Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 829–838 | Cite as

The mechanism of elution of gold cyanide from activated carbon

  • J. S. J. Van Deventer
  • P. F. Van Der Merwe


Numerous articles have appeared on the mechanism of the adsorption of gold cyanide onto activated carbon. In contrast, little information is available on the mechanism of elution of the adsorbed gold. It is the objective of this article to formulate such a mechanism on the basis of batch and column elution tests without analyzing adsorbed species on the carbon directly. The presence of spectator cations (M n+) enhances the formation of M n+{Au(CN) 2 } n ion pairs on the carbon, which in turn suppress the elution of gold cyanide. The dynamics of removal of these cations determine the horizontal position of the gold peak in an elution profile. When the concentration of cations in the eluant is high and no cyanide is present in the solution or on the carbon, very little desorption of gold is observed. The quantitative effect of the concentration of spectator cations on the equilibrium for desorption of aurocyanide can be estimated from the elution profiles for gold and cations. Free cyanide in the eluant, which causes some competitive adsorption of cyanide with aurocyanide, therefore plays a minor role at the elevated temperatures used in industry. A more important effect of cyanide is its reaction with functional groups on the carbon, the products of which passivate the surface for adsorption of aurocyanide, and thereby cyanide promotes the elution of aurocyanide. The degree of passivation, which is determined to a large extent by the temperature of pretreatment, also affects the elution of cations and the degradation/adsorption of cyanide itself. Reactivation of the carbon surface occurs when the adsorbed/decomposed cyanide is removed by the eluant. At high temperatures of pretreatment, such as used in practice, it is not necessary to include a reactivation term in the mathematical model for elution.


Cyanide Material Transaction Carbon Surface Eluant Pretreatment Step 
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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Material Society 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. J. Van Deventer
    • 1
  • P. F. Van Der Merwe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschRepublic of South Africa

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