ICMI Proposes Expanding the Scope of the Cyanide Code to Include Use of Cyanide in Flotation When Co-located with Cyanide Leaching

The International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) today proposed to expand the scope of the International Cyanide Management Code for the Manufacture, Transport and Use of Cyanide in the Production of Gold (Cyanide Code) to include the use of cyanide in flotation operations that are conducted at a site where cyanide also is used to produce gold by leaching. ICMI seeks comment from Cyanide Code stakeholders before finalizing the expansion.

Since its inception, the scope of the Cyanide Code has been limited to cyanide that is used to leach gold from ore (the “cyanidation” process). Cyanide also is used in the minerals industry in a process known as “flotation.” Flotation separates and concentrates various sulfide minerals to produce a metal-bearing material that is subject to further processing to recover such as copper, lead, molybdenum, gold and silver.

The Cyanide Code expansion proposed by ICMI would apply only to gold mining operations that use cyanide both for leaching and flotation at the same location. In such a situation, if the cyanidation operation (e.g., a carbon-in-leach plant or a heap leach facility) is designated for certification under the Cyanide Code, then the use of cyanide in flotation at the same site (a “co-located” facility) also must be evaluated during the Cyanide Code certification audit. All cyanide use at the site would be subject to the Cyanide Code’s Principles and Standards of Practice, and the Verification Protocol for Gold Mining Operations would be used to determine whether all cyanide use at the site was in compliance with the Cyanide Code. If the audit found that cyanide was being managed in compliance with the Cyanide Code throughout the site, then the entire facility, including both its leaching and flotation activities, would be certified. The first audit of a cyanidation operation’s co-located flotation facility would be considered to be its initial audit and would evaluate its current compliance only, regardless of whether the cyanidation facility had previously been certified.

The proposed changes to Cyanide Code documentation to implement the expansion are described below, and copies of the documents showing the proposed revisions can be accessed by clicking on the document’s name.

1.     Changes to the Cyanide Code

The word “cyanidation” would be deleted from the second paragraph of the “Scope” section so the Cyanide Code applies to mill tailings from both flotation and cyanidation.  (See page 1 of the Cyanide Code.)
The word “cyanidation” would be deleted from the “Auditor Criteria and Review Process” section of the Cyanide Code.  (See page 8 of the Cyanide Code.)
Two additional changes to the Cyanide Code are proposed that are not related to the expansion:

The description of the required professional auditing certification in the “Auditor Criteria and Review Process” section of the Cyanide Code would be revised to update the original Cyanide Code language to more accurately reflect how this requirement is implemented.  (See page 8 of the Cyanide Code.)
A typographical error would be corrected in the “Cyanide Code Verification and Certification” section.  (See page 6 of the Cyanide Code.)
2.     Changes to Cyanide Code Definitions and Acronyms
The expansion of the Cyanide Code would primarily be accomplished through new and revised definitions.  Definitions of the previously undefined terms “gold mine, gold mining, gold mining operation” and “co-located” would be added and the existing definitions of “operations” and “process solution” would be revised as follows:

The term “co-located” would be defined so that it can be used in the new definition of “gold mine, gold mining, gold mining operation” to describe the flotation operations that would be subject to the Cyanide Code.  (See page 2 of Definitions and Acronyms.)
The terms “gold mine, gold mining, and gold mining operation,” which currently are used throughout the Cyanide Code and its implementing documents but which have not previously been defined, would be defined to include cyanidation facilities and co-located flotation facilities.  (See page 3 of Definitions and Acronyms.)
The reference to “cyanidation” in the existing definition of “operations” would be deleted.  (See page 4 of Definitions and Acronyms.)
The existing definition of “process solution” would be revised and simplified by deleting the examples that only apply to cyanidation and focusing on the threshold concentration of 0.5 mg/l WAD cyanide, thereby clarifying its application to cyanide solutions used in flotation. (See page 5 of Definitions and Acronyms.)
3.     Changes to the Auditor Guidance for Use of the Gold Mining Operations Verification Protocol
Several changes to this document would be made to identify the expanded scope of the Cyanide Code and to indicate how co-located flotation operations should be addressed.

The new definition of “gold mining” would be included in the General Guidance under Section 2, Scope.  (See page 1 of the Auditor Guidance.)
The discussion under question 1 of Standard of Practice 4.1 would be revised to add an example of a “cyanide facility” at a co-located flotation operation.  (See page 21 of the Auditor Guidance.)
The discussion under Standard of Practice 4.2 would be revised to clarify the applicability of this Standard of Practice to the use of cyanide in co-located flotation operations.  (See pages 28-29 of the Auditor Guidance.)
The discussion under question 3 of Standard of Practice 4.6 would be revised to clarify that this Standard of Practice applies to all mill tailings containing cyanide that are used as mine backfill.  (See page 40 of the Auditor Guidance.)
In addition, typographical errors would be corrected under Standard of Practice 2.2, question 2 and Standard of Practice 7.1, question 4.  (See pages 15 and 66, respectively, of the Auditor Guidance.)

Transition to Expanded Code Scope
A number of cyanidation facilities currently certified under the Cyanide Code also have co-located flotation operations.  ICMI proposes the following transition process to provide these operations the opportunity to evaluate their management of cyanide used in flotation and, if necessary, implement the measures necessary to meet Cyanide Code requirements, without affecting the compliance status of their cyanidation operations.
Gold mines with certified cyanidation operations must include co-located flotation operations within their next triennial certification audit following the effective date of the Cyanide Code’s expansion.

The deadline for the next Cyanide Code certification or recertification audit of a cyanidation facility that a) also uses cyanide in a co-located flotation operation, and b) is required to have its audit within one year after the effective date of the Cyanide Code expansion, would be extended to one year after the effective date of the expansion.
ICMI solicits input from Cyanide Code stakeholders on the proposed expansion of the scope of the program, including its advisability, any policy or technical issues it raises, as well as any other related issues that ICMI should consider before finalizing the expansion.  Stakeholders wishing to comment are requested to provide written comments to ICMI Vice President Norm Greenwald at [email protected] by June 18, 2012.  ICMI will announce its final action on the proposed Cyanide Code expansion after reviewing stakeholder comments.

Friday, May 18, 2012