A Queensland invention, which enables on-site production of cyanide used in mining, has been announced the overall winner at this year’s Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards 2014.
The award ceremony was hosted by BBC News’ Kate Silverton and held yesterday (local time) at Cheltenham Racecourse in the UK.
The University of Queensland in collaboration with Australian-based Synergen Met Pty Ltd, beat over 60 other entries to the Overall Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering in 2014 for their process plant that manufactures cyanide on location at the mine site.
The development reduces costs by up to 50 per cent and avoids the need to transport, store and handle large volumes of hazardous solid and liquid sodium cyanide.
In addition to collecting the top prize, the Synergen Met and UQ entry, called “Modular On-site Cyanide Production Unit”, was also presented with the Core Chemical Engineering Award.
Cyanide, and the process of cyanidation, is the most efficient method for extracting gold and silver from low grade ore. However, it is highly toxic and its manufacture, transport and handling pose major safety and environmental challenges.
Christopher Dunks, managing director at Synergen Met Pty Ltd, said: “This award validates the importance of our site based cyanide production unit and the paradigm shift it generates for the supply of cyanide to the global mining community.
“It also validates the important impact it will have on communities affected by mines and the impact of removing cyanide from transport networks.”
“IChemE president, Professor Geoff Maitland, said “Few professions have the power globally to shape and improve the future. Chemical engineers have this privilege and this year’s IChemE Global Awards illustrate how our profession is setting new standards in healthcare, energy, water, safety and a more sustainable planet, including supporting some of the poorest people in the world