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Basic Provisions of the Process Licensing
What We Can Offer to You
Micron gold has always been a major challenge for many gold prospectors, whether they recognize it or not. Because it is so small, it might be present but you may not even know it. It takes extremely good panning techniques to capture it in a pan, and a high energy sluice will generally wash the micron gold out with the tailings, maybe even easier than washing out the fine black sand.
If you suspect you have micron gold, the first step is to look for it with a good 20X or 30X magnifier, looking for discrete, small particles of gold in the black sand. If you don't see it, you may still have it present as gold encapsulated in a thin layer of iron oxide or iron sulfide or any of the other ore components that are typically encountered, or as gold that is still too small to see. Perhaps a better way is to have an XRF test performed, which will also identify other metals present, including silver, lead, zinc, mercury, and the platinum group metals (assuming the XRF device is programmed for those additional metals). The platinum group metals can be very difficult to identify visually, because they will likely be in very small quantities and their physical appearance is very plain. Remember, if you don't specifically look for it, you will never know that you had it to start with. In the iodine leaching process, the platinum group metals will remain in the leaching solution, along with the base metals, making the recovery more practical, although it may be necessary to use professional PGM refiners.
There are many systems available to process micron gold, each with their strong points and their weaknesses. The mechanical processes like sluices and water tables tend to be very slow and require expensive equipment with very precise operating conditions, but the gold is immediately available and readily visible. Processes that use moving water, like the Blue Bowl and wheels, tend to be very slow and they require very carefully controlled flow rates and a very narrow range of classification. For all of these systems, the gold must be visible at some stage in order to recover it.
Essentially all of the processes, including mine, will demand that the starting materials have not been subjected to any process that would have already flushed the micron gold away with the tailings. The cyanide leaching process has been developed very successfully to recover much of the small gold, including micron gold, from low grade ore; however, such a process is totally unsatisfactory for a small scale miner because of the toxicity, the significant amount of equipment required, and the excessive controls over environmental release. There are now a good many jurisdictions that will not issue permits for new facilities that will use cyanide leaching, and, even if the permits are available, don't count on getting them quickly; there will be A LOT paperwork, and A LOT of money, and there is still no guarantee that you will get them.
There are other leaching processes available, with varying degrees of effectiveness, ease of use, cost, and different levels of safety. I believe that my iodine process can be attractive for many of the gold recovery applications that exist, whether it be beach sand, waste black sand, sluice tailings, raw ore, electronic waste, or scrap jewelry (including plated or filled jewelry). The chemistry is sophisticated (but simple for the end-user), uses readily available raw materials (most are over the counter, general purpose chemicals), the chemicals are generally considered to be very safe for people, animals, and crops, and the disposal of waste materials is not considered hazardous (although disposal of large amounts of anything is generally considered inappropriate at best, and illegal at worst). As a side benefit, the iodine leaching process can be used as a very simple, very quick method of determining the presence or absence of gold, even as a field test. However, the field test (because of the wide range of variables) is not a practical method for determining the exact, numerical quantity of gold in a particular sample and even a very small amount of gold will give the appearance of large quantities. With careful records of the amount of starting material, leaching to exhaustion of the gold, careful recovery of the gold, careful melting, and careful weighing, the gold recovery per ton of ore ( or better yet, recovery per pound or quart of starting material) can be determined very closely as a basic assay result. An assay estimate can be determined by simply washing the precipitated gold, drying it, and weighing it, against the amount of starting material. Keep in mind that, the larger the sample size, the more confidence you will have in the results, A typical fire assay has an extremely small sample size and an incredibly small bead of gold. The BlackSand2Gold process will handle any sample size you are able to handle in your facilities.
Many of the accounts of poor performance of iodine as a leaching agent for gold have contained significant inaccuracies as to the chemistry involved, giving rise to the notion that the process is much more complicated, or more dangerous than it really is, and that regeneration of the chemicals is too expensive to be economically attractive. The chemistry is, in fact, extremely sophisticated, to the point where only an experienced chemist would totally UNDERSTAND what is happening, but almost anyone should be able to USE the process effectively and safely. Also, the general statement that the raw materials are too expensive to make the process economical is quite often based on a poor understanding of how the iodine materials are recycled: the initial cost IS very high at about $20 per pound, but the regeneration cost is very low and the recovery rate is very high. The active leaching chemical is no more dangerous or toxic than tincture of iodine, which has been used for many years, and is still available for minor cuts and scrapes. For most users with a reasonable amount of gold in their ore, the cost of the chemicals is likely to be a very small portion of the economic impact. There are several parts of the process that involve considerable soaking time, and that soaking time has nothing to do with the size of the batch. The major aspects that will control the economic feasibility of a particular operation must be determined by the owner of the ore and are basically related to:
the quantity and, especially, the quality of the starting ore
the purchase cost, transportation cost of the starting ore, and disposal cost of the spent ore
the amount of time, effort, and resources the owner is willing to provide for extraction of the values (each ore will behave differently and will require slightly different processing)
the efficiency of the iodide recovery from the spent ore
the efficiency of the precipitation and the melting processes for the recovered gold (especially with high value materials, "every time you touch it, you lose some of it")
the available options for sale of the recovered gold (sale to a regular gold dealer might not be attractive due to the high purity and/or PGM content)
General advantages of the iodine leaching process, as developed by BlackSand2Gold:
The expensive chemical in the process (potassium iodide) is largely recoverable as sodium iodide.
All other chemicals used in the process are readily available, at low cost, from a grocery store, pharmacy, and/or hardware store.
Although being very irritating in its various forms, the leaching solution is not considered toxic or hazardous to humans or to animals. However, the active leaching solution is very aggressive (corrosive) to most metals, such as jewelry, tools, light fixtures, etc, and will stain most other surfaces, such as walls, ceilings, cloth, paper, and skin.
In household quantities, disposal of waste products is generally accepted by most sewer authorities.
Electrical power is not required for the leaching operation, for reactivation of the leaching solution, or for the precipitation of the gold. Electrical power for tools is desirable, such as lighting, a drill powered mixer, hot plate, magnetic stirrer, centrifuge, etc, most of which are NOT REQUIRED, but are very handy to have available.
The only water requirement is for dissolving the salts to make the leaching solution, for rinsing the spent ore for iodide recovery, and for washing the recovered gold.
Leaching and storage containers can be almost any readily available glass container or plastic container, including milk jugs, peanut butter jars, polyethylene, polypropylene, wide-mouth canisters, etc.
Leaching is very rapid, allowing its use as a field assay tool to determine presence or absence of gold in hours, rather than in days or weeks (field assay is not recommended to determine precise quantities of gold).
No expensive monitoring equipment is required to perform the full range of leaching, processing, and recovery operations. Essentially all operations can be monitored by unique color changes in the process.
Leaching can be easily accomplished in the field, thus avoiding transport of the ore back to a central processing location.
The leach solution can be customized to be strongly aggressive toward iron or mildly aggressive, depending on the user's needs and whether or not you NEED to be aggressive. In any case, iron in the form of black sand, is not a significant deterrent to leaching of gold.
The leaching of the gold takes place at room temperature, reducing the need for hot plates or burners.
Leaching a small amount of material in a small container. This would be appropriate for evaluating a new source of ore or for evaluating the leaching effectiveness within a larger operation. Think of this as a laboratory or exploratory scale for determination of the ore characteristics, or for the determination of presence or absence of gold or PGM's.
Leaching a nominal amount of material in a bucket. This would be appropriate for micron gold left over from dredge concentrates, low volume tailings, or to determine if a multi-container system would be appropriate. Think of this as a pilot stage: to determine what is needed for processing larger quantities of material or as a processing system for moderate quantities of starting material.
Leaching a large amount of material in small or large portions by using multiple containers. This would be appropriate for raw ore that leaches slowly (for instance, coarse gold) or for ores requiring a large throughput.
The leaching process is sufficiently simple that almost any user can use it safely, even if they do not thoroughly understand the chemistry of what is happening.
Most of my clients will be able to use the simplest version of the process. This simplest version is appropriate if gold is the only target metal of interest and the starting material does not contain significant amounts of alkaline material, silver, lead, mercury, or manganese. Presence of any of these other components will add some complexity to the process but they are all manageable.
Any pre-concentration activity that does not remove the particulate gold will be extremely advantageous for the leaching process.
And possibly the most important of all: The ore and the recovered gold never has to leave the custody of the owner.
General limitations or complications with the iodine leaching process, as currently identified:
An additional step is required in order to process an ore that contains significant amounts of copper, silver, mercury, or lead (for removal as an interference or as a recoverable material).
An additional step is required in order to process an ore that contains significant amounts of manganese (removal as a significant interference).
An additional step is appropriate in order to process an ore that contains significant amounts of leachable iron (black sand is not significantly active)
An additional step is required in order to process an ore that is alkaline (as a significant interference).
Leaching of gold particles that are readily visible may require a substantial leaching time due to the limited surface area available. It is best to recover these particles by sluicing or panning, rather than by leaching. Gold recovered by mechanical means might be much lower purity than the gold recovered by leaching, therefore, it may be necessary to keep them separate.
Large quantities of copper salts or metallic copper (especially electronic parts and plated gold) will interfere with the leaching or the processing of the leach, and will rob the leach solution of iodine. BlackSand2Gold has procedures for removal/recovery of copper, lead, mercury, silver, and manganese.
The leaching process has not yet been optimized for recovery of PGM's, but it is expected that PGM's will pass through the leaching operation and be recovered with the base metals. This problem is difficult to resolve because testing for PGM's is sophisticated and is not readily available to the small scale miner, therefore, most miners probably won't even know how to test for them, nor have the ability.
BlackSand2Gold is no longer offering to test ore samples for free, due to the extreme difficulties in keeping multiple samples free of cross-contamination, which is not an issue when the process is used as a production method. It has been found that, when gold is actually present, it is usually very simple to extract and recover it as high quality, nanoparticle, metallic gold, which introduces new characteristics that are very unique compared to the typical characteristics that most gold prospectors are familiar with. The unique properties of nanoparticles are sufficient to create a very steep learning curve for even the experienced prospectors, and that is where BlackSand2Gold and the subscription process really becomes useful. BlackSand2Gold will continue to perform evaluations for existing and future subscribers to help them deal with problems that are specific to their ores.
Beneficial Aspects of the BlackSand2Gold Process
The process is so simple that almost anyone can follow the steps without extensive knowledge of chemistry, as long as they follow the instructions provided.
Quickly evaluate the presence or absence of gold in a particular sample of ore (or in a particular component of the ore).
Quickly determine the processing characteristics of the ore.
Simple scaleup from evaluation to production scale.
The chemistry for the evaluation procedures is identical to the chemistry for the production procedures.
All of the chemicals involved are essentially non-toxic, non-flammable, inexpensive, and easily obtainable.
The expensive chemical is almost totally recyclable.
The execution of the process is simple, The chemistry is very complex and there is almost no technical literature that describes what is happening in the leaching operation, therefore, there are very few people that know how to use the chemistry properly.
Expensive monitoring equipment is not required because most of the process can be followed by distinct color changes.
The process is useful for following the path of the gold when you are trying to concentrate the ore by classification (is it in the fine particles, small gravel, large gravel, rocks).
The process can be made even more attractive by eliminating part of the ore by removing portions of the ore that are known to contain very little gold (use the process to confirm that a particular portion contains no gold).
Grinding to a small particle size is rarely required (and sometimes is detrimental because it destroys the ability of the ore to settle quickly in the leaching solution). If grinding is determined to be necessary to release embedded gold, grind lightly, leach the fines and sluice or pan the coarse material. Further grind the coarse material, if desired, and then recheck for gold content by leaching.
The steep learning curve has been simplified substantially, covering ground that nobody has covered before. Many of the aspects that are covered are directly contradictory to conventional practices of gold prospecting, including identification of gold, recovery of the metallic gold, and even melting of the gold.
Additional Important Information Related to the BlackSand2Gold Process
Access to the BlackSand2Gold process information is by subscription only, currently at $50 per year, under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and Trade Secret rules. Under the NDA, you will not disseminate my process details, and I will not discuss details of your business with others. Under the Trade Secret rules, you will not disseminate the process details, publish them, or post them on the Internet, or discuss them in forums, nor will you allow disclosure outside of your immediate organization. You may process ore for friends or neighbors but you may not disseminate the process details. Trade Secret rules are in effect forever and are independent from NDA criteria, until BlackSand2Gold, LLC decides to make the information public, which I do not intend to do and I will take measures to maintain those Trade Secret requirements. Unauthorized disclosure can be a civil offense, under Georgia State law (O.C.G.A 10-1-760 et seq.) for the giver AND for the recipient, depending on the conditions and the financial damage to BlackSand2Gold, LLC. In the case of willful violation, punitive damages may be possible. The subscription fee is very minimal if you have good starting material. The process involves very specific conditions and there is a steep learning curve that subscribers do not need to go through. Under the subscription agreement, you will have access to email and telephone support for any and all aspects of the process where you need assistance.
BlackSand2Gold, LLC does not provide any of the starting ore material, does not provide for disposal of spent ore, does not provide for disposal of waste materials, nor does it provide for sale of the recovered gold. The subscriber is responsible for the safe use of all chemicals and for compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations.
In June 2007, iodine was moved from List II, Controlled Substances (significant control) to List I (very heavily controlled). What that means is that anyone distributing iodine or iodine-containing materials must possess a DEA registration and maintain detailed records of transactions and inventories, and prevent diversion of the chemicals to illicit activities. BlackSand2Gold has been in contact with DEA and DEA has confirmed that, for the intended operation, BlackSand2Gold and their clients, are within the guidelines, therefore, registration is not required, even if small amounts of free iodine are generated but not distributed. Subscribers will have access to those communications.
How Well Do You Know Your Starting Material?
The BlackSand2Gold process should be of greatest value to my subscribers when used as an evaluation tool to characterize their own ores and to help them identify exactly, the nature of their gold, its location within the ore, and how best to process it. Because there is no need for the ore to leave the possession of the owner, he is free to try various processing variations and evaluate for himself the advantages and disadvantages, based on the properties of his ore and his facilities. For example, if it is known that the ore contains gold, is it in the super small particles, the fine sand portion, the gravel portion, or the small rocks portion? If it is in any portion other than the super small particles or the fine sand, will grinding enhance the recovery, and if so, how much grinding is required to release the gold? It has been proven in the industry, that grinding beyond what is needed to release (or expose) the gold is counter-productive because the small ore particles will generate substantial problems with settling rates and the ability to cleanly separate the ore from the leaching solution.
If you have a sluice operation, are you certain that significant values are not being lost as very small gold simply because you are so intent on capturing small quantities of visible gold? You can evaluate the very small material by leaching and then sluicing (or panning) the coarser material without having to worry about washing away the fine gold (if you screen out the fines first, for leaching, the sluiced material has no fines, by definition).
Do you have a starting material that you already recognize as containing super small gold so that a water table or centrifugal flow device is the only thing that works, but it is too slow to suit you? Leaching might be the answer. In this case, leaching might be the easiest way to evaluate the material and it also may be the least expensive way to recover the gold as a production technique. This case also includes placer deposits that include very small and very coarse gold: simply classify the material to separate the very small for leaching, the gravel for panning (or sluicing), and the coarse rocks for evaluation with crushing.
Do you have a personal claim with the possibility of a lot of small gold or a small amount of pannable gold but you are not willing to go into a large leaching operation using dangerous chemicals? BlackSand2Gold might be a good fit for you.
Do you have a hardrock operation where it is almost mandatory for you to crush your starting material? Have you determined how fine you NEED to crush the material in order to recover the gold values? If you have to crush the rocks to a fine powder, you may already be forced to recover the gold by leaching rather than by sluicing or water table. If so, the BlackSand2Gold process may be the right choice as your production recovery method.
Do you want to recover gold from computer parts? The leaching process works nicely, especially if you pre-treat the parts to remove most of the copper. Leaching tends to be a little slow due to the reduced area of exposure, but the process will generate a rich pregnant solution and precipitation is generally very rapid due to the high gold concentration. Recovery using aqua regia can get very expensive because the nitric acid cannot be recycled at any level and it presents significant problems and risk. Leaching with bleach and acid is extremely risky (and possibly, deadly) and the bleach suppliers do not intend to share any responsibility for injuries caused by such usage. If you doubt that, read the label carefully.
Do you want to recover gold from plated jewelry? That is what I used when I started evaluating the process parameters. The leach solution was capable of removing essentially all of the plating from a necklace in about 15 minutes. Precipitation is generally very rapid due to the high gold concentration.
Does your starting material contain PGM's? How would you know if you did not have it tested? Even though it may not be practical to recover the separate PGM's as a small scale miner, it could be attractive for a refiner to extract them from the base metal iodides after they have been concentrated somewhat in the leaching operation. Presence or absence of PGM's is generally determined by XRF. BlackSand2Gold will help you get the PGM's into a more concentrated form that can be processed further by a precious metals refiner.
Does your starting material contain silver, mercury, lead, or manganese? BlackSand2 Gold will help you identify these materials and help you remove them for recovery, to remove them to prevent interference in the leaching process, or remove them to prevent them from showing up as contaminants in your final gold product.
Does your starting material contain components that will adversely affect the leaching process, such as alkaline material that will cause foaming or other reactions that will interfere physically with the leaching actions? It is better to identify these possibilities in the Evaluation Procedure vs finding them in the Production Procedure.
Last Revised: 03/01/2019