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The Importance of Mineralogical Knowledge in the Sustainability of Artisanal Gold Mining: A Mid-South Peru Case

Departament d’Enginyeria Minera, Industrial i TIC, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya Barcelona Tech, Av. Bases de Manresa 61-63, 08242 Manresa, Barcelona, Spain
Alliance for Responsible Mining—ARM, Calle 32 B SUR, 44 A 61 Envigado, Colombia
Departament de Petrologia i Mineralogia Aplicada, Universitat de Barcelona, Carrer Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(6), 345;
Received: 8 April 2019 / Revised: 26 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 June 2019 / Published: 5 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining)
Mineralogy and gold processing techniques from several mining areas of the Nazca-Ocoña gold belt, Mid-South Peru, were investigated to assess the efficiency of gold extraction methods in relation to their mineralogy. The deposits from this belt are intrusion gold related to mineralization in quartz veins. Native gold occurs as micrometric grains encapsulated in pyrite and in minor amounts in other sulfides and quartz. Electrum is found mainly in fractures of pyrite and attains up to 35 wt. % Ag. In addition to these occurrences, gold tellurides also occur and they are abundant in San Luis. Gold processing is carried out by amalgamation with mercury and/or cyanidation. The comparison of the gold grade in the mineralizations and in the residual tailings indicates that a significant amount of gold is not recovered using the mercury amalgamation process and also, in the case of the gold recovery by cyanidation, except when cement was added to the cyanide solution. This was due to an increase in the pH that favours the dissolution of the gold matrix. In the cyanidation process carried out in tailings previously treated with mercury, part of the mercury retained in them is released to the atmosphere or to the cyanidation fluids. View Full-Text
Keywords: artisanal mining; Peru; gold; amalgamation; cyanidation artisanal mining; Peru; gold; amalgamation; cyanidation
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Alfonso, P.; Anticoi, H.; Yubero, T.; Bascompta, M.; Henao, L.; Garcia-Valles, M.; Palacios, S.; Yáñez, J. The Importance of Mineralogical Knowledge in the Sustainability of Artisanal Gold Mining: A Mid-South Peru Case. Minerals 2019, 9, 345.

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