Microanalysis study of Al-Amar rock and leaching behavior of its tailings for recovery of gold and silver
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Chemistry Department, College of Science, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia
Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute, P.O. Box 87, Helwan, Cairo, Egypt
Biotechnology Department, College of Science, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia
Ceramic Department, Natural Resources Division, National Research Center, Cairo, Egypt
Mohamed Mahmoud   

Chemistry Department, College of Science, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2018;54(2):527–537
Some Saudi gold ores, such as that at Al-Amar mine, suffer from low leaching efficiency using the toxic cyanidation process. Only about 60% of the gold and 26% of the silver in the feed ore can be extracted at 0.2% CN after 24 h and the rest percentages of these metals remained in leaching residues (tailings). These tailings contained 1.1 ppm Au and 4.3 ppm Ag. Reprocessing of tailings serves both for economic and environmental reasons. A petrography analysis of the mineral constituents indicated that the rock samples consisted primarily of sphalerite, chalcopyrite, pyrite and galena in decreasing order of abundance. An electron probe microanalysis quantitatively showed that gold and silver were finely distributed in the grain boundaries and within sphalerite, chalcopyrite, pyrite, and quartz. The dissemination of gold and silver in these hard minerals may be the main reason for their low recovery by cyanidation. Open air roasting of the tailings can release amounts of the disseminated gold and silver which can be extracted during leaching with the harmless thiosulfate ion S2O32–. After studying the different parameters, we found that the maximum possible extraction of gold and silver from the tailings roasted for 2 h at 400 °C reached about 50% at 0.2 M ammonium thiosulfate, 0.3 M ammonium hydroxide, solid–liquid ratio ½ for 24 h. These achievements represent a possible exploitation of the accumulated 1.65 million Mg tailing waste containing significant amounts of gold and silver valued at about $73 million.