Precious metal values, particularly gold and silver, are liberated from refractory, carbonate ores by adjusting the molar ratio of sulfide to total acid consumers to between about 1.2 and about 3.2 in the ore feed to a pressure oxidation process. The ore is contacted with oxygen to oxidize sulfide in the ore with at least about 65 percent of the sulfide oxidation occurring in a first oxidation zone at a temperature above about 360.degree. F. The oxidation of sulfide forms at least about 5 grams of free sulfuric acid in the first oxidation zone. The oxidation process is continued in subsequent oxidation zones. A gas stream is removed from the oxidation zones and oxygen is separated from carbon dioxide and other inerts in the gas stream and the purified oxygen is recycled to the oxidation zones.