The main objective of this research was to investigate the oxidative destruction of free cyanide with hydrogen peroxide and copper-impregnated pumice as a heterogeneous catalyst. Original or copper-impregnated pumices added alone were not effective adsorbents of negatively charged cyanide ions due to incompatible surface interactions. Peroxide and original pumices added together were also ineffective in removing cyanide. However, for all of the three natural pumices tested with various particle size fractions, the use of copper-impregnated pumices and peroxide together significantly enhanced both the initial rate and extent of cyanide removal. Although copper-impregnated specific surface area was the major factor affecting the rate and extent of cyanide destruction for a particular pumice source with similar surface chemistries, the type of surface chemistry (i.e., specific functional groups) within different pumice sources also appears to be a very important factor. Lower rates and extents of cyanide removals were observed at pH 11 compared to pH 8 probably because of the negative impacts of alkaline conditions in terms of scavenging peroxide and forming more negatively charged pumice surfaces. Both the initial rate and ultimate extent of cyanide removals were generally higher at a temperature of 20 degrees C compared with those found at 10 degrees C. The use of copper-impregnated pumice as a light, cheap, readily available, natural, and porous heterogeneous catalyst either in completely mixed/suspended or fixed-bed reactor configurations may be an effective treatment technology for cyanide removal from solution. This new approach may minimize downstream metal removal problems experienced in conventional cyanide oxidation technologies. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.