A recent study may have found the reason why gold is usually discovered around arsenic. The study, which involved geochemists from various institutions across the globe, may help explain why miners of the precious metal may be more at risk of arsenic poisoning.
The study’s findings were presented at the annual global Goldschmidt Conference, which focuses on geochemistry and other associated sciences. The findings were also published in a report in the “Geochemical Perspectives Letters.”
Gold has various applications in chemistry, electronics and jewelry making, as well as in metallurgy. The precious metal also possesses various qualities, including rarity, stability, purity and beauty, which keep its value from diminishing.
The global authority organization for the valuable metal, the World Gold Council, approximates that roughly 200,000 gold tons have been extracted from the earth in human history, with almost 66% of this amount being mined since the 1950s.
While the majority of gold is extracted from other minerals and ores, some of it comes in nuggets. Arsenic minerals such as arsenopyrite, cobaltite, realgar and pyrite as well as iron ore are known to contain the valuable metal. These minerals play the role of a sponge, which collects and absorbs gold in small amounts. Compared to other minerals, arsenic minerals and iron ore concentrate gold in significantly higher quantities.
For their study, the researchers monitored gold particle movement in the minerals through the use of the European Synchrotron, which is found in France’s Grenoble city. The powerful X-rays of this state-of-the-art equipment were used to examine the chemical bonds between the mineral itself and gold. This led researchers to the discovery that gold bound itself to arsenic directly and stabilized inside the mineral when the mineral was enriched with arsenic.
However, the researchers note that gold does not bind directly with arsenic or even enter the mineral if the amount of arsenic is low. Instead, gold binds to the sulfur found on the mineral’s surface.
Dr. Gleb Pokrovski, the lead researcher of the study who also happens to be the research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, states that arsenic drives gold concentration. In the conference’s news release, Pokrovski explained that the team’s discovery could provide insights into how iron sulfide minerals release or absorb huge concentrations of the precious metal, adding that this was in addition to helping scientists find other precious minerals that bind to minerals that hold arsenic. Furthermore, the report may also help improve the efficiency of gold extraction from minerals and ores.
It looks like there is so much to learn about gold, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find that precious metals extractors such as GoldHaven Resources Corp. (CSE: GOH) (OTCQB: GHVNF) continue to learn and discover new things about this shiny metal as the years go by.
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