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Mining and mineral processing: gold

Introduction

Gold was discovered in South Africa in the late 1800's and since then has played a very important role in South Africa's history and economy . Its discovery brought many foreigners into South Africa, who were lured by the promises of wealth. They set up small mining villages, which later grew into larger settlements, towns and cities. One of the first of these settlements was the beginning of present-day Johannesburg, also known as 'Egoli' or 'Place of Gold'.

Most of South Africa's gold is concentrated in the 'Golden Arc', which stretches from Johannesburg to Welkom. Geologists believe that, millions of years ago, this area was a massive inland lake. Rivers feeding into this lake brought sand, silt, pebbles and fine particles of gold and deposited them over a long period of time. Eventually these deposits accumulated and became compacted to form gold-bearing sedimentary rock or gold reefs . It is because of this complex, but unique, set of circumstances that South Africa's gold deposits are so concentrated in that area. In other countries like Zimbabwe, gold occurs in smaller 'pockets', which are scattered over a much greater area.

Mining the gold

A number of different techniques can be used to mine gold. The three most common methods in South Africa are panning , open cast and shaft mining.

  1. Panning Panning for gold is a manual technique that is used to sort gold from other sediments. Wide, shallow pans are filled with sand and gravel (often from river beds) that may contain gold. Water is added and the pans are shaken so that the gold is sorted from the rock and other materials. Because gold is much more dense, it settles to the bottom of the pan. Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga, was the first site for gold panning in South Africa.
  2. Open cast mining This is a form of surface mining. Surface layers of rock and sediments are removed so that the deeper gold rich layers can be reached. This type of mining is not suitable if the gold is buried very deep below the surface.
  3. Shaft mining South Africa's thin but extensive gold reefs slope at an angle underneath the ground, and this means that some deposits are very deep and often difficult to reach. Shaft mining is needed to reach the gold ore. After the initial drilling, blasting and equipping of a mine shaft, tunnels are built leading outwards from the main shaft so that the gold reef can be reached. Shaft mining is a dangerous operation, and roof supports are needed so that the rock does not collapse. There are also problems of the intense heat and high pressure below the surface which make shaft mining very complex, dangerous and expensive. A diagram illustrating open cast and shaft mining is shown in [link] .
    Diagram showing open cast and shaft mining

Processing the gold ore

For every ton of ore that is mined, only a very small amount of gold is extracted. A number of different methods can be used to separate gold from its ore, but one of the more common methods is called gold cyanidation .

In the process of gold cyanidation, the ore is crushed and then cyanide (CN - ) solution is added so that the gold particles are chemically dissolved from the ore. In this step of the process, gold is oxidised. Zinc dust is then added to the cyanide solution. The zinc takes the place of the gold, so that the gold is precipitated out of the solution. This process is shown in [link] .

Questions & Answers

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Alliieyza Reply
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crippah
what is a normal force
tumelo Reply
normal force is the line that is perpendicular to the surface
Thabo
normal force is the force exerted to an object by the surface , perpendicular to the surface
Fhatani
what is the formular of energy
Wilka Reply
E=f\q
Wonder
E=hf
Mondli
doesnt it like depend on the type of energy
Benjamin
what does (1s2 2s2 and 2p6) mean?
Ryan Reply
What are the differences between pd and emf?
Santosh Reply
How to calculate magnitude of Friction force
Tanaka Reply
in Newton
Obakeng
yeh
Obakeng
in newton
Fikile
Onother Question?
crippah
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Fikile
First of all in wat Grade ae u..?
crippah
grde 11
Fikile
Oka nd hw is the properties of a substance afected by the intermoleculaer forces...
crippah
what is newton
Ndamulelo Reply
look for the x components n y components then after y add the x components separate n y separate then u use the Pythagoras theorem 2 find the resultand
Abigail Reply
Thank you very much
Luvuyo
how do I find 🔍 the critical angle
Ntandokazi
angle of incident and angle of reflection must always approach normal line thats where u will see 90° which is critical point
Tumelo
how to calculate the resultant net force
Luvuyo Reply
how do I determine polar forces
Thandekile Reply
chemical formula for oxygen
Nqobile Reply
O
Josh
how do I draw free body diagram?
Anathi Reply
how to calculate molar mass
Robby
molar mass =(element/compound) remember the subscript of an element must be multiplied. eg.get molar mass of H20 Molar mass(H20)=(1×2+16) =18 grams per mol
Ntandokazi
What is an industrial reaction
Siyanda Reply
how do we calculate workdone
Baraka Reply
work done = force applied × displacement
Chakravarthy
how to calculate tension
Noluthando Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 11 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11241/1.2
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