The use of ultraviolet light (UV) from low pressure mercury lamps for destroying iron cyanide in synthetic and actual gold mill effluents was evaluated in this study.
For the light intensities used in this study, UV irradiation was not able to efficiently destroy cyanide. However, it converted iron cyanide to a weak acid dissociable form which was destroyed by chlorine. Data from several bench-scale tests and one pilot scale test were used to estimate quantum efficiencies (moles iron cyanide destroyed/einstein). These efficiencies ranged from 0.2% to 1%; approximately 30% to 90% lower than those reported in the literature for potassium ferricyanide.
The data collected during the study demonstrated the technical feasibility of using UV in conjunction with chlorination for destroying iron cyanide in gold mill effluents. However, low pressure mercury lamps do not appear to be a practical UV source for this purpose. Irradiation with high intensity lamps may be more practical and is recommended for experimental evaluation.