6th Wave Innovations Corp. recently introduced the IXOS nanotechnology bead for the gold mining industry. The company believes its molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) ion exchange resin can increase gold mining profits by about $100/oz in processing savings and extra gold recovered in direct comparison to activated carbon.

Each patent-pending IXOS bead is imprinted at the molecular level to attract gold and ignore the other elements in the leaching process. Unlike conventional ion exchange resins, 6th Wave said the IXOS resin has a long life (more than 50 loading/unloading cycles), and high capacity (about 30 g/kg) and selectivity for gold (more than 95%). Moreover, the capacity and selectivity does not degrade with successive cycles. The unloading (elution) process is simple, straightforward and inexpensive when compared to activated carbon. The beads require no activation step for reuse. The resin is supplied ready-to-use, with a range of particle sizes available to accommodate heap leach and resin-in-leach/pulp circuits.

“6th Wave’s resin technology has great potential,” said Susan Ritz, principal process engineer and president of Jack Rabbit Consulting. “It works well under very challenging conditions and appears to be more highly selective for gold than carbon. I can see it replacing carbon as the adsorbent of choice.”

According to 6th Wave, IXOS has consistently and thoroughly outperformed activated carbon and conventional ion-exchange resins in laboratory and field trials conducted over the past three years. These trials were done in partnership with some of the world’s largest gold mining companies under a wide variety of conditions, including high grade, low grade, and refractory (preg-robbing) ores. In the trials, IXOS also demonstrated a variety of advantages to activated carbon, including capacity, selectivity, elution time and temperature, adsorption efficiency, durability, and reuse. These advantages directly translate to lower costs and more gold recovered, the company said. Use of IXOS also requires fewer chemicals, reduces waste, has no toxic emissions, and uses less power — making it a “greener” technology.

“Working with our mining partners has allowed us to field-test the IXOS beads in harsh conditions that are impossible to synthesize,” said Dr. Jonathan Gluckman, chairman and CEO of 6th Wave. “We have clearly demonstrated that the beads work consistently and predictably, and display all of the positive attributes we have seen in the lab. We are confident that IXOS will substantially increase our customers’ profitability.”