1 Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
Large amounts of cyanides are used in gold mining. The application is open and generates environmental problems. Regulators therefore insist on detoxifying cyanide-contaminated wastewater. There are existing technologies to remove cyanides, but none uses plants. Here, a new technology is introduced: All plants (as far as known) have an enzyme to detoxify cyanide by binding it to an amino acid. Cyanide in the appropriate dose can be used by plants as nitrogen source. Compared to other organisms, plants can tolerate high doses of free and complexed cyanidess. Using plants for detoxifying mining wastewater combines several benefits: cyanide is removed, plants are irrigated and fertilised. Heavy metals (including gold) are extracted by plants. Plants can be harvested and used, e.g., for energy production by burning. The ash of the plants is probaly rich in gold and a resource for further gold production. The technique is sustainable and less expensive than existing technologies.
cyanide; elimination; gold mining; heavy metals; hyperaccumulation