions, e.g.:
.

amount of ragging typically 425lbs (193 kilos) per cell;


type of ragging typically 3/16 inch (4.75mm) steel shot;
feed pulp density 30% to 60% (w/w);
feed rate 20 yd3 to 30yd3 per hour (15 to 23m3 per hour);
hutch water added 2.3 to 4.5m3 per hour per jig cell;
stroke length inch to 1 inch (19 to 38mm); and
stroke frequency 120 to 200 cycles per minute.

Figure 34.

USA IRD of Carson City, Nevada


www.ird-jigs.com
USA Delta Mining & Mnfr Co of Nashville, Tennessee
www.graymfg.com/mineral.html
USA Goldfield Engineering Co, of Lindon, Utah
www.goldfieldeng.com
Thailand Dove Engineering
www.dovemining.com
China China National Gold Corporation (CNGC)
www.chinagold.org.placer.html

GOLD RECOVERY BY PAN-AMERICAN DUPLEX JIGS

Good recovery of gold by Pan-Am duplex jigs during tests by MIRL in Alaska [56]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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tincture of iodine leaching 2000s research in Japan

Iodine leaching had been widely used to recover gold


in the late 1800s and early 1900s, then dwindled with the
rise in popularity of cyanide leaching and mercury
amalgamation and the high cost of iodine. Advances prior
to 2000 are dealt with in Section 4.
In the last 25 years much has been claimed about
secret lixiviant formulations, and methods of precipitating
gold from streams and seawater most is quackery.
In contrast, the tincture method of iodine leaching is
fully explained, repeatable and verifiable, as invented in
2006 Hiroyasu Murakami and Y. Nakao of the National
Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
(AIST) of Japan: A trial of extracting gold from stream
sediment and high Au/Ag ore using halogen-containing
organic system [40].
To dissolve the gold, a halogen-containing organic
system (HOS) is used, composed of iodine I2, sodium
iodide NaI and ethanol C2H5OH, a mixture closely akin to
tincture of iodine. Tincture of iodine is usually 10%
elemental iodine in ethanol, and a component of
emergency survival kits to disinfect wounds and to sanitize
surface water for drinking.
To precipitate the gold from solution, ascorbic acid
C6H8O6 is added a chemical familiar as vitamin C.
Iodine being expensive, it is important to regenerate
the tincture of iodine. Hydrogen peroxide H2O2 is added to
oxidise the iodide I- back to iodine I2. The regenerated
tincture of iodine can once again dissolve gold.
The Japanese researchers recovered 79.9% gold
from a stream sediment sample, and 84% gold from a
hardrock sample in the Kitakami mountains of northern
Japan.

Figure 141.

Operation
Tincture of iodine is obtained from a lab supplier.
If placer ore, the pay gravel is finely screened, the
coarse fraction being subjected to conventional
gravitational separation, the fine fraction being subjected
to leaching. If hardrock, the ore is milled very finely
before being subjected to leaching
1st stage leaching gold into solution
The fine ore is added to a little water in a tank and
kept agitated by stirring. Tincture of iodine is stirred in,
and is dark brown due to the presence of I3- ions. These
are an effective oxidant and in the presence of I- ions
reacts to form the stable gold-iodine complex:
2Au + 3I3-  2[AuI4]- + ILab experiments show an hour is sufficient for the
tincture of iodine to leach most of the gold faster than
cyanide can. Then dissolution declines and full leaching of
gold from a saturated gold solution might take six hours.
2nd stage recovering gold from solution
To recover the dissolved gold from the pregnant
solution, ascorbic acid is added to reduce the iodine:
I2 J 2IThis reaction results in a deficiency in I3 causing the
tincture to lose its dark brown colour and become a poor
solvent. It is now possible to precipitate gold. Deposition
starts when the tank is diluted by about 70% water by
volume. The gold appears as colloidal gold and next as
fine-grained particles. The gold is removed by filtration.

Adoption by placer gold miners


It seems possible that tincture of iodine may become
popular among recreational and artisanal gold miners for
fine gold recovery.

GOLD RECOVERY BY TINCTURE OF IODINE LEACHING

Recovery of placer gold by tincture of iodine and vitamin C in tests by Hiroyasu Murakami and Y. Nakao [40]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

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Mozley MGS centrifuge 1980s research in Cornwall

Operation

Figure 99.

The feed requires fine screening. The exact degree of


screening is unclear, but seems to be about 0.5mm.
The screened feed is prepared as slurry with 25 to
35% solids. The slurry is piped into the MGS centrifuge via
a tube. The slurry is decelerated by a circular device that
spreads the slurry across the internal wall of the cylinder.
Within the cylinder, a stratifying mechanism separates the
denser particles from the lighter particles.
By lowering or steepening the angle of inclination
(tilt) of the centrifuge, the retention time of the slurry
can be increased or decreased accordingly, along with the
discharge rate of the concentrate. A differential scraper
mechanism enables a longer residence time for the slurry.
Additional cleaning water is added to assist the removal of
slimes and enrichment of the concentrate.
The Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator is
manufactured in 3 models:

MOZLEY MGS CENTRIFUGE

Schematic cutaway diagram of an Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity


Separator MGS. (diagram: courtesy of Ian Daniels of the
manufacturer Axsia Mozley Ltd - www.natcogroup.com)

The Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator was invented by


Richard Mozley of Cornwall and patented in 1990 (US
#4,964,845) after applying for a UK patent in 1986.
Today re-branded as the Axsia-Mozley MGS, the
device is manufactured by Axsia Mozley of Cornwall, part
of the NATCO Group of Houston USA.
The Axsia-Mozley MGS combines the high apparent
gravity of a centrifuge with the principle of a shaking table
[113-116]. The device is a gently inclined cylinder that
rotates to create an apparent gravitational field of 8g to
22g. The cylinder also pulsates along its shaft in the
manner of a shaking table. The cylinder is lined with a few
special riffles.
Key advantages of the Axsia-Mozley MGS are:

The larger MGS models have special features:

a proprietary gearbox drive that gives: improved reliability;


zero maintenance and sealed-for-life lubrication.
the MeGaSep has hydraulic fluid drive, remote power pack
and simple control technology.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator is being
used for the separation of ores of gold, tantalum, tin, zinc,
copper, silver, lead and coal. However, the author has not
seen any reports of the MGS being used in placer gold
recovery.

fine to ultra-fine separation (down to 2);


better capacity than some other ultra-fine separators;
efficient use of energy;
minimum maintenance or supervision; and
requires no chemicals or physical reagents.

Figure 100.

MGS C900 compact lab unit, 1 ton/hour of solids;


MGS C902 medium-capacity, 3 tons/hour of solids;
MGS MeGaSep large-capacity, 30 tons/hour of solids.

GOLD RECOVERY BY MOZLEY MGS CENTRIFUGE generalised

Recovery of gold by the Axsia-Mozley Multi-Gravity Separator, based on incomplete information [113-116]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

124

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ECO-MINEX INTERNATIONAL LTD


Last modified: April 19, 2010

World Placer Journal 2007, Volume 7, pages 66-161.


73:

www.mine.mn

Reflux classifier 2000s research in Australia

Operation

Figure 149.

This account is conjectural, as the reflux classifier has


yet to be tested with fine gold. The device will process
feed up to 5mm size. Intuitively feed would be screened
into fractions (e.g. >1mm, 1-2.5mm and 2.5-5mm) each
directed to a different reflux classifier. In practice a reflux
classifier is most advantageous for the <1mm fraction.
Feed is introduced towards the top of the E-tower
and begins to fall through the water column. This is
opposed by the up welling of injected fluidisation water
and a wobbling teetered mass of fluidised particles
results, only the densest and heaviest particles reaching
the bottom as final concentrate. The rising column of
water lifts the finest particles (including very fine gold)
and up well between the inclined plates of the lamella.
In the inclined section, the trajectories of the densest
fine particles fail to clear the top of the plates and so
these particles collide with the plates. The ensuing friction
slows the dense fine particles and they slide down the
plates back into the E-tower. The plates are inclined at
about 70 degrees shallow enough to ensure dense
particles hit the plates, yet steep enough to ensure
particles slide down it [199].
Other particles fail to settle and continue upwards to
escape as tailings.
To ensure fine gold will settle yet quartz remain in
suspension the ratio of plate length to plate-plate gap is
as great as 200:1 (aspect ratio) [195,197], far more than
the 40:1 used to separate coal from mineral matter.

REFLUX CLASSIFIER

Generalised layout of a modern reflux classifier (drawing: Robin


Grayson, redrawn from article by Zhou et al 2006 [195].)

The modern reflux classifier was invented by Kevin


Galvin of New South Wales who applied for an Australian
patent in 2000 (application 09/890,487) and was awarded
a USA patent in 2004 (US 6,814,241). Commercialisation
is by Ludowici Mineral Processing Equipment Pty Ltd
www.ludomin.com/products/reflux_classifier.htm.
The modern reflux classifier follows innovations such
as the 'Method and apparatus for cleaning sand or grading
sand' patented in 1947 by A.B. Morris (US #2,426,839).
A reflux classifier is a combination of E-tower and
lamella settler. More than one set of lamella is possible,
but a set of lamella caps the E-tower as an inclined
section for best results [194-199]. This inhibit heavy
particles escaping with the overflow water, enabling fine
particles to be removed or classified in a more concentrated
form" and is more tolerance of feed fluctuations.

Figure 150.

Adoption by placer gold miners


The modern reflux classifier may prove to have major
applications for recovering fine placer gold for artisanal
gold miners, recreational miners and placer companies.

HYPOTHETICAL GOLD RECOVERY BY REFLUX CLASSIFIER

Hypothetical recovery of gold by the reflux classifier based on work by Zhou and colleagues [195]. (compiler: Robin Grayson)

153