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We Will Be Here Tomorrow . . . Be sure to entrust your precious metals to us

We learned that Republic Metals Corporation filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on November 2nd. Republic, one of the largest gold and silver refineries in the United States, was one of our competitors.

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Looking for Gold and Silver in Collectible Knives

Looking for Gold and Silver in Collectible Knives

People are collecting folding pocket knives, hunting knives, highly stylized custom knives crafted by skilled artisans, ancient knives, and knives that fall into other niches. The question is, do any of them contain silver or gold? The short answer is yes, they do and if you take a close look at an unusual knife, it could contain small decorations and “extras” that are made of silver or even gold or platinum. 

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Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Last year we published a list of the most popular blog posts that we ran in 2014 – the ones that had been viewed by the most people and that had generated the greatest number of comments. We’ve created a different list of best posts this year. They are posts that contain the kind of useful information that can quickly put a lot of money in your pocket – maybe even in time for the holidays. 

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Become a Rich Environmentalist by Recycling Precious Metals

Become a Rich Environmentalist by Recycling Precious Metals

When you send us old catalytic converters, sputtering targets, dental scrap or other items to be processed, we recover precious metals from them that were mined from the earth years ago. Those same metals will then be reused in new applications that can include jewelry making, medical technologies, electronics manufacturing, and many more. What could be more efficient?

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How Business Brokers Can Make Windfall Profits in Gold and other Precious Metals

How Business Brokers Can Make Windfall Profits in Gold and other Precious Metals

...Yet there is a compelling reason why business brokers should slow down a little and take a close look at the businesses that they are listing for sale: Many businesses contain sources of gold and other precious metals that can be profitably recycled with a qualified precious metals refinery like ours....

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What Is the Mohs Scale?

If you’re familiar with precious metals, you already know that the purity of gold is measured in karats. But do you know that gold is also rated on the Mohs Scale, where it ranks very low?

But don’t start to worry about that low ranking of any gold you own. The Mohs Scale is a measure of gold’s hardness and scratch-resistance, not an indication of its dollar value.

But what is this other scale that is used to classify metals? Let’s explore.

What Is the Mohs Scale?

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

The Mohs Scale, which is sometimes called the Mohs Scale of Mineral Harness, was invented in 1812 by a German geologist named Friedrich Mohs, who was trying to create a system to compare the hardness of different minerals. He knew, for example, that talc was an extremely soft mineral. But was it softer than gypsum, another very soft mineral?

Because Mohs saw the value of having a way to compare the specific softness of different minerals, he decided that he could contrast their resistance to being scratched. When he tried to scratch talc and gypsum, for example, he determined that less force was required to scratch talc, so talc appeared below gypsum on his new hardness scale.

What mineral is at the very top of the Mohs Scale? As you probably guessed, it is the diamond, which is pure carbon, and extremely resistant to being scratched. It rates a 10.

Where Do Metals Fall on the Mohs Scale?

In other words, which metals are easiest to scratch, and which are the hardest? Here’s a rundown.

  • Extremely soft (rating of 1.5 on the Mohs Scale) - lead and tin
  • Very soft (2.5 - 3) - magnesium, gold, silver, aluminum, zinc, copper
  • Moderately soft (3.5 - 4) - iron and nickel
  • Moderately hard (4.5) - platinum and steel
  • Very hard (5 - 7) - palladium, beryllium, molybdenum, titanium, manganese, rhodium, uranium
  • Extremely hard (7+) - tungsten, chromium

The History of Hardness

For thousands of years, metals have been mixed together – alloyed – to create a harder metal. In ancient times, that quest for hardness led to the creation of bronze (a mixture of tin and copper), which was created to be a harder version of copper that could be used in weapons and tools. Later on, we have other alloys like brass, pewter and steel.

So in many cases, the aim in creating alloys has been to add hardness to a metal that was already in widespread use. In other words, most modern alloys have been created to improve their rating on the Mohs Scale.

Related Posts:

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What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?
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A Commercial Real Estate Agent’s Guide to Finding Precious Metals in Buildings

If you’re a real estate broker or developer who deals in industrial or commercial properties, you don’t want to overlook precious metals that could be hiding in the properties that you have bought or represent.

Shown: business for sale sign, which could mean there are valuable precious metals waiting to be recycled inside. If you're a commercial real estate broker, contact Specialty Metals today.

Here is a checklist of places where precious metals could be found in the properties you are working with.

  • Batches of unused welding or brazing supplies – Welding rods and wires often contain quantities of silver and other precious metals that can be profitably reclaimed. Even if you only have scrap pieces of leftover welding rods, they can be valuable.
  • Drums of unused industrial chemicals – They are often worthless. Recycling them responsibly could be costly and difficult. Yet depending on what they were used for, they could contain quantities of precious metals that can be reclaimed.
  • Metals shavings, powder, small bits and other scrap – If metal was being machined in a facility that you have acquired, even the shavings that have piled up under lathes and milling machines could be valuable. Unless you have them analyzed, you will never know.
  • Sludge, sand and industrial byproducts – Depending on the type of processes that were taking place in the facility you own, seemingly worthless materials could contain precious metals.
  • Tanks, pipes, electrodes, and filters that were used in plating processes – If a factory was involved in electroplating, silver or even gold could be recyclable from older components.
  • Catalytic converters that were attached to old diesel or gas engines – They can contain quantities of platinum, palladium, rhodium and other valuable precious metals.
  • Chemicals or supplies that were used in photoprocessing or x-ray processes – Even in a time when the use of traditional films and papers is dwindling, supplies that are left over from those processes are worth recycling because they contain silver.
  • Older computers and electrical devices of all kinds – Older desktop and other computers and electronics, for example, contain gold that can be worth reclaiming.
  • Old gauges, safety cut-offs, and monitoring devices – They are lying around collecting dust in many old factories. But depending on what their purpose was, they could contain valuable components like thermocouples that contain precious metals.
  • Medical testing devices – Old x-ray, MRI, and other medical devices that have outlived their usefulness can still contain lots of valuable metals, including gold, silver and even platinum. They might look like they should be headed to the scrapyard. But don’t send them there until you know about the metals they contain.

Want to Know More?

We are here to help you understand where precious metals can be found. For a no-obligation conversation with our specialists, call us at 800-426-2344.

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The Stampede from Desktops to Laptops to Tablets Leaves Gold Behind

You will get a lot of results if you search for the phrase “Can a tablet replace my laptop?” on Google or Bing. The question has recently been tackled in The New York Times, in PC World, on CNET, and dozens of other places. If you read those articles, you will find that opinions vary. Some reviewers feel that the time is not yet right to discard laptops in favor of tablets. Others write about new laptop/tablet “convertible” hybrids from HP, Samsung, and other makers that are essentially tablets with keyboards that either detach or fold cleverly out of the way.

Image of woman choosing tablet over laptop, which symbolizes the computer shift that will result in more recycling of old laptops for the precious metals they contain.

Computers are always evolving, and similar questions have arisen in the past. Ten years ago, it was “Can a laptop really replace a desktop machine?” And we all know how that question got resolved. So who could believe that laptops are the pinnacle of computer development, never to be replaced by something newer?

When new kinds of computers gain widespread acceptance, older machines get tossed and recycled in large numbers. Just peek at the place where electronics are recycled in your town or city – perhaps in your town dump. On a recent visit to my town’s, I noticed that not only desktops, but also laptops and other types of escrap were starting to pile up. And if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that laptops contain valuable quantities of gold and other precious metals that can be worth reclaiming from their circuit boards, connectors, IC chips and other parts, using a top precious metals recycler.

Opportunities to Profit from the Trend

Because used laptops contain only a few dollars’ worth of gold and other precious metals, it takes a large number of them to add up to much – plus, there is the challenge of dismantling them to extract the parts that contain gold like circuit boards and contacts, pins and meltables.

Yet the fact remains that a very large number of laptops are about to be discarded in the coming years. If you can start a program to collect them, the dollars could really add up. If you are one of the following organizations, this could be a good time to start collecting laptops for later recycling . . .

  • If you are an electronics retailer, consider ramping up your trade-in program.
  • If you are an electronics manufacturer or wholesaler, provide incentives for retailers to accept trade-ins and return them to you.
  • If you are a church, charity or school, consider conducting a drive to collect laptops that are no longer needed.
  • If you are a hospital or healthcare facility that is about to replace older laptops and equipment that embodies them, start your own in-house recycling program.

Don’t Let Recycling Dollars Slip through Your Fingers

As the old saying goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Since each old laptop contains many pennies’ worth of gold, why toss them away? Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more about profitably recycling computer scrap.

Related Posts:

Where Is the Gold Hiding in Your Old Computers?
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What Precious Metals Are Contained in Piles of Old Desktop Computers?


Why You Need the Best Precious Metals Refinery to Recycle Your Silver Salts

Silver salts and compounds are used in an unusually wide selection of products that include pottery glazes, antiseptics, photographic materials, and more. Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners will be pleased to test and recycle your silver salts and pay you for the silver that they contain. But before you call us to discuss what you have, let’s answer a few basic questions about this very versatile family of chemical compounds.

Image of silver nitrate crystals, one type of silver salts that can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals. Image Credit: By W. Oelen (http://woelen.homescience.net/science/index.html) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image of silver nitrate crystals, one type of silver salts that can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals. Image Credit: By W. Oelen (http://woelen.homescience.net/science/index.html) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What Kind of Silver Compounds Can You Recycle with Us?

  • Silver bromide and bromides – These yellow-colored, insoluble soft salts are widely used in photographic film and materials and their manufacturing. You can find them in developing solutions, film, and light-sensitive papers. If you have reserves of chemicals from a company that manufactured those materials or if your company once did, you could have a quantity of those compounds that is worth recycling.
  • Silver chloride and chlorides - These white-colored crystalline solids are most commonly found in silver chloride electrodes that are used in the production of photographic film and materials and in other industrial processes. Yet the compound has many other applications too. It is used for glazing pottery, coating optics, and even as an antimicrobial agent that is used in bandages and commercial deodorants. If you were involved in the production of any of those products, or have acquired a company that was, you could have quantities of silver chloride.
  • Silver nitrate – This compound has a colorful history. It was a favorite of medieval alchemists, who thought that it might be able to turn compounds of base metals into gold. That idea probably arose because silver nitrate dissolves the silver in gold/silver alloys, leaving only the gold behind. (Albertus Magnus observed that happening and wrote about it in the 13th century.) In the centuries that followed, silver nitrate was put to many uses as a disinfectant. At one time, eye drops that contained it were routinely dripped into the eyes of newborn babies to prevent infections. It was also widely used to prevent infection in wounds. Those practices largely disappeared with the development of modern antibiotics, but silver nitrate is still used in topical antiseptics like chlorhexidine. If you have been involved in the production of antiseptics or have acquired a company that was, you could own valuable quantities of silver nitrate.

How Much Are Your Silver Salts Worth?

Because silver salts contain different quantities of silver, we need to test them before we can tell you how much silver they contain. If you have a quantity of them and would like a top silver refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to test them, please give us a call at 800-426-2344.

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Do You Have Undiscovered Precious Metals in Your Organization? 11 Questions to Help You Decide

Are gold, platinum, palladium, silver, and other valuable metals “hiding” in your place of business? Whether you are a factory, a scrap yard, a hospital – or any other kind of organization – here are 11 questions that can help you know.

Image of businessperson searching for undiscovered precious metals that Specialty Metals can help refine profitably.
  1. Do you heat materials up or cool them down?
  2. Do you have older electronic equipment of any kind that you are about to discard?
  3. Do you use equipment that remotely monitors electrical activity?
  4. Do you remove pollutants from the air?
  5. Does your company engage in welding, brazing, or soldering?
  6. Do you apply platings of any kind to surfaces?
  7. Do you currently process photos or x-rays, or have you done so in the past?
  8. Do you have quantities of older metal-plated items of any kind, such as jewelry or silver-plated cutlery?
  9. Do you have a fleet of vehicles that you no longer use?
  10. Do you have quantities of older military surplus electronics, vehicles, armaments, or other gear
  11. Do you have quantities of appliances that you no longer need or are about to replace, such as stoves, air conditioners, water heaters, or furnaces?

Did You Answer Yes to Any of the Questions?

If you did, you should call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 so we can help you recoup the value of the precious metals that you have on hand.

Question by question, here are some reasons why your Yes answers indicate that you could have precious metals . . .

  1. If you heat or cool materials during manufacturing processes, you have equipment that monitors that activity remotely. Those devices use thermocouples, which contain quantities of precious metals.
  2. Older electronic equipment contains printed circuit boards that contain quantities of gold and other precious metals.
  3. Equipment or devices that monitor electronic activity, such as IP catheters, can contain platinum, palladium, and other precious metals.
  4. If your operations remove pollutants from the air, especially after combustion, you could be using catalytic convers that contain precious metals.
  5. Used or unused quantities of welding, brazing, or soldering supplies contain silver and other precious metals.
  6. Any materials or equipment that are used in plating – from old sputtering targets to the sludge that accumulates at the bottom of plating tanks – contain quantities of gold, silver and other precious metals.
  7. New and used photographic films, papers, developing fluids and other supplies contain silver.
  8. Old jewelry and silver-plated items can contain valuable quantities of gold, silver, platinum, and other precious metals.
  9. Older vehicles contain gold in printed circuit boards, palladium in catalytic converters, and other precious metals that you can recycle.
  10. Military surplus items of many kinds – especially electronic devices – contain printed circuit boards and other components that can contain gold and other precious metals.
  11. Appliances of many kinds contain thermocouple wires that contain platinum and other precious metals.

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Is it Worth Recycling Smartphones?

How much precious metal is contained in smartphones? Is it worth sending them to us for recycling?

These recent statistics, reported by Megan Anderle in The Guardian on May 1, 2014, document the fact that smartphones contain quantities of precious metals. For every million smartphones that are recycled, these quantities of metals can be reclaimed:

Photo of old smartphones that contain gold, silver and palladium that can be recycled profitably in large quantities by Specialty Metals.

When you use those statistics as a guideline against current prices per troy ounce, you find that every smartphone contains about $1.40 worth of gold, about $.58 worth of palladium, and about $.20 worth of silver. (Of course, it costs money to reclaim those metals from smartphones and other electronics scrap too.)

How Many Smartphones Can You Collect and Recycle?

That’s not very much metal per phone. Yet Anderle also cites these statistics:

  • 89% of mobile devices are not recycled by their users, just tossed
  • In 2012, Sprint customers recycled 44% of their phones, Verizon customers recycled 28%, and AT&T customers recycled 11.5%
  • In 2013, Verizon launched a new recycling program and app that got 31% of its customers to recycle their phones

Is There an Opportunity for You in Smartphone Recycling?

If you would like to reclaim a significant amount of money from old smartphones, you will have to collect an awful lot of them. But can you do just that – collect a large number of older phones? Perhaps you can.

  • If you are a charity, perhaps you can start an outreach program to get people to donate their phones to you. As noted in the statistics above, 89% of mobile phone users toss their devices. Perhaps they can toss them into recycling bins that your organization places in stores, malls, before town halls, and elsewhere. If you spread your campaign over a large geographical area, you could be able to collect enough phones to raise a lot of money for your organization.
  • If you want to start a second or primary business, you might consider buying used cellphones and then recycling them. As Anderle notes in her Guardian article, cellphone companies’ buy-back recycling programs often present a number of hassles for customers, who have typically had to get their returns pre-approved, then print out labels to use when shipping their phones in, then wait weeks until the payment for their phones is credited to their accounts. If you can streamline that process – perhaps by letting customers sell you their used phones via a walk-in, no-hassle process – you might be able to amass enough smartphones to generate a good income.

When and if you do, contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. We’ll be pleased to help you dig out the dollars that are hiding in a quantity of used cellphones and other escrap.

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Why Big Dollars Can Be Found in Scrap Aerospace Parts

Why is a scrapped airplane worth a lot more than a scrapped automobile?

Chances are you answered that question with a smart reply like, “Well, isn’t an airplane a whole lot bigger than a car?”

Shown: Aerospace Scrap like this, which includes platinum, palladium, silver cadmium and gold, can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals

Shown: Aerospace Scrap like this, which includes platinum, palladium, silver cadmium and gold, can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals

If that was your answer, you’d be right. Or partially right, anyhow. Because you see, sheer size isn’t the only issue. Pound-for-pound, aerospace scrap is worth more than automotive scrap. And here are some of the reasons why . . .

Airplanes – Even Older Airplanes – Contain More Exotic Alloys and Compounds than Cars Do

For example, they contain silver cadmium in switches and relays, mercury and chromium in gauges, platinum in thermocouples, and a lot more precious metals that you will rarely find in scrapped cars.

Precious Metals are Extensively Used in Aircraft Engines

Platinum and palladium are used because they are stable, corrosion-resistant and durable. You’ll find them and other precious metals in fuel nozzles, heat exchangers, turbine vanes, and elsewhere. You won’t find those materials widely used in automotive engines, unless you’re looking at exotic racing cars. According to some estimates, a used modern jet engine that is being scrapped should contain more than $15,000 worth of precious metals.

Modern Airplanes Contain Many More Circuit Boards than Cars Do

A modern automobile contains gold-bearing printed circuit boards in the engine monitoring module, the GPS unit, the sound system, and a handful of other locations. In contrast, planes have gold-bearing printed circuit boards just about everywhere – in radios and communication devices, navigation systems, altimeters and other gauges and displays, computers, and dozens of other applications that don’t exist on cars. If you ever see an airplane cockpit being dismantled, you will be surprised by the number and size of electronic components that are found there.

How to Mine the Value from Aviation Scrap

It requires specialized knowledge and technology to identify and recycle precious metals like gold and platinum from aeronautical scrap. To learn how to reclaim the most dollars from aerospace scrap that you have on hand call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners today at 800-426-2344.

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Extracting Gold from Ceramic IC Chips

If you’ve ever disassembled a computer, you know what printed circuit boards look like. They’re usually green wafers that are embossed with patterns of metallic paths that connect various components that sit on their surfaces. At their edges, you’ve noticed rows of gold-plated “fingers” that serve as points of attachment. So with printed circuit boards, it’s pretty easy to see where the gold resides.

Photo of scrap electronic ceramics CPU chips sent to Specialty Metals to be refined and recycled for their gold, platinum, silver and palladium.

It’s not quite as easy to spot the value in the ceramic integrated circuit (IC) chips that are found in computers, especially in the form of large central processing units. You know them, because they are often inscribed with the name of a manufacturer like Intel or Fujitsu. But what are they exactly? Because the gold and circuitry are sealed up inside, all you can see are the pins or contact points on the outside that allow the chip to be snapped into a contact block on a larger printed circuit board.

Why Are Ceramics Used?

Integrated circuitry is encased in ceramic for several reasons. First, ceramic can protect delicate circuitry from damage caused by impacts, dust and oxidation, and contamination caused by oil deposited by fingerprints. Also, ceramic makes an ideal protective sheath for microchips and micro circuit boards because it doesn’t conduct electricity.

If Ceramic IC Chips Are So Strong, How Can they Be Recycled?

Gold is usually extracted from ceramic IC chips in two steps:

  1. The ceramic casing is mechanically removed from the outside of the chip. This often involves manual work to physically split the ceramic “shell” of the chip and expose the microchip within.
  2. The inner chip is immersed in chemical baths to separate the gold from surrounding plastics and other materials.

How Much Gold Is Contained in a Ceramic IC Chip?

We wish we could give you a definite answer to that question. Older IC chips generally contain a bit more gold than newer ones. But again, that is a generalization. If you have a quantity of ceramic IC chips that you are interested in recycling, give us a call at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to tell you whether it is worth refining your chips and set up a plan that can help you turn them into dollars.

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What Precious Metals Are Contained in Piles of Old Desktop Computers?


What Precious Metals Are Contained in Piles of Old Desktop Computers?

If you are a school system, a city recycling center or a hospital, chances are that you have quantities of old scrap desktop computers – maybe several dumpsters full of them – that you would like to recycle.

Shown: scrap computers with circuit boards containing gold, platinum and other precious metals that can be recycled by Specialty Metals.

What do they contain? We just found a terrific breakdown of the materials that old desktops contain – everything from iron to plastics to gold and other precious metals in the printed circuit boards and connectors. It was created by the now-defunct Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) back in 1996. That year, you will recall, was in the golden age of desktop use.

Composition of typical Desktop Computer weighing ~27 kg.

According to MCC, "the following table presents the composition of a desktop computer plus a CRT screen in 1996. More than 80% of the weight consists of silica (glass), plastics, iron and aluminium. Precious and scarce materials account for only a small percentage of the total weight. Nevertheless, the concentration of such metals, e.g. gold, is higher in a desktop computer than found in naturally occurring mineral ore." (Source: Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC). 1996. Electronics Industry Environmental Roadmap. Austin, TX: MCC)

Why Recycling Precious Metals Should Be Done by Professionals

Hobbyists seem to love to recycle precious metals. Perhaps they believe that they can earn a lot of money in their spare time.

Image of Specialty Metals refiner wearing protective gear urging consumers to leave precious metals recycling to the professionals.

We wonder why that is. As far as we know, most hobbyists don’t build nuclear reactors, oil refineries, or particle accelerators in their basements. What is it about refining precious metals that attracts them? It must be the word “precious.” They seem to believe that they can not only have fun, but also generate a lucrative second income by tinkering with platinum, silver or gold refining.

In that tinkering, many of them are exposing themselves, their families and even their neighbors to considerable risk. Only a very few forms of extracting and reclaiming precious metals are safe for hobbyists. The majority of extraction methods pose the risk of getting a chemical or thermal burn, being exposed to poisonous gases, causing a fire or explosion, or releasing harmful pollutants into the soil, water or air.

Why are these hobbyists taking such risks?

Frightening Videos on YouTube

If you want to get an idea of the dangerous work that hobbyists are doing, simply go to YouTube and search for videos about precious metals. While some videos show hobbyists engaged in safe pastimes like pulling the gold pins from printed circuit boards, a lot of them show hobbyists doing extremely dangerous things to reclaim precious metals.

It’s scary. You’ll see a hobbyist heating microcircuit boards with a propane torch, which releases dangerous gases. You’ll see another hobbyist plunging printed circuit boards into a tub of acid that seems to be sitting in a corner of his basement. Another hobbyist seems to have constructed a tank, filled with pieces of metal screening that are connected to a car battery, where he extracts silver from recycled fluids of some kind. There are also several videos that show an edgy-looking young woman who seems to be torturing old computers to death by tearing them apart and attacking their components with pliers and soldering torches.

It’s all very dangerous, which is why refining precious metals is a job that is best left to professionals. If you want to avoid serious illness or injury, that is. And of course, you want to do that. So the message is, don’t mess with dangerous recycling technologies at home.

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On Earth Day, Let’s Agree to Recycle Metals Responsibly

When you think about handling and recycling metals responsibly, chances are that you think about environmental laws. If you’re complying with all federal and state laws regarding disposal of materials, then you’ve got your bases covered, right?

This Earth Day, Specialty Metals wants to remind you to recycle your precious metals like silver cadmium responsibly.

Well, not completely. Obeying laws is wonderful, but we need to be vigilant, not merely compliant, to be sure we are not doing environmental damage.

Silver Cadmium: A Case in Point

Silver cadmium is an alloy that is widely used in welding and in the fabrication of electrical components. It conducts electricity well, but its greatest value resides in its usefulness in brazing. When silver and cadmium are combined to make brazing rods, the result is a product that has a relatively low melting point, making it easy to work with.

The problem? When silver cadmium materials are used in brazing, they release noxious gases that can put your employees’ health in jeopardy. Whether you’ve got robotic operations taking place or your employees are doing the brazing at close range, they’re in danger unless your facilities are not just adequately, but aggressively ventilated. Adhering to environmental laws is a good baseline but if you really want to protect people, you’ve got to go above and beyond to make sure they are safe.

Recycling Silver Cadmium Responsibly

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Then we come to the issue of recycling silver cadmium. It is a big concern. When you send your unused quantities of silver cadmium to be recycled and refined – those unused ends of welding rods and wire, electrical contacts or silver cadmium strips or powder, depending on your industry – you want to be sure that they will be recycled responsibly. When those materials are smelted and refined, they again release poisonous gases that can harm people and the environment too.

Many precious metals recycling companies will accept silver cadmium for refining and recycling. But before you use their services, we’d like you to be aware that Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, the best secondary refiner of precious metals in the US, is one of the very few refiners in the world that is fully equipped to recycle silver cadmium scrap safely and responsibly.

Earth Day is a good time for all of us who work with metals to renew our commitment to the environment. We’ve made a lot of progress in improving the quality of our air, water, and soil. Future generations are counting on us to keep up the good environmental fight today.

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If You Use a Metal Detector, You Should Keep Our Number Handy

Do you use a metal detector? Are you thinking about buying one?

If you’re not involved in the hobby, perhaps you should be. And if you do start detecting, keep our number handy - 800-426-2344 - because lots of hobbyists are pulling valuable quantities of silver and gold out of the ground. Once they find precious metals, they need a top precious metals refinery like us to tell them just what they have.

Shown: hobbyist with a metal detector searching for gold, silver and other precious metals which Specialty Metals can refine and recycle.

Success Stories!

If you’d like to read about some finds that detector hobbyists are making, visit MineLab.com and read the success stories you will find there.

A lot of the studies are fun to read. But if you’d like an even more vivid example of the kind of finds that are being made by hobbyists, here’s a video to watch. It shows hobbyists who are extracting what appears to be a one-ounce gold nugget from the ground in an abandoned gold mine in California. (They need to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to be certain about what it is.) If you’d like to see the moment that the find is made, it occurs at about the 9:40 timing point in the video. (Please be aware that when these guys find the nugget, they get so excited that they start to use a lot of swearwords – “Holy XXXX!” So if you want to keep your watching PG-rated, turn the volume down.)

And if watching this video inspires you to go hunting for gold, please keep us in mind for smelting and refining any gold you do dig up.

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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Prospector Finds Huge Ancient Sputtering Target Buried in the Mohave Desert

Wheeler McClintock, a solitary 78-year-old prospector, noticed something funny while he was riding his Burro Molly across the Mohave Desert in central California last October.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

“It was just weird,” McClintock told us in a recent call. “I looked down at Molly and thought I saw that all the brass rivets on her collar were shining brighter than usual. I jumped off to get a closer look and was pretty doggone sure that they were coated with platinum. Didn’t they used to be brass? Then I pulled out my tin cup and canteen to wet my parched whistle and golly day, they were coated with platinum too. Same with my glasses, my pickaxe and spade, my beer can opener, my earring and even the fillings in my teeth. I thought I was going crazy or about meet my maker in the great beyond.”

McClintock rushed to the county Assay Office to stake his claim. “They wouldn’t let me, even if I used one of the `Other’ forms that they use for UFO stuff,” McClintock recalls. “They wanted more info.”

Under the cover of a dark moonless night, McClintock rode Molly out into the desert again, armed with a $79 metal detector and a long metal spike. Returning to the site of his first plating, he stuck the spike into the ground, hit a metal object buried about a foot underground, then continued out in wider and wider circles while probing and testing at every stage. “I was trying to get the measurements of this thing, whatever it is,” he explained.

Finally, he had his answer. He had found a huge disk, about 100 yards in diameter, buried underground. “The Assay Office let me stake my claim, based on that information,” McClintock explains. “But since I had no idea what I had really found or what to do with it, I called the best precious metals refiners in the US, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344, to ask what I had on my hands. This real nice feller was happy to help me.”

“We’re not yet absolutely sure yet what Mr. McClintock has discovered,” states one of the precious metals recycling experts from Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. “Whatever it is, it is functioning as a huge platinum sputtering target, probably because of radioactive uranium deposits underneath. That’s why any metal objects that pass over it get quickly plated with platinum.”

Where did this thing come from? It could have been created millions of years ago by a meteorite hitting the earth. Or maybe even it was left behind, or created, by a UFO when it landed. We’ll get to the bottom of it. How much is Mr. McClintock’s find worth? Nothing, sad to say, because there is really no Mr. McClintock and this story is all made up.

But weird things happen on April Fool’s Day, right? Best wishes for recycling success from all of us at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

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What You Need to Know about Recycling Used Magnetron Sputtering Targets

We’ve written about sputtering targets many times before on this blog, including this great explanation of how sputtering targets work. They can contain valuable quantities of precious metals, even after they have outlived their useful life in your coating operations.

Shown: scrap sputtering targets, which can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

But what about magnetron sputtering targets? Do they, like gold-bearing sputtering targets, contain valuable quantities of recyclable precious metals? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Magnetron Sputtering?

The first impulse magnetron sputtering (HPIMS) machines were introduced to the market in 2006. They are high-powered sputtering machines that are now widely used in many coating applications for one simple reason: They can apply very dense layers of thin films onto a variety of surfaces, most often ceramics, glass and plastic.

  • Magnetron technology is most often used to apply coatings to:
  • Automotive headlight housings and other reflective surfaces
  • Architectural glass
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Photovoltaic cells
  • Solar panels
  • Superconductors
  • Flat panel displays
  • Lighting surfaces
  • Medical testing devices

Magnetron sputtering machines are also sometimes used to “etch” or pre-treat surfaces that will then be coated using regular sputtering technology.

Here’s a very informative video about magnetron sputtering that was produced by Norfolk State University. If you watch until the end, you’ll see that the HPIMS equipment has been used to coat a glass slide with a thin conductive film.

What Metals Do Used Magnetron Targets Contain?

Used magnetron sputtering targets that were used to apply reflective coatings on glass most often contain quantities of silver and metal oxides, including zinc oxide, tin oxide, or titanium oxide. Yet it is worth remembering that used sputtering targets contain more than just the metals that they were used to deposit – they can contain other metals too, such as thin layers of silver or other metals that were used to bond the targets onto their substrates. If you have used sputtering magnetron targets and would like to know whether they can be profitably recycled, call the best precious metals refiners, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to help you recoup maximum dollars from the precious metals they may contain.

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