Electrochemical behavior of gold and its associated minerals in alkaline thiourea solutions
Electrochemical measurements were conducted to study the electrochemical behavior of gold (Au) and its commonly associated minerals in alkaline thiourea solutions. The results indicated that without addition of any stabilizer, selective dissolution of Au from stibnite and pyrite was only possible at relatively low thiourea concentrations. As Na2SiO3 was added, pyrite started to become active and an oxidation peak appeared; the oxidation peaks of arsenopyrite and chalcocite appeared earlier than that of Au. The chalcocite peak shifted in the positive direction and the peak current increased. Stibnite did not show an oxidation peak and its current was nearly zero. Adding Na2SiO3 favored the selective dissolution of Au when its minerals were associated with chalcocite and stibnite. At pH 12, the Au anode dissolution peak current increased with stabilizer concentration. At 0.38 and 0.42 V and for Na2SiO3 concentration below 0.09 M, the current density continuously increased with Na2SiO3 concentration. The Na2SiO3 concentration had to be adequate to stabilize thiourea. When the potential was higher than 0.42 V, the surface of the Au electrode started to passivate. With an additional increase in potential, the presence of Na2SiO3 could not stop the inevitable decomposition of thiourea.
Keywordsalkaline thiourea Au associated mineral Na2SiO3 electrochemical behavior
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The authors are grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51504031) and the innovation fund of the General Research Institute for Nonferrous Metals (No. 53319).
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