I took a small ball of amalgam, placed it in a double fold of new fine grained calico, and after soaking in hot water put it under a powerful press. The weight of the ball before pressing was 1583 gr. From this 383 gr. of mercury was expressed and five-eighths of a grain of gold was retorted from this expressed mercury. The residue, in the form of a dark, grey, and very friable cake, was powdered up between the fingers and retorted, when it became a brown powder; it was afterwards calcined on a flat sheet in the open air; result, 510 gr. of russet-coloured powder. Smelted with borax, the iron oxide readily separated with the slag; result, 311 gr. gold 871-1000 fine; a second smelting brought this up to 914-1000 fine. Proportion of smelted gold to amalgam, one-fifth.
The principal point about this mode of treatment is the squeezing out of the mercury, whereby the amalgam goes into the retort in the form of powder, thus preventing the slagging of the iron and enclosure of the gold. The second point of importance is thorough calcining before smelting.
Of course it would be practicable, if desired, to treat the powder with hydrochloric acid, and thus remove all the iron, but in a large way this would be too expensive, and my laboratory treatment, though necessarily on a small scale, was intended to be on a practical basis.
The amalgam at this mine was in this way afterwards treated with great success.
For the information of readers who do not understand the chemical symbols it may be said that
FeCO3 is carbonate of
CaCO3 is carbonate of calcium;
CaSO4 is sulphate of calcium;
CaCl2 is chloride of calcium;
MgCl2 is chloride of magnesium;
NaCl is chloride of sodium, or common salt.
GOLD EXTRACTION—SECONDARY PROCESSES AND LIXIVIATION
Before any plan is adopted for treating the ore in a new mine the management should very seriously and carefully consider the whole circumstances of the case, taking into account the quantity and quality of the lode stuff to be operated on, and ascertain by analysis what are its component parts, for, as before stated, the treatment which will yield most satisfactory results with a certain class of gangue on one mine will sometimes, even when the material is apparently similar, prove a disastrous failure in another. Some time since I was glad to note that the manager of a prominent mine strongly discountenanced the purchase of any extracting plant until he was fully satisfied as to the character of the bulk of the ore he would have to treat. It would be well for the pockets of shareholders and the reputation of managers, if more of our mine superintendents followed this prudent and sensible course.