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Book Chapter

The Environmental Geochemistry of Cyanide

By
A.C.S. Smith
A.C.S. Smith
1
Deceased
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T.I. Mudder
T.I. Mudder
2
TIMES Limited, 1568 Cobb Hill Road, Bozeman, MT 59718
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Published:
January 01, 1997

Abstract

“His ways precedeth his coming. We speaketh his name in fear and trembling (Anon, circa 451 AD).” Obscure perhaps, but these words of the Roman centurion about his foe Attila the Hun, immediately prior to the defeat of Attila at the Battle of Chalons-sur- Marne in 451 AD, reflect a similar perception within the community of the nature of cyanide. The status of cyanide as a social and environmental pariah is not founded in the technical literature but is emotionally driven, consequent perhaps from the historic use of cyanide by the agencies of law enforcement in the United States and in other jurisdictions to carry out capital punishment.

However, a technically based evaluation of the nature and behavior of cyanide in the environment leads to a more sympathetic view of the potential impact of this widely used industrial and mining chemical. In this chapter, we review the environmental geochemistry of cyanide in mining applications. We will first consider the extraction process chemistry for precious metal ores, a chemical process in which cyanide is a vital ingredient. We will then describe fundamental aspects of cyanide chemistry, and translate this chemistry to geochemical reactions and processes. The application of these processes and reactions forms the root of how cyanide migration and attenuation in the natural environment can be evaluated.

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Contents

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The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits: Part A: Processes, Techniques, and Health Issues Part B: Case Studies and Research Topics

G.S. Plumlee
G.S. Plumlee
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M.J. Logsdon
M.J. Logsdon
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L.F. Filipek
L.F. Filipek
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Society of Economic Geologists
Volume
6
ISBN electronic:
9781629490137
Publication date:
January 01, 1997

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