About the Cyanide Code


The International Cyanide Management Code (hereinafter “the Code”) and other documents or information sources referenced at are believed to be reliable and were prepared in good faith from information reasonably available to the drafters. However, no guarantee is made as to the accuracy or completeness of any of these other documents or information sources. No guarantee is made in connection with the application of the Code, the additional documents available or the referenced materials to prevent hazards, accidents, incidents, or injury to employees and/or members of the public at any specific site where gold is extracted from ore by the cyanidation process. Compliance with this Code is not intended to and does not replace, contravene or otherwise alter the requirements of any specific national, state or local governmental statutes, laws, regulations, ordinances, or other requirements regarding the matters included herein. Compliance with this Code is entirely voluntary and is neither intended nor does it create, establish, or recognize any legally enforceable obligations or rights on the part of its signatories, supporters or any other parties.

These definitions and acronyms apply to terminology used in the Code and Implementation Guidance.

A-C | D-F | G-J | K-O | P-ST-Z

  • Appropriately Qualified Personnel - An individual with the training, expertise and experience to carry out the technical functions discussed in the Code and Implementation Guidelines. The term also includes personnel that may not meet these criteria but who work under the supervision of those who do. For example, the required qualifications for individuals engaged in quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) for construction of cyanide fac ilities or review of as-built drawings would typically consist of an engineering degree with a professional registration and previous experience with QA/QC and construction practices. For individuals preparing environmental monitoring and analysis plans, a degree in an appropriate scientific discipline and experience with sampling and analytical techniques typically would be required. Training personnel should be familiar with the practices and procedures for which the training is given and experienced in effective communication techniques.
  • Audit Findings Report - The detailed report prepared during a Code Verification Audit describing the auditor's findings and the basis for these findings. The Audit Findings Report is a confidential document belonging to the audited operation or the entity paying for the audit.
  • Backfill - Placement of material into a surface or underground mine excavation.
  • Beneficial Use - Use of ground water such as potable water, agricultural application or industrial use that either currently exists, is reasonably foreseeable in the future, or which has been designated by the applicable jurisdiction.
  • Biotoxicity Testing - The exposure of living organisms to an effluent or environmental media to determine its toxicity.
  • Broker - An entity that offers cyanide for sale but which does not produce cyanide.
  • Carbon-In-Leach (CIL) - The technique of recovering dissolved gold from ore that has undergone milling and agitated leaching by introducing activated carbon directly into the leach tanks.
  • Carbon-In-Pulp (CIP) - The technique of recovering dissolved gold from ore that has undergone milling and agitated leaching by adsorbing the gold onto activated carbon in separate tanks after leaching.
  • Ceiling Limit Value - A concentration of a contaminant in air that is not to be exceeded for any period of time.
  • Chain of Custody - Documentation that identifies all changes in the control, handling, possession, ownership and/or custody of a shipment during transport (i.e., cyanide being transported to a gold mine or environmental samples being sent for analysis) from the point of origination to the final destination and the documentation that demonstrates that the shipment has reached its destination intact.
  • Code, The Code, The Cyanide Code - The International Cyanide Management Code for the Manufacture, Transport and Use of Cyanide in the Production of Gold.
  • Code Certification - The result of a finding by the lead auditor of a Code Verification Audit that a signatory operation that has paid the required fees established by the International Cyanide Management Institute is in full compliance with the Code.
  • Code Verification Audit - The process of having an operation audited by an independent third party using the verification protocol of the International Cyanide Management Institute.
  • Conditional Certification - A temporary Code Certification of an operation in substantial compliance or one that has been certified pre-operationally. Conditional Certification of an operation in substantial compliance continues until the Corrective Action Plan has been implemented and the operation is found to be in full compliance, or the time established for completion of the Corrective Action Plan expires. Conditional certification of an operation that has been pre-operationally certified continues for up to one year after it becomes operational and a Code Verification Audit has been conducted.
  • Consignor - An entity which arranges for and oversees the transport of cyanide along a route or portion thereof from its point of production to a certified gold mine or gold production facility. Consignors may include but are not limited to cyanide producers, gold mining companies, brokers, distributors and sales agents. A consignor is considered to be a cyanide transporter for purposes of becomng a Code signatory.
  • Co-producer- a Code-certified cyanide producer that has a contractual arrangement with another Code-certified cyanide producer whereby one producer supplies cyanide to a customer of the other producer to minimize shipping distances and/or otherwise reduce costs.
  • Corrective Action Plan - A document with a description of the specific areas in which an operation that is in substantial compliance with the Code must improve and the measures to be taken to bring the operation into full compliance.
  • Cyanate - A chemical species, OCN-, derived from the chemical or natural oxidation of cyanide.
  • Cyanidation - The process of extracting gold from ore with cyanide.
  • Cyanide - Technically, a singularly charged anion consisting of one carbon atom and one nitrogen atom joined with a triple bond, CN-. However, the term cyanide is used generically throughout the Code and Code documents to refer to the cyanide ion, hydrogen cyanide, as well as salts and complexes of CN- with a variety of metals in solids and solutions.
  • Cyanide Facility - (1) A storage, production, waste management or regeneration unit for managing cyanide or cyanide containing process solution. (2) A pollution control device, equipment or installation used to prevent, control or minimize the risk of a cyanide release.

Back to top


  • Decommissioning - The activities conducted to treat, neutralize or otherwise manage cyanide and cyanide containing process solutions remaining in storage and production facilities in preparation for closure so that they do not present a risk to people, wildlife or the environment due to their cyanide content. Decommissioning includes decontamination of equipment, removal of residual cyanide reagents, rinsing of heap leach pads and installation of measures necessary for control or management of surface or ground water, such as pumping and treatment systems that would operate during the facility's closure period. Decommissioning does not include activities such as physical stabilization of tailings storage facilities (TSF) or heaps, revegetation of disturbed land or long-term management of seepage from leaching facilities or TSFs or environmental monitoring.
  • Decant - The removal of solution from a tailings storage facility after solids have been allowed to settle.
  • Distributor - An entity that offers cyanide for sale but which does not produce cyanide.
  • Exposure Incident - A situation where an individual has inhaled, ingested or come into contact with a potentially harmful concentration of gaseous, solid or liquid cyanide or cyanide solution.
  • Financial Assurance - A means of demonstrating that sufficient funds will be available upon cessation of operations to implement the proposed decommissioning measures.
  • Freeboard - The distance between the crest of a pond or impoundment and the level of contained solution.
  • Free Cyanide - The uncomplexed cyanide ion (CN-) and gaseous or aqueous hydrogen cyanide (HCN).
  • Full Compliance - Compliance with all Standards of Practice of the Code.

Back to top


  • Hazing Technique - A method used to discourage wildlife from coming into contact and ingesting open cyanide solutions. Examples include loud noises.
  • Heap or Dump Leaching - A process used for the recovery of gold from ore (usually low-grade ore) whereby crushed (heap leaching) or uncrushed (dump leaching) ore is laid on a slightly sloping, impervious pad and uniformly leached by the percolation of a cyanide solution trickling through the ore by gravity to a pond or other collection system.
  • High-Density Polyethylene, (HDPE) - A type of plastic used for lining leach facilities, ponds and other cyanide facilities to minimize seepage and protect soil and ground water.
  • Implementation Guidance - An interpretive document developed by the Institute describing typical measures that an operation may take to comply with the Code.
  • The Institute - The International Cyanide Management Institute.
  • Interim storage - Temporary storage of cyanide that occurs when changing carriers or transport modes. Interim storage facilities typically are integral to the transport of cyanide and involve holding individual shipments during the transport process. Under the Code, interim storage facilities are considered to be part of cyanide transport and are evaluated for certification using the Cyanide Transportation Verification Protocol. Facilities such as ports, rail yards and truck terminals are typical interim storage sites. Storage in a warehouse for subsequent distribution is not considered to be interim storage.
  • The International Cyanide Management Institute - A non-profit organization established to administer the Code.

Back to top


  • Low-Density Polyethylene, (LDPE) - A type of plastic used for lining leach facilities, ponds and other cyanide facilities to minimize seepage and protect soil and ground water.
  • mg/l - Milligrams per liter. A concentration term describing the milligrams of a constituent per liter of solution containing the constituent.
  • Mixing Zone - A predefined area within a surface water body beyond an outfall or discharge point in which the applicable jurisdiction or regulatory agency permits water quality criteria to be exceeded. Beyond the mixing zone boundary, applicable water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life must be observed.
  • Non-Compliance - The certification status of an operation that does not meet one or more of the Standards of Practice of the Code and a) it has not made a good-faith effort to comply; or b) the deficiencies identified by the auditor cannot be readily corrected; or c) the deficiencies present an immediate or substantial risk to employee or community safety, health or the environment.
  • Operations - (1) Mining Sites where gold is extracted from ore by the cyanidation process, (2) Manufacturing sites where cyanide is produced for use in gold mining, (3) A company involved in transporting cyanide for use in gold mining.
  • Overspray - Cyanide-containing heap leach solution that is carried or blown by wind off to unprotected soil rather than being applied to the heap as intended.

Back to top


  • pH - A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, with a value of 1.0 standard units being extremely acidic, 14.0 standard units being extremely alkaline and 7.0 standard units representing a neutral solution. The inverse Log10 of the concentration of the hydronium ion [H+].
  • Phreatic Surface - The interface between the saturated and unsaturated zones, commonly referred to as the ground water table.
  • Ponding - The accumulation of cyanide containing solution on the surface of a heap or dump leach.
  • Pre-Operational Certification - A type of conditional certification based on an auditor's review of plans and procedures prepared prior to an operation producing gold, producing cyanide or transporting cyanide, and which must be confirmed with a verification audit within one year of the operation conducting such activities.
  • Principles - Statements of the commitments a Code signatory makes to manage cyanide in a responsible manner.
  • Probabilistic Water Balance - A calculation of the inflows and outflows to a heap or dump leach facility or tailings storage facility and determination of the system's storage capacity that accounts for the natural variability and uncertainty of precipitation and evaporation rather than on average precipitation and evaporation rates.
  • Process Solution - (1) Solution containing cyanide that is used to leach gold, (2) barren leach solution from heap leaching, mill tailings, tailings return water and carbon stripping solution. However, solutions with concentrations of WAD cyanide below 0.5 mg/l are not considered to be process solutions.
  • Qualified Personnel - See Appropriately Qualified Personnel.
  • Reclamation/Rehabilitation - Return of mined land to original contour, use, or condition or to an alternate but environmentally stable and productive contour, use, or condition.
  • Sales Agent - An entity that offers cyanide for sale but which does not produce cyanide.
  • Self Insurance or Self Guarantee - A method of financial assurance where an operation demonstrates that it or its parent signatory company has sufficient financial strength to complete activities for decommissioning of cyanide facilities included in its decommissioning or closure plan.
  • Signatory - A gold mining company or operation using cyanide for gold recovery, a manufacturer of cyanide destined for use in gold recovery, or a transporter of cyanide used in gold recovery, or the parent corporation of such companies, that has committed to follow the Code and has paid the required fees established by the International Cyanide Management Institute.
  • Stakeholder - An individual or group with interest in the cyanide-related activities of a mine, (or cyanide manufacturer or cyanide transporter) or who are or may reasonably be affected by such activities. The term is applied differently depending on the specific nature of the issue to be addressed, and its application may require considerable flexibility and judgment. For purposes of implementing the Code and complying with its Principles and Standards of Practice, it is not necessary for an operation to identify and involve every possible individual who may be interested in its activities. It is incumbent on interested parties that are not part of the local community to identify themselves to an operation if they wish to be included in consultive processes.
  • Standards of Practice - Performance goals and objectives listed under each of the Code's Principles that must be met to comply with that Principle.
  • Substantial Compliance - The certification status of an operation that is not in full compliance with the Code but (1) has made a good-faith effort to comply with the Code and (2) has deficiencies identified by the auditor that (a) can be readily corrected and (b) do not present an immediate or substantial risk to employee or community safety, health or the environment.
  • Summary Audit Report - A brief summary of verification audit findings prepared by the lead auditor that identifies the status of an operation with respect to its compliance with the Code.
  • Supply Chain - Multiple transportation and distribution operations and activities involved in transporting cyanide from its point of manufacture to a gold mining operation or a portion thereof.
  • Surface Water(s) - Any natural water body occurring on the earth's surface, including but not limited to rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, marshes, and marine waters.

Back to top

  • Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) - An impoundment used to place mill effluent containing the leached ore in a water slurry that may contain cyanide. The solids remain in the TSF for disposal and the water may be recycled back to the mill for reuse or may be treated and discharged.
  • Thiocyanate - A chemical species, SCN-, derived from a reaction of cyanide with sulfur species.
  • Third Party - An individual or company not under the ownership or control of an operation or its parent corporation.
  • Total Cyanide - A measurement of cyanide concentration that includes all free cyanide, all WAD cyanide complexes and all strong metal cyanides including ferro-cyanide Fe(CN)6-4, ferri-cyanide Fe(CN)6-3, and portions of hexacyano cobaltate Co(CN)6-3 and those of gold and platinum. Only the related or derived compounds cyanate (CNO-) and thiocyanate (SCN-) are excluded from the definition of total cyanide.
  • Transporter - An entity that carries cyanide along a route or portion thereof from its point of production to a certified gold mine or gold production facility or which arranges for and oversees such transport.
  • Verification Audit - An audit of the cyanide management activities of an operation conducted by a third party using the verification protocol to determine compliance with the Code.
  • Verification Protocol - A set of questions to be used by a third party auditor during a verification audit to determine compliance with the Code.
  • WAD Cyanide - Those cyanide species liberated at moderate pH (pH 4.5) such as aqueous HCN and CN-, the majority of Cu, Cd, Ni, Zn, Ag complexes and others with similar low dissociation constants.
  • Warehouse - A facility where unopened containers of cyanide are stored pending distribution to gold mines, which may include a storage area where multiple shipments are accumulated prior to repackaging activities. Under the Code, a warehouse storing cyanide for use at a certified gold mine is a production facility, and must be audited for certification either as an individual Code signatory or as part of a consignor/transporter’s supply chain using the Cyanide Production Verification Protocol. For purposes of the Code, a facility for storage of cyanide at a gold mine is not considered to be a warehouse, and is audited for certification using the Gold Mining Operations Verification Protocol.



ACGIH - American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
APELL - Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level
BS - British Standards
CEFIC - European Chemical Industry Council
CFR - United States Code of Federal Regulations
DMAP - 4-dimethylaminophenol (a cyanide antidote)
ECOSOC - United Nations Economic and Social Council
EMAS - Eco-Management & Audit Scheme
HAZOP - Hazard and Operability Study
HDPE - High-Density Polyethylene
ICMI - International Cyanide Management Institute
ICOLD - International Commission on Large Dams
ISO - International Standards Organization
LDPE - Low-Density Polyethylene
LQL - Lower Quantification Limit
MSDS - Material Safety Data Sheet
NGO - Non-Governmental Organization
OECD - Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
TSF - Tailings Storage Facility
UNEP - United Nations Environment Program
WAD - Weak Acid Dissociable

Back to top