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Minerals 2016, 6(3), 84;

Phytomining for Artisanal Gold Mine Tailings Management

Agriculture Faculty, University of Mataram, Jl. Pendidikan No. 37, Mataram 83127, Indonesia
Soil and Earth Sciences Group, Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 4474, New Zealand
Medical Faculty, University of Mataram, Jl. Pendidikan No. 37, Mataram 83127, Indonesia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: W. Scott Dunbar
Received: 28 June 2016 / Revised: 4 August 2016 / Accepted: 9 August 2016 / Published: 15 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnologies and Mining)
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Mine tailings are generally disposed of by artisanal and small scale gold miners in poorly constructed containment areas and this leads to environmental risk. Gold phytomining could be a possible option for tailings management at artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) locations where plants accumulate residual gold in their above ground biomass. The value of metal recovered from plants could offset some of the costs of environmental management. Getting gold into plants has been repeatedly demonstrated by many research groups; however, a simple working technology to get gold out of plants is less well described. A field experiment to assess the relevance of the technology to artisanal miners was conducted in Central Lombok, Indonesia between April and June 2015. Tobacco was planted in cyanidation tailings (1 mg/kg gold) and grown for 2.5 months before the entire plot area was irrigated with NaCN to induce metal uptake. Biomass was then harvested (100 kg), air dried, and ashed by miners in equipment currently used to ash activated carbon at the end of a cyanide leach circuit. Borax and silver as a collector metal were added to the tobacco ash and smelted at high temperature to extract metals from the ash. The mass of the final bullion (39 g) was greater than the mass of silver used as a collector (31 g), indicating recovery of metals from the biomass through the smelt process. The gold yield of this trial was low (1.2 mg/kg dry weight biomass concentration), indicating that considerable work must still be done to optimise valuable metal recovery by plants at the field scale. However, the described method to process the biomass was technically feasible, and represents a valid technique that artisanal and small-scale gold miners are willing to adopt if the economic case is good. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyanide tailings; plants; gold; artisanal and small scale gold mining; smelting cyanide tailings; plants; gold; artisanal and small scale gold mining; smelting

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Krisnayanti, B.D.; Anderson, C.W.; Sukartono, S.; Afandi, Y.; Suheri, H.; Ekawanti, A. Phytomining for Artisanal Gold Mine Tailings Management. Minerals 2016, 6, 84.

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