The company estimates that its molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) ion exchange resin can increase gold mining profits by about US$100/oz in processing savings and extra gold recovered in direct comparison to activated carbon, the most widely used extraction medium today. It also stated that widespread adoption of IXOS could potentially add billions of dollars in profits to an industry that produces about 90Moz/y of gold.
Each IXOS bead is imprinted at the molecular level to attract gold and ignore the other elements leached off in mining operations. Unlike conventional ion exchange resins, the IXOS resin has a long life (>50 loading/unloading cycles), and high capacity (~30g/kg) and selectivity for gold (>95%).
Moreover, the capacity and selectivity does not degrade with successive cycles. The unloading (elution) process is simple, straightforward and inexpensive when compared to activated carbon. The beads require no activation step for re-use. The resin is supplied ready-to-use, with a range of particle sizes available to accommodate heap leach and resin-in-leach/pulp circuits.
Susan Ritz, principal process engineer and president of Jack Rabbit Consulting, a prominent gold mining engineering firm, said: “6th Wave's resin technology has great potential. It works well under very challenging conditions and appears to be more highly selective for gold than carbon. I can see it replacing carbon as the adsorbent of choice.”
6th Wave stated that IXOS has consistently and thoroughly outperformed activated carbon and conventional ion-exchange resins in laboratory and field trials conducted over the past three years. These trials were done in partnership with some of the world’s largest gold mining companies under a wide variety of conditions, including high grade, low grade, and refractory (preg-robbing) ores. In the trials, IXOS also demonstrated a variety of advantages to activated carbon, including capacity, selectivity, elution time and temperature, adsorption efficiency, durability, and re-use. These advantages directly translate to lower costs and more gold recovered.
Use of IXOS also requires fewer chemicals, reduces waste, has no toxic emissions, and uses less power — making it a ‘greener’ technology.
Dr Jonathan Gluckman, chairman and CEO of 6th Wave, noted: “Working with our mining partners has allowed us to field-test the IXOS beads in harsh conditions that are impossible to synthesise. We have clearly demonstrated that the beads work consistently and predictably, and display all of the positive attributes we have seen in the lab. We are confident that IXOS will substantially increase our customers’ profitability.”