Specialty chemicals company Draslovka and Barrick Gold Corp. intend to roll out a global testing and implementation program for GlyCat, Draslovka’s proprietary glycine gold leaching product, at several mines. According to Draslovka, the technology can potentially unlock substantive savings and generate value for Barrick’s operations while improving their environmental footprint.
The Czech Republic-based company said its GlyCat technology enables substantive replacement of cyanide used in processing of gold ores with a non-toxic, food-grade reagent that is recyclable. Draslovka claims that, depending on the type of ore, using GlyCat in existing leaching circuits allows for a 20% to 80% reduction in cyanide usage while reducing or entirely eliminating cyanide detoxification requirements. According to the company, the process also results in higher recoveries in select ores, potentially achieving an average reduction in processing costs of 25%, rising to 50% for some more complex ores.
Barrick, reportedly the first major mining company to adopt the technology, will use it at the Bulyanhulu gold mine in Tanzania and several other Barrick operations. Testing programs at each site will quantify the operating cost savings from the reduction of cyanide usage, potential improvements in gold recovery, and lowering of cut-off grades, all of which will allow operations to treat ore types that may have previously been uneconomic, according to the two parties.
Simon Bottoms, mineral resource management and evaluation executive at Barrick, commented: “Rates of major gold and copper discoveries have been in steady decline over the last decade, which when combined with a rapidly evolving set of global challenges, is resulting in global supply challenges to meet the growing global demand for such critical metals. As a result, it is imperative that the industry takes the necessary steps to maximize the value from existing mines that are already operational or currently under development.
“At Barrick, optimizing the geometallurgical understanding of our orebodies from both economic as well as environmental aspects is a key aspect of both our evaluation process and operating philosophy.”
GlyCat comprises a dual-lixiviant system of glycine – a non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable amino acid commonly used as a food additive – and sodium cyanide. The company said GlyCat can leach gold as well as most of the nonferrous transition base metals, specifically copper but also nickel, cobalt and zinc. Glycine is commonly produced through the combination of formaldehyde and ammonia along with hydrogen cyanide, one of Draslovka’s primary products.
In February 2022 Draslovka acquired the Australian company Mining & Process Solutions (MPS), which owned glycine leaching technology IP through its products GlyLeach and GlyCat. The purchase of MPS followed two other purchases by Draslovka in 2021: the $520-million acquisition of Chemours’ mining solutions business and a $95-million agreement to acquire Sasol’s sodium cyanide business.