Flow chart courtesy of Professor Abrol Kakharov

Originally posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Some critics of gold (and of the gold standard) are concerned by the environmental toxicity of the cyanide now used to extract gold from ore.  This process may be about to change to something much greener.

Gizmag reports

In the gold-mining process, the precious metal is often extracted from low-grade ore in a technique known as gold cyanidation. As its name suggests, the process utilizes highly-poisonous cyanide, some of which ends up entering the environment in the mines’ tailings. … Scientists at Illinois’ Northwestern University, however, recently announced their discovery of a new gold recovery process that’s based on a non-toxic component of corn starch.

The process was discovered by accident, when postdoctoral fellow Zhichang Liu was trying to create a tiny cubic structure that could be used to store gases and molecules. …

To his surprise, less than a minute after the solutions were mixed together, the gold content formed into solid needles. … While the needles were very small themselves, they could be harvested from the rest of the liquid.

The inexpensive process creates relatively innocuous alkali metal salt as a by-product, and reportedly extracts gold more effectively than existing methods.

“Zhichang stumbled on a piece of magic for isolating gold from anything in a green way.”

The distinction between gold as commodity and the classical gold standard — which does not require extravagant amounts of gold to perform its own piece of magic in the fostering of a climate of equitable prosperity — is a significant one.  Many proponents of the classical gold standard fully share a devotion to the highest environmental standards and welcome the accidental discovery by Dr. Zhichang both for environmental reasons and reasons of cultural mimetics.