“Our Applied Technology team works with mines to enhance safety and performance related to dissolving, detox and optimization of the entire cyanide circuit.”
Can you give a brief introduction to Cyanco?
Cyanco is the world leader in production, distribution and safe handling of high-quality solution and solid sodium cyanide, a critical reagent in the recovery of gold and silver. The company was founded 30 years ago with its first manufacturing plant in Winnemucca, Nevada, as that region is a core location for US precious metal mining recovery and growth. In addition to our Nevada facility, we operate manufacturing and distribution facilities in Texas, Wyoming and Québec.
Can you elaborate on your production capacities and highlight some of your recent investments?
In the early 1990s, Cyanco built a liquid sodium cyanide plant in Winnemucca, the first of its kind in the US. Before that, gold and silver mines used a dry (solid) form of sodium cyanide that was imported. This traditional supply chain model meant that mines had to store large quantities of sodium cyanide on-site.
In an effort to improve efficiency, safety and security of supply for mines, Cyanco wanted to make cyanide in a form that could be used on-site as a liquid – a sodium cyanide solution – without the need to handle and dissolve the sodium cyanide directly. As Cyanco grew, we built a second solution plant in 1997. This was followed by several production capacity increases over the next ten years. In 2013, we built a solid sodium cyanide plant in Houston, facilitating our entry into global markets. In 2020, we further increased solid production in Winnemucca to serve Canada and Mexico. Today, we operate five independent production lines and produce sodium cyanide in two locations.
What measures are taken to ensure that cyanide is manufactured and transported safely?
It is crucial to engineer systems to ensure safe use of the chemical and then implement policies and procedures for the employees operating the systems. Personal protective equipment on-site is also essential. In addition to the stringent safety measures we have in place throughout our production and transportation functions, Cyanco also has a dedicated Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) department responsible for training our customers and the public on the chemical properties of cyanide and how to use it safely.
How does Cyanco ensure that the environmental impact of cyanide is minimal?
Cyanide is an ideal chemical for the mining industry because it breaks down easily once it is exposed to air, heat, and oxygen, such as in a leaching environment at a mine. Cyanide is composed of carbon and nitrogen, and when it breaks down it does not retain any toxic properties.
That said, we have implemented strict controls throughout the product’s lifecycle to minimize environmental impact, beginning with the design, engineering and construction of our production facilities. We are a zero water emissions discharge facility. Cyanco also has monitors in place to verify that those standards are always met. When the product is used at a mine site or in heap leach operations, similar monitors are in place. Through our Applied Technology and Technical Sales teams, we conduct regular audits with our mine customers to assure their cyanide circuits are operating properly and at the highest standard.
How does Cyanco differentiate itself in the market?
Cyanco is different from other suppliers in that we take a complete product life cycle approach with our product and our customers. Our Applied Technology team works with mines to enhance safety and performance related to dissolving, detox and optimization of the entire cyanide circuit. We work with mines to help them recover more gold from cyanide, whether it is in their mills or heaps. We also work with mines so they consume less cyanide through collaborative continuous improvement projects.
For Nevada mines, our local presence is a differentiating factor. Since we manufacture sodium cyanide locally, we have created a very short distribution chain. This allows us to respond to customer needs better and faster.
Can you share some of Cyanco’s social initiatives?
We have a proud heritage of supporting our local communities, including non-profits, school districts and economic/infrastructure development efforts. For example, Nevada Gold Mines implemented a special fund during Covid-19 called the I-80 Fund. Cyanco was the first company to partner with them as a supplier and made a significant donation to this fund.