Optimization of adaptive and sustainable gold ore grinding processes for better environmental and land conditions in the small-scale gold mining sector in Indonesia


  • Dadan Mohamad Nurjaman National Research and Innovation Agensy (BRIN) https://orcid.org/0009-0008-8137-5088
  • Harmin Sulistiyaning Titah Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil, Planning, and Geo-Engineering, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh November (ITS) Surabaya, Indonesia
  • Adji Kawigraha Research Center for Mining Technology, National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Indonesia
  • Ipung Fitri Purwanti Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil, Planning, and Geo-Engineering, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh November (ITS) Surabaya, Indonesia
  • Wahyu Hidayat Research Center for Mining Technology, National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Indonesia




ASGM, cyanide leaching, grain size, grinding process, local resources


The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector largely relies on mercury in gold processing, posing potential environmental contamination, health issues, and land degradation. In the villages of Tatelu and Talawaan, ASGM operations, guided by local knowledge and resources, have transitioned to using cyanide leaching for gold processing sustainably. These operations utilize andesitic stones from river deposits as grinding media in the grinding process. However, the cyanide leaching results were not optimal, with a gold recovery below 60%. This leaves significant amounts of gold in the waste, necessitating further processing and the incomplete treatment of free cyanide waste. The suboptimal gold recovery in cyanide leaching is attributed to the inadequate grain size liberation during grinding. This study optimized grinding by comparing andesitic stone grinding media with steel balls and rods. The findings indicate that to achieve a grain size of 75% passing 74 um, grinding with andesitic stones takes 4 hours, while steel rods and balls take 3 hours. For a grain size of 75% passing 44 um, grinding with andesitic stones, steel balls, and rods requires 6 hours. With more precise process parameters, locally available andesitic stones can be an effective grinding medium to optimize gold recovery. In line with optimizing gold recovery, this will enhance ASGM's revenue, encouraging the adoption of waste management practices to alleviate environmental impact, health risks, and land degradation. This aligns with the promotion of sustainable practices within the ASGM sector.


Azevedo, R. ande Rodriguez, E. 2012. Phytotoxicity of mercury in plants: a review. Journal of Botany 2012:1-6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/848614 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/848614

Azizi, A. and Ghaedrahmati, R. 2015. Optimizing and evaluating the operational factors affecting the cyanide leaching circuit of the Aghdareh gold processing plant using a CCD model. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 471(2184). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2015.0681 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2015.0681

Bouffard, S.C. and Dixon, D.G. 2007. Evaluation of kinetic and diffusion phenomena in cyanide leaching of crushed and run-of-mine gold ores. Hydrometallurgy 86(1-2):63-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2006.11.004 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2006.11.004

Calao-Ramos, C., Bravo, A.G., Paternina-Uribe, R., Marrugo-Negrete, J. and Díez, S. 2021. Occupational human exposure to mercury in artisanal small-scale gold mining communities of Colombia. Environment International 146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.106216 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.106216

Cho, H., Kwon, J., Kim, K. and Mun, M. 2013. Optimum choice of the make-up ball sizes for maximum throughput in tumbling ball mills. Powder Technology 246:625-634. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2013.06.026 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2013.06.026

Deniz, V. 2013. Effects of mill speed on kinetic breakage parameters of four different particulate pumices. Particulate Science and Technology 31(2):101-108. https://doi.org/10.1080/02726351.2012.658903 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02726351.2012.658903

Deniz, V. 2016. An investigation on the effects of the ball filling on the breakage parameters of natural amorphous silica. Advanced Powder Technology 27(4):1272-1279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apt.2016.04.017 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apt.2016.04.017

Deniz, V. and Onur, T. 2002. Investigation of the breakage kinetics of pumice samples as dependent on powder filling in a ball mill. International Journal of Mineral Processing 67(1-4):71-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-7516(02)00041-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-7516(02)00041-8

Egan, J., Bazin, C. and Hodouin, D. 2016. Effect of particle size and grinding time on gold dissolution in cyanide solution. Minerals 6(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/min6030068 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/min6030068

Ellis, S. and Senanayake, G. 2004. The effects of dissolved oxygen and cyanide dosage on gold extraction from a pyrrhotite-rich ore. Hydrometallurgy 72(1-2):39-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-386X(03)00131-2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-386X(03)00131-2

Erdem, A.S. and Ergun, S.L. 2009. The effect of ball size on breakage rate parameter in a pilot scale ball mill. Minerals Engineering 22(7-8):660-664. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2009.01.015 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2009.01.015

Faraji, F., Alizadeh, A., Rashchi, F. and Mostoufi, N. 2022. Kinetics of leaching: A review. Reviews in Chemical Engineering 38(2):113-148. https://doi.org/10.1515/revce-2019-0073 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revce-2019-0073

Fikri, E., Firmansyah, Y.W., Afifah, A.S. and Fauzi, M. 2023. The existence of artisanal small-scale gold mining in Indonesia, the Impact of public health and environmental sustainability: a narrative review. Jurnal Kesehatan Lingkungan 15(2):99-108. https://doi.org/10.20473/jkl.v15i2.2023.99-108 DOI: https://doi.org/10.20473/jkl.v15i2.2023.99-108

Hiji, M.F. and Maganga, S.P. 2015. Application of response surface methodology for optimization of vat leaching parameters in small scale mines: case study of Tanzania. American Journal of Engineering, Technology and Society 2(2):21-25.

Hlabangana, N., Bhebhe, S., Mguni, N., Danha, G., Mguni, N.G. and Tshuma, J. 2018. Optimisation of the leaching parameters of a gold ore in sodium cyanide solution agroprocessing view project metallurgical waste treatment view project optimisation of the leaching parameters of a gold ore in sodium cyanide solution 1*. International Journal of Engineering Research and Reviews 6(March):1-10.

Hylander, L.D., Plath, D., Miranda, C.R., Lücke, S., Öhlander, J. and Rivera, A.T.F. 2007. Comparison of different gold recovery methods with regard to pollution control and efficiency. Clean - Soil, Air, Water 35(1):52-61. https://doi.org/10.1002/clen.200600024 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/clen.200600024

Kabezya, K. and Motjotji, H. 2014. The effect of ball size diameter on milling performance. Journal of Material Science & Engineering 04(01):4-6. https://doi.org/10.4172/2169-0022.1000149 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4172/2169-0022.1000149

Knoblauch, A.M., Farnham, A., Ouoba, J., Zanetti, J., Müller, S., Jean-Richard, V., Utzinger, J., Wehrli, B., Brugger, F., Diagbouga, S. and Winkler, M.S. 2020. Potential health effects of cyanide use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Burkina Faso. Journal of Cleaner Production 252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119689 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119689

Lameck, N.S., Kiangi, K.K. and Moys, M.H. 2006. Effects of grinding media shapes on load behaviour and mill power in a dry ball mill. Minerals Engineering 19(13):1357-1361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2006.01.005 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2006.01.005

Matsanga, N., Nheta, W. and Chimwani, N. 2023. A review of the grinding media in ball mills for mineral processing. Minerals 13(11):1373. https://doi.org/10.3390/min13111373 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/min13111373

McKibben, J. 2021. Independent Technical Assessment Report (Issue March). https://minedocs.com/22/Toka_Tindung-TachnicalAssessmentReport-032021.pdf.

Meutia, A.A., Bachriadi, D. and Gafur, N.A. 2023. Environment degradation, health threats, and legality at the artisanal small-scale gold mining sites in Indonesia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 20(18). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20186774 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20186774

Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. 2016. Map of the distribution of UGM locations in Indonesia.

Ministry of Environmental and Forestry. 2022. National Action Plan. In National Action Plan for Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Indonesia in Accordance with the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Mulenga, F K., Mkonde, A.A. and Bwalya, M.M. 2016. Effects of load filling, slurry concentration and feed flowrate on the attainable region path of an open milling circuit. Minerals Engineering 89:30-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2016.01.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2016.01.002

Mulenga, F.K. and Moys, M.H. 2014. Effects of slurry filling and mill speed on the net power draw of a tumbling ball mill. Minerals Engineering 56:45-56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2013.10.028 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2013.10.028

Pang, Q., Gu, J., Wang, H. and Zhang, Y. 2022. Global health impact of atmospheric mercury emissions from artisanal and small-scale gold mining. IScience 25(9):104881. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.104881 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.104881

Razanamahandry, L.C., Andrianisa, H.A., Karoui, H., Podgorski, J. and Yacouba, H. 2018. Prediction model for cyanide soil pollution in artisanal gold mining area by using logistic regression. Catena 162(February 2017):40-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2017.11.018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2017.11.018

Senanayake, G. 2005. Kinetics and reaction mechanism of gold cyanidation: Surface reaction model via Au(I)-OH-CN complexes. Hydrometallurgy 80(1-2):1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2005.08.002 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2005.08.002

Shahbazi, B., Jafari, M., Parian, M., Rosenkranz, J. and Chehreh Chelgani, S. 2020. Study on the impacts of media shapes on the performance of tumbling mills - A review. Minerals Engineering 157(April). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2020.106490 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2020.106490

Spiegel, S.J., Agrawal, S., Mikha, D., Vitamerry, K., Le Billon, P., Veiga, M., Konolius, K. and Paul, B. 2018. Phasing out mercury? Ecological economics and Indonesia's small-scale gold mining sector. Ecological Economics 144(July 2017):1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.025 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.025

Tangsathitkulchai, C. 2003. Effects of slurry concentration and powder filling on the net mill power of a laboratory ball mill. Powder Technology 137(3):131-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2003.08.048 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2003.08.048

Torkaman, P. and Veiga, M.M. 2023. Comparing cyanidation with amalgamation of a Colombian artisanal gold mining sample: Suggestion of a simplified zinc precipitation process. Extractive Industries and Society 13(February 2022):101208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2022.101208 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2022.101208

Veiga, M.M. 2020. A Critical Review of Suitable Methods to Eliminate Mercury in Indonesia's Artisanal Gold Mining: Co-Existence is the Solution (Issue March).

Verbrugge, B., Lanzano, C. and Libassi, M. 2021. The cyanide revolution: Efficiency gains and exclusion in artisanal- and small-scale gold mining. Geoforum 126:267-276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.07.030 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.07.030

Yoga, G.P., Sari, A.A., Nurhati, I.S., Yustiawati, Andreas, and Hindarti, D. 2022. Mercury contamination on aquatic organisms in related to artisanal small-scale gold mining activity in Indonesia: A mini review. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 1062(1):1-8. https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/1062/1/012023 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/1062/1/012023

Yustanti, E., Guntara, A. and Wahyudi, T. 2018. Extraction of North Minahasa Tatelu gold sulfide ore using environmentally friendly reagent thiosulfate. Teknika: Jurnal Sains dan Teknologi 14(2):97. https://doi.org/10.36055/tjst.v14i2.5865 DOI: https://doi.org/10.36055/tjst.v14i2.5865

Zhao, R., Han, Y., He, M. and Li, Y. 2017. Grinding kinetics of quartz and chlorite in wet ball milling. Powder Technology 305:418-425. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2016.07.050 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.powtec.2016.07.050








How to Cite

Nurjaman, D. M., Titah, H. S., Kawigraha, A., Purwanti, I. F., & Hidayat, W. (2024). Optimization of adaptive and sustainable gold ore grinding processes for better environmental and land conditions in the small-scale gold mining sector in Indonesia. Journal of Degraded and Mining Lands Management, 11(3), 5635–5646. https://doi.org/10.15243/jdmlm.2024.113.5635



Research Article