Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

“EPA Allows Mine Company to Pursue Permits Near Alaska Bay,” an article that Becky Bohrer wrote for the Associated Press on May 12, reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of approving a permit for a new copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska. According to the article, that region produces half of the world’s sockeye salmon. The article reports that the area is also home to a fervent group of environmentalists who vehemently oppose opening a new mine in their pristine area.

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Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

“EPA Allows Mine Company to Pursue Permits Near Alaska Bay,” an article that Becky Bohrer wrote for the Associated Press on May 12, reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of approving a permit for a new copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska...

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Looking for Precious Metals? Here’s How to Search Aerial Land Maps Online

Looking for Precious Metals? Here’s How to Search Aerial Land Maps Online

Forty or 50 years ago, only people who owned airplanes could zoom over the earth, looking for sites likely to contain precious metals. If they found the location of an old church, factory, house or mine, they noted the location and then visited it on foot. Today, you can do it all online. 

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Why Recycling Metals is Socially and Environmentally Responsible

Why Recycling Metals is Socially and Environmentally Responsible

We’ve published posts in the past about why recycling gold is socially responsible. Recycled gold doesn’t have to be mined, and mining pollutes air and water and burns fossil fuels. And then there’s the fact that recycled gold is not dug from the earth by underpaid, exploited workers. Of course, it is possible that the gold that we recycle from computer motherboards, old jewelry and other sources does have a “dirty” past – because gold doesn’t have DNA, it is impossible to know whether it originally came from a mine in Africa or from ancient amulets that were stolen from the Aztecs. But even if that is the case, the gold that we recycle today is generations removed from any dirty sources and less closely linked to environmental or societal ills. 

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Unexpected Places where Precious Metals Can Be Hiding

Sometimes it is easy to see precious metals when you come across them. You see some bright, shiny gold dust in the sand at the bottom of a stream for example, or open a dresser drawer and find your late aunt’s silver dinnerware there. Or maybe you open a box in an old jewelry factory and it is full of shiny silver wires that were once used to manufacture rings and chains.

But many precious metals are not so visible to the naked eye. Some of them seem to be “hiding in plain sight,” or just plain hiding.

 Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Shown: Used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Here is a checklist of some of the hard-to-see and hard-to-remember locations where precious metals can be hiding . . .

Inside Pipes

Pipes that are used to move electrolytic fluids to or from plating tanks can have valuable deposits of precious metals inside, where you can’t see them. Depending on what those plating tanks have been used for – for gold plating, for example – those deposits can be well worth recycling.

In Worthless-Looking Used Industrial Mesh

When mesh made of palladium and other precious metals has outlived its life on the production line, it looks worthless – like discolored powder. But the fact is that even worthless-looking quantities of used mesh often contain quantities of precious metals that are valuable.

In Chemicals

If you looked at chemicals that are used in photo processing, for example, you would never know that they contain quantities of silver that can be profitably recycled. You can’t see the silver, but it is certainly there.

In Industrial Waste and Sludge

 Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: mining concentrates that could contain  silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

How could something with an unglamorous name like “sludge” be worth much of anything? But it can, if it has accumulated as a result of gold or silver-plating operations. If you send in a small sample of sludge to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we can quickly tell you whether it contains gold, silver, or another precious metal that can be recycled.

In Unprocessed Deposits of Mine Ore and Sand

If you have visited an old gold, silver, copper or coal mine that is no longer in use, chances are that you have seen quantities of unprocessed mine waste. If it’s lying there unprocessed it must be worthless, right? Well not necessarily. Take copper mining. Anode slimes that result from copper mining often contains small amounts of gold, silver, platinum or other metals that can be recycled, even if those metals were not the primary product that the mine was extracting from the earth.

We’re Experts at the Unexpected

After 32 years of turning scrap into gold, we’ve seen it all from our customers across a wide variety of industries and manufacturing sectors. Send us a sample and let us tell you’ve got profitable precious metals hiding where you least expect it. Click here to start the process.

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As Gold Supplies Dwindle, Demand for Recyclable Gold Will Remain High

“The World Is Running Out of Gold,” a post that Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan wrote for Gizmodo, reports that most of the extractable gold that occurs in nature has already been mined.

Here’s what Campbell-Dollaghan reports . . .

 Photo of a miner with a gold nugget used for everything from jewelry to dental scrap to circuit boards, which can all be recycled by Specialty Metals.
  • Mining companies are already digging deeper and deeper to find gold. Many of the places in the world where it lies close to the surface are found in arctic areas where mining is prohibitively difficult and costly.
  • Gold is getting scarcer. In one instance, a mining company had to blast away 100 metric tons of rock to extract one ounce of gold.
  • New finds are rarer. Back in 1995, 22 gold deposits were found that contained at least two million ounces of gold. There were only six such discoveries in 2010, and none in 2012.
  • The gold that’s in your cellphone might be the same gold that was in an ancient Roman or Greek coin. It might have gotten smelted into a bar a few hundred years ago, then used in jewelry, and finally used to make your iPhone or Android. Most of the gold that has ever been mined has been used over and over again.

Yet People Continue to Toss Gold Away

As we reporting in a recent post, as many as 89% of old smartphones are simply tossed by their owners, who don’t want to take the trouble to recycle them. Similarly, people toss old desktop computers, televisions, radios and other devices with printed circuit boards that contain small quantities of recyclable gold.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it? As gold supplies dwindle, people just toss it away.

If you have a quantity of old items that contain gold – from phones to jewelry to used gold sputtering targets – remember that they could be worth more than you think, even if they only contain small amounts of gold. Call us at 800-426-2344. With worldwide supplies of gold dwindling, the demand for this most fabled of precious metals is not about to go away soon.

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Can You Still Stake a Claim to Riches by Prospecting for Gold?

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold
...
                     -“The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service, 1907

 Photo of modern gold prospector panning for gold to send to Specialty Metals for smelting and refining.

You remember the great gold rush of 1849. Gold fever gripped America. Tens of thousands of adventurous young men called Forty-Niners headed west to pan for gold in the rivers of California and up north in Alaska and the Yukon. Historians will tell you that gold was one of the forces that impelled the western expansion of our country.

When I think about that era in American history, several thoughts come to mind. First, I reflect that only a handful of those Forty-Niners were rewarded with great riches. But I also recall that most of those fellows were armed with pretty rudimentary equipment, like the small baskets they used to pan for gold in rivers and pickaxes that they used to dig gold granules from rock faces and river beds.

Isn’t there a chance that modern equipment of some kind will let today’s amateur gold-hunters scoop up some of the gold that the Forty-Niners left behind 160 years ago?

Modern Prospecting Equipment

It turns out that a number of companies are now making and selling prospecting equipment that the Forty-Niners could only have dreamed of back in their day. Can this equipment make you rich? It seems possible, but I think that the real point of prospecting today is probably to engage in a fun and exciting hobby – sort of like looking for gold with a metal detector, only more adventurous, since prospectors go to remote locales, not beaches or city parks.

What kind of modern equipment can you buy? Here’s a selection that you’ll find online at The Rosewind Mining Company:

  • A Jobe gas-powered gold vacuum ($424.95) – This small 15-pound vacuum includes a six-foot vacuum hose and a tool that lets you suck silt and sand out of streambeds and crevices. It gathers the silt in a large plastic tub, where you can take a close look for gold nuggets.
  • The Gold Cube Deluxe Gold Concentrator ($379.95) – This device uses G-force technology to separate the gold from silt and sand and other gold mining concentrates. It processes up to 1,000 pounds an hour of gold-bearing material.
  • Sand scoops, tweezers, magnifying glasses, pickaxes, and panning kits (prices vary) – Low-tech is fun. The panning kits could be great for keeping your kids busy while you vacuum in the big nuggets that will pay their college costs, right?
  • Gold Pokes ($4.59) – They’re traditional cowhide pouches that Forty-Niners used to carry their nuggets around. They make a big fashion statement at a very low price.
  • Claim signs ($1.75 - $4.70) – You’ll want to keep these on hand in case you want to stake a claim. Even if you never find gold, they are great conversation-starters.
  • 12-volt pumps ($22.95-$99.95) – These little honeys, powered by car batteries, can move a lot of water or gold-bearing silt from one place to another. You can also buy cables that let you power them right from your car’s power outlet.
  • Prospecting gloves, sunglasses, hats and other apparel (prices vary) – With the right purchases, you can create just the right prospector look for yourself. The hats have big brims and fabric that covers your neck, so you won’t get sunburned when you’re out there for hours pulling in millions of dollars’ worth of gold nuggets.

Keep Our Phone Number Handy While You Pan for Gold

As a modern prospector, you have another advantage that the Forty-Niners never dreamed about. It’s your cell phone. You can use it to call America's best gold refiners, Specialty Metals, at 800-426-2344 and arrange to send us samples of the bright shiny stuff you’ve been pulling in.

Have a fun time if you decide to take up the prospecting hobby, and good luck.

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Can You Extract Gold from Black Sand?

 

Can You Extract Gold from Black Sand?

If you live in an area with large deposits of black-colored sand, are you sitting on tons of gold that you can refine? Or if you work for a mining company that pulverizes minerals and ends up with quantities of black sand, it is likely to contain quantities of gold that are worth extracting?

 Image of black sand containing gold that can be extracted, smelted and refined by Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

Lots of myths and misunderstandings surround the question of black sand, as you will discover if you search for the term on Google. But before you assume that your black sand is worth its weight in gold – or even a tiny percentage of that – here are some questions to answer.

What Is the Source?

Black sand can be sitting on a beach. It can be found in “placer deposits” of other minerals that occur naturally in streams, river beds or as veins in rock faces. It can be a byproduct of mines that extract primarily copper, zinc, or another metal from the earth.

So, what is in your black sand and does it contain gold? There is no way to be sure without sending a sample to a qualified gold refinery.

If Gold Is There, Can It Be Profitably Be Extracted?

The answer is, it depends on the kind of black sand that you have – if it does contain gold. If gold is present in small nuggets or flakes that are not physically bound to minerals, they can sometimes be separated by sifting or using a device called a shaker table or other specialized machinery. Do you remember the Gold Rush prospectors who panned for gold in streams? They were engaging in just this process.

If gold is physically bound to minerals, it can sometimes be separated by the application of heat in a smelting operation. At other times, the only way to separate the gold is to immerse quantities of black sand in chemical baths – a process called wet chemical extraction. The more complex the separation process, the higher the cost becomes of extracting each troy ounce of gold.

Is It Worth Extracting Gold from Your Black Sand?

Again, the answer is, it depends. If only a tiny amount of gold exists in a large quantity of black sand, the cost of extracting it can be much higher than the value of the gold itself. If there is a lot of gold that can be extracted using sifting or other relatively inexpensive processes, that could be an option worth considering.

The bottom line? If you’re sitting on a quantity of black sand of any kind, start out by sending a sample to a qualified testing service. Consider calling Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Georgius Agricola (1494-1555), Father of Modern Metallurgy

If you’re involved in mining, smelting, refining – or any process that has to do with metals – you’re using techniques developed by a Georgius Agricola, a German scientist who is often called the father of metallurgy. His book, De Re Metallica (“On the Nature of Metals”) was published in Latin in 1556, a year after he died. Georgius described techniques of mining and smelting in such a practical way that the book remained a standard handbook for nearly 200 years.

This guy was ahead of his time. In fact, all of us in the metals business are still doing a lot of the things that he wrote about, including . . .

 16th Century Mining Woodcut from Georgius Agricolas 'De re metallica libri XII'

16th Century Mining Woodcut from Georgius Agricolas 'De re metallica libri XII'

  • Smelting ores to extract the metals they contain.
  • Finding veins of precious metals like gold and silver in rock and underground.
  • Separating gold from silver, lead from gold or silver, and silver from copper.
  • Surveying mine sites and safely digging mine shafts.
  • Selecting the right tools and machines to extract ore from mines.
  • Extracting, crushing and washing ores from mining concentrates.

Some Trivia about De Re Metallica

Agricola’s real name was Georg Bauer, which means “George Farmer” in German. But he used the name Georgius Agricola – which means the same thing in Latin - when he published his book. Back in the sixteenth century, Latin was the language of scientific discourse.

In 1912, the first English edition of De Re Metallica was published in London. One of the translators was none other than Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer who later became president of the United States. You can still buy a copy of his translation in a modern edition from Dover Books.

If you’re involved in mining or recycling precious metals, Georgius Agricola still has some lessons to teach you, even though he died way back in 1555.

It’s all part of the colorful history of precious metals recycling. Thanks for joining us for this little history lesson today.

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How Palladium and Platinum Refiners Remove Precious Metals from Liquids

Today’s post is going to sound a little bit like a chemistry lesson, because chemicals are used to recycle platinum and palladium from liquids where they reside.

Most of the time here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we use heat to extract precious metals. This is one time when that’s not the case.

How Do Palladium and Platinum Get into Liquids?

 Photo of skids of drums filled used manufacturing fluids containing traces of precious metals that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • As a byproduct of mining operations – Acidic baths are often used to leach copper, nickel, uranium and other metals from ores. In many cases, the acidic liquid that is left after processing contains trace elements of other precious metals too, including platinum, palladium or even gold.
  • From plating baths – If your operations include tank-plating palladium or platinum onto other metals, your used solutions can still contain valuable quantities of those metals. In some cases, as much as 10 ounces of metal has been recovered from one cubic foot of used plating solutions. That’s a lot of valuable precious metal.
  • From solutions left over from platinum recycling processes – If you employ wet chemical methods to extract palladium, platinum and rhodium from recycled catalytic converters, your used acids and washing liquids could contain recyclable quantities of precious metals.

How Are Precious Metals Extracted from Liquid Media?

It all comes down to chemistry. First, we analyze your liquids to determine the quantities of precious metals that they contain. Next, we introduce the right chemicals into your liquids in the right way – under safe, monitored laboratory conditions, of course. The results can be amazing, as ounces of palladium and platinum precipitate out of liquids that looked like little more than opaque sludge.

Incidentally, Dow Chemical and other companies manufacture a number of high-quality chemicals that are used in these operations. All processing is done in the most advanced, environmentally respectful conditions that comply with all laws.

Today’s Practical Tip . . .

Don’t let those metals go unextracted, because they are worth a great deal of money. Call us at 800-426-2344; tell us what liquids you have. We’ll help you set up a plan to analyze your liquids, extract precious metals from them – and put dollars in your pocket.


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Why It Pays to Have Mining Ores Analyzed for Precious Metals

If you’re with a mining company that extracts just about anything from the earth – coal, zinc, gypsum - it can be a very good idea to send us samples of your ores or other mined substances. We can analyze them and let you know whether they contain silver, gold or other precious metals that can be profitably extracted, smelted, and refined.

Looking for Secondary Precious Metals: A Case Study

 Shown: mining concentrates which could contain silver, gold and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: mining concentrates which could contain silver, gold and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Hudbay Minerals operates two large mines in northern Ontario, Canada: the 777 Mine and the Trout Lake Mine. Both mines extract primarily copper and zinc, but Hudbay is always careful to profit from quantities of silver and gold that can be found in its ores.

According to company data, Hudbay retrieved 91,258 ounces of silver and gold from its mining operations in 2013. That’s a small quantity in comparison to the amount of copper (about 30,000 tons) and zinc (about 87,000 tons) that come out of Hudbay’s mines. But with gold and silver prices high, Hudbay is not about to let precious metals and precious dollars slip away.

You shouldn’t either. If your business deals with ores – either ores that you mine or acquire from other sources for processing – you should find out whether they contain secondary quantities of silver or gold. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we’ll be pleased to tell you how it works.

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