The pretreatment of carbonaceous material in double refractory gold ores (DRGO) is necessary to decrease preg-robbing of gold and maximize gold recovery. DRGO contains of carbonaceous matter and gold grains encapsulated in sulfide minerals, which typically results in very poor gold recovery. However, there is growing interest in DRGO because some estimates show that it makes up about a third of the total available gold for production by mining. This can be achieved by chemical and biological techniques, however, the chemical techniques like flotation, surface passivation and chemical oxidation have received more extensive study and either have to be retooled or modified to be applied to the carbonaceous matter in the DRGO. In comparison, the biological techniques are relatively unknown with significant gaps in the knowledge about the bio-treatment mechanism, byproducts and avenues for scaling up like bioreactor design. This study reviews the enzymatic pretreatment of DRGO to facilitate gold recovery and minimize reagent consumption. It focuses on the potential for application of oxidative enzymes like lignin peroxidase, manganese peroxidase and laccase to pretreat carbonaceous matter in DRGO with or without an additional step of sulfide oxidation and addresses characterization of byproducts of the enzymatic decomposition. Further, potential bioreactor configurations for the enzymatic decomposition without direct contact of ore with microorganisms are considered, both in terms of understanding the mechanisms within the pretreatment and in terms of application.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
- Metals and Alloys
- Materials Chemistry