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Old 15 May 2013, 09:35 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Default Making Gold Green: New Non-Toxic Method for Mining Gold

Northwestern University scientists have struck gold in the laboratory. They have discovered an inexpensive and environmentally benign method that uses simple cornstarch -- instead of cyanide -- to isolate gold from raw materials in a selective manner.

This green method extracts gold from crude sources and leaves behind other metals that are often found mixed together with the crude gold. The new process also can be used to extract gold from consumer electronic waste.

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscent...ning-gold.html

Only at test-tube level right now, but with mankind's age-old obsession with gold, there should be a headlong rush to commercialize.
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Old 15 May 2013, 11:05 PM
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I don't know much about how raw gold is processed, but I have seen the aftermath of mining from my years in New Mexico and California, and I do hope this turns into a viable solution to the tons of toxic waste left behind from gold mining.

Of course, even something as benign as corn starch could become a problem when used in hugh guantities. I got a little lost reading the article, which wasn't written for the layman. Once the gold is refined, what is left besides the corn starch? does it separate the other metals in the ore as well as the gold? (Sorry if that question sounds dumb. I really would like to understand the process more.)
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Old 15 May 2013, 11:14 PM
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From the description, the 'needles' that are precipitated by the process are gold, potassium and bromine. I am not sure if the potassium and bromine come from the ore or not. Generally in the usual ores that require chemical separation (there are natural ores that are relatively pure, but as you can imagine, those are very limited or we would have gotten them already and/or gold would be cheap), there is a lot of stuff that is not gold, likely mostly silicon (in silicates, I should think), iron, uranium, and other metals. All that stuff would likely be left behind, no longer the massive rock hillsides they were, but crushed in the manner that currently happens.
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Old 16 May 2013, 01:11 AM
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This would replace cyanide in the gold leaching process, and replace it with a substance derived from corn starch, not corn starch itself. It does not say if this substance has been tested much for other characteristics.

The rocks would still need to be pulverized - in some cases the pulverized rock can be a significant source of toxins even without the cyanide.

This might be an improvement, but gold mining will still be a polluting and destructive endeavor.
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Old 16 May 2013, 03:08 PM
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If developed on an industrial scale, the runoff from this process would make the mostest funnest slag pit EVER!.
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Old 16 May 2013, 03:26 PM
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Unless a few of those needles slip through.
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