'Suffocation': Why you don't want cyanide poisoning

EMERGENCY services are at the scene of what is believed to be a cyanide incident at Orica Yarwun.

FOR THE LATEST: 'Cyanide incident': Paramedics treat patient at Orica

So what is cyanide?

Cyanide can exist as both a gas and a crystalline salt. Both forms can be lethal in high enough concentrations.

What are the health effects of cyanide?

Cyanide has "very high toxicity" and there are two types of exposure, with a "very rapid" onset of symptoms, according to Worksafe Australia.

Fear of the possibility of exposure when there has been a spill can also cause nausea.

Symptoms of mild cyanide exposure include headaches, giddiness, nausea and vomiting.

The person will find it difficult to breath, have a sense of suffocation, and a feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs.

People who have suffered from severe cyanide exposure may gasp for breath and lose consciousness.

Breathing may be "weak or absent" and cardiac arrest or death may follow.

Use of cyanide at Orica

Orica is one of the largest producers of sodium cyanide for the mining industry.

According to Orica's website, sodium cyanide is considered the most efficient extraction method of gold from ore. Sodium cyanide is used in the leaching process in most gold mining operations.

  • Solid sodium cyanide is produced to form a white crystalline briquette or 'cyanoid'. These briquettes are highly soluble and can be delivered to customers using the Orica-designed Sparge system, or in flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs).
  • Liquid sodium cyanide is delivered to mine sites via purpose-built isotanks that are suitable for road or rail transport.

A 24/7 emergency response capability, technical advice and awareness programs are all adopted at Orica,.

Orica is a global leader in the manufacture and distribution of sodium cyanide to the mining industry, so we understand that there are many logistical and operational challenges associated with its delivery and usage.