gold production, UPR, ecoinvent 3.6, Undefined

ISIC4 categories:
B:Mining and quarrying/07:Mining of metal ores/072:Mining of non-ferrous metal ores/0729:Mining of other non-ferrous metal ores
CA - Canada
Reference year: 2003 - 2006

Location: CA - Canada
This dataset describes the production of 1 kg of gold. Data was taken from the environmental report of Placer Dome Inc. for the Campbell, Musselwhite and Porcupine Mines, which produce only gold. Campbell and Musselwhite are underground mines, whereas Porcupine has underground and open pit mines. For the inventory, most by product and exchange amounts were calculated by adding the corresponding inputs or outputs of each mine, and then scaling them to the reference flow of 1 kg of gold. Since the mines have been sold in 2006 to Kinross Gold Corporation and Goldcorp Inc., no actual data is available. Both enterprises do not publish their environmental data. Therefore, data from 2002 is used to model the gold production in Canada.
Beneficiation, concentration and refinement of gold.
total requirements and emissions of the Campbell, Musselwhite and Porcupine Mines in 2002 as well as the total for Canada.
[The full documentation of this dataset was originally provided in the corresponding ecoinvent report from the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories, which is accessible for free to guests and users of ecoinvent version 2 ( The dataset may subsequently have been subjected to central changes to the database, as described in the respective change report for each new release.]
Undefined unit processes (UPRs) are the unlinked, multi-product activity datasets that form the basis for all of the system models available in the ecoinvent database. This is the way the datasets are obtained and entered into the database by the data providers. These activity datasets are useful for investigating the environmental impacts of a specific activity (gate-to-gate), without regard to its upstream or downstream impacts.


The ore is mined in four steps: drilling, blasting, loading and hauling. In the case of a surface mine, a pattern of holes is drilled in the pit and filled with explosives. The explosives are detonated in order to break up the ground so large shovels or front-end loaders can load it into haul trucks.
Some ore bodies are more economically mined underground. In this case, a tunnel called an adit or a shaft is dug into the earth. Sort tunnels leading from the adit or shaft, called stopes, are dug to access the ore. The surface containing the ore, called a face, is drilled and loaded with explosives. Following blasting, the broken ore is loaded onto electric trucks and taken to the surface. Once mining is completed in a particular stope, it is backfilled with a cement compound.
The haul trucks transport the ore to various areas for processing. The grade and type of ore determine the processing method used. Higher-grade ores are taken to a mill. Lower grade ores are taken to leach pads. Some ores may be stockpiled for later processing.
In the Porcupine Mines, gold is recovered using a combination of gravity concentration, milling and cyanidation techniques. The milling process consists of primary crushing, secondary crushing, rod/ball mill grinding, gravity concentration, cyanide leaching, carbon-in-pulp gold recovery, stripping, electrowinning and refining.
In the Campbell Mine, the ore from the mine, after crushing and grinding, is processed by gravity separation, flotation, pressure oxidation, cyanidation and carbon-in-pulp process followed by electro-winning and gold refining to doré on site.
The Musselwhite Mine uses gravity separation, carbon in pulp, electro¬winning and gold refining to doré on site.
Wohlwill electrolysis. It is assumed that the gold doré-bars from both mines undergo the treatment of Wohlwill electrolysis. This process uses an electrolyte containing 2.5 mol/l of HCl and 2 mol/l of HAuCl4 acid. Electrolysis is carried out with agitation at 65 – 75 °C. The raw gold is intro-duced as cast anode plates. The cathodes, on which the pure gold is deposited, were for many years made of fine gold of 0.25 mm thickness. These have now largely been replaced by sheet titanium or tantalum cathodes, from which the thick layer of fine gold can be peeled off. In a typical electrolysis cell, gold anodes weighing 12 kg and having dimensions 280×230×12 mm (0.138 m2 surface) are used. Opposite to them are conductively connected cathode plates, arranged by two or three on a support rail. One cell normally contains five or six cathode units and four or five anodes. The maximum cell voltage [V] is 1.5 V and the maximum anodic current density [A] 1500 A/m2. The South African Rand refinery gives a specific gold production rate of 0.2 kg per hour Wohlwill electrolysis. Assuming a current efficiency of 95% the energy consumption is [V] x [A] / 0.2 [kg/h] = 1.63 kWh per kg gold refined. No emissions are assumed because of the purity and the high value of the material processed. The resulting sludge contains the PGM present in the electric scrap and is sold for further processing.
Effluents are discharged into the ocean.
Newmont (2004) How gold is mined. Newmont. Retrieved from
Renner H., Schlamp G., Hollmann D., Lüschow H. M., Rothaut J., Knödler A., Hecht C., Schlott M., Drieselmann R., Peter C. and Schiele R. (2002) Gold, Gold Alloys, and Gold Compounds. In: Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Online version, posting date: September 15, 2000 Edition. Wiley-Interscience, Online-Version under:
Auerswald D. A. and Radcliffe P. H. (2005) Process technology development at Rand Refinery. In: Minerals Engineering, 18(8), pp. 748-753, Online-Version under:

Process type
Supported nomenclature
ecoinvent 3.6
LCI modeling approach
Before modeling
Multifunctional modeling
Aggregation type
Data provider
Review status
For sale

ecoinvent EULA