Silicon and aluminium leaching kinetics from acidic gold mine tailings

T. Falayi, T. Mashifana, F. Ntuli

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Si and Al were leached from gold mine tailings (GMT) in order to determine if the GMT could be used as precursors for the synthesis of geopolymers. Possible synthesis of geopolymers from GMT would help reduce their potential pollution effects through heavy metal immobilisations. The effect of type of alkali (NaOH/KOH), alkali concentration, temperature, milling and calcination of GMT and solid liquid ratio (S/L) on the leaching of Si and Al was investigated. The optimum conditions were 10 M KOH, S/L of 0.5% m/v and a leaching temperature of 95C. The leaching obeyed the shrinking core model with the surface chemical reaction being the controlling step. The leaching of Si was linked to the Al leaching since the Si/Al ratio of the leachate was around 2 irrespective of leaching conditions. KOH yielded more Si and Al. as compared to NaOH, with 54.7 and 26.7 Si and Al leached respectively from as received GMT. Calcination at 900C resulted in 18% and 22 % increase in Si and Al yield respectively for KOH based leaching. The successful leaching of Si and Al from GMT using KOH provides opportunities for the geopolymerisation of GMT thereby allowing the minimisation of their pollution effects.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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