Curtin University research has found that small amounts of gold can be trapped inside pyrite. or commonly known as ̵6;Fool’s Gold’, which makes gold more valuable than its name.
The study was published in the journal geology in collaboration with the University of Western Australia and the University of Geosciences of China. An in-depth analysis was conducted to better understand the mineralogical location of gold trapped in pyrite. This could lead to more environmentally friendly methods of gold extraction.
Lead researcher Dr Denis Fugueiros from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences said the new “invisible” gold was previously unknown and could be observed using optical instruments. Science called atomic probes only.
Dr Fugerous said: “The rate of discovery of new gold deposits is decreasing globally with the quality of mineral degradation. along with the increasing value of precious metals.”
“Previously, gold extractors were able to find gold in dense ores, whether it be nanoparticles or dense gold alloys. But what we discovered is that gold can also host in nanoscale crystal defects, representing a new type of “invisible” gold.
“The more deformed the crystal, the more The more gold is confined to its flaws. Gold exists in nanoscale defects called dislocations, which are one hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, so a special technique called atomic probe was needed to observe it.”
Dr Fougerouse said the research team is also exploring ways to extract gold and possible ways to obtain trapped gold with less environmental impact.
“Generally, gold is extracted using pressure oxidizing techniques. (Similar to cooking), but this process takes a lot of energy. We want to find a more environmentally friendly extraction method,” said Dr. Fugueros.
“We considered an extraction process known as selective leaching. using liquids to extract gold from pyrites Discrepancies don’t just trap gold. But it also acts as a liquid pathway that allows gold to “wash out” without affecting all pyrites.
Reference: “A new type of gold invisible in pyrites whose movements are associated with deformation” by Denis Fougerouse; Steven M. Reddy; Mark Islemore; Lin Yang; Paul Guillardo; David W. Saxey; William DA Rickard and Nicholas Timms, 24 June 2021, geology.
The study was supported by the Australian Research Council and the Dr. Fougerouse Science and Industry Endowment Fund of the Institute for Geosciences Research (TIGeR), Curtin’s flagship Earth Sciences Research Institute.