Industrial gases and precious metals


The global output of new gold in 2009 was 2,572 tonnes, which is about 75% greater than the total for 1970. The top five producing countries back then, led by South Africa, included the then USSR, Canada, US and Australia who together produced 91% of the world’s gold output.

In 2009 these five long-term producers accounted for only 37% of the new gold while China, Peru, Indonesia, Ghana and Uzbekistan delivered 29%. As the production base has diversified around the globe, extraction processes have evolved to suit the varying conditions encountered.

South Africa’s Bushveld Complex is the main producing area supplying around 59% of the worlds PGM requirements and another significant area is the Norilsk region in Russia that is responsible for 27%, while North America produced about 14% of global output last year.

Extraction via gases
By Tony Wheatley
The use of oxygen in non-ferrous pyrometallurgy has a history of success dating back to the mid 1960s to raise furnace temperatures and thereby assist in the smelting of metal concentrates.

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