The French government has authorised the startup of a cyanide processing plant at a gold mine west of Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, a decision that TSX-listed Columbus Gold hailed as a “very positive” development.
“This development is a major step and a clear message that the French government is committed to developing the gold mining industry in French Guiana,” says Columbus Gold president and CEO Rock Lefrançois.
Construction of the cyanide processing plant at Dieu-Merci was approved by the state services in 2015 and operations were approved last month.
With all permits in place, commissioning will commence soon for a start of processing slated for early 2020. The plant will have a capacity of 300 t/d with extraction of 90% of the gold by cyanidation.
The decision is based on several recent independent French agency reports that have studied the risks and best practices of cyanide extraction technology for gold.
According to the French National Institute of Industrial Environment and Risk, the use of cyanide is appropriate for gold extraction in French Guiana.
The French Geological Survey also confirmed that there was no viable alternative to cyanide in gold mining, and that cyanide was used by more than 400 facilities worldwide, including in the most modern European mines.
The reports conclude that the main risks are related to the transport and storage of the product and that cyanide technology offers a maturity and a robustness superior to any other existing alternative. Cyanide technology is used at two major gold mines in neighbouring Suriname.
Columbus owns the Montagne d'Or project in a 44.99:55.01 joint venture with Nordgold. It is also advancing the Maripa gold exploration project, where past drilling had returned excellent near surface results, including 36 m of 4.3 g/t gold.