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4metals Wisdom

4metals Wisdom

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Published by: AFLAC ............ on Jul 23, 2009
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09/06/2010

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I hear a lot of complaints about being ripped off by refiners but it seems that few people know how to preventit. How many of you would go into a bank with a pile of money and tell the teller that you don't know howmuch is here but if they will count it and credit your account you would appreciate it. You know sooner or later you'll get ripped off. Going to a refiner and handing them a pile of scrap to pay you for is the exact samething. If you don't have the capabilities to melt the material go to the refinery and witness the melt, don't let itleave your sight. If the melt was large enough they will take a dip sample, make sure the melt is molten andstirred before sampling. If it is a smaller melt, still make sure it is molten and stirred before they pour it.Inspect the bar and the slag after the pour. If the slag has alot of beads put it in a bag and take it, it containsyour metal. Now they will either drill your bar, make sure if it is a drilling they take it from both the top and bottom, if they took a dip sample they will cut it into small pieces. Both the cutting of the dip sample and thedrilling will be done in front of you. They will package up 3 small samples of at least 1 1/2 grams each (1 pennyweight) I would request more sample, at least 3 grams so you have extra in case you need to runanother assay. You take 1 sample, they keep 1 sample, and a 3rd is for an independent assayer in case youdon't agree with their assay. I like to request the right to take my bar back if we don't agree on assay, so sinceall bars tend to look alike, sign the bar on both sides with a marking pen. Also sign the seal of the umpiresample. If you follow these steps they will know you have been around the block before and your settlementwill be treated with respect. Now before you leave take a receipt with you which states the weight they will be paying you for. It should be the weight of the bar plus the weight of their sample, plus the weight of theumpire sample. Now it's just like you counted the money before going into the bank and you have a receipt.You now have recourse if you don't like the result!..Of course you have a written list of what the charges will be for the refining services, what metals they will be paying for (don't let them keep your silver either) Andyou had it before you went to the refiner in the first place. To be fair to the refiner, because there are refinerswho do legitimate business and are entitled to make a reasonable profit, you will be paid a percentage of allmetals refined and if some metals do not reach a minimum deduction you will not be paid for them. There arealso things like splitting limits which means if your assay differs from their assay by more than a defined percentage (never over 0.25%) you will use the umpire sample to determine who is right. If you are withinthe splitting limits you split the difference. Umpire assays are not cheap and the looser pays the tab. Shop afew refiners, read their terms and do what I wrote above and you should be OK for melt-able scrap. Find adecent assayer and have your sample assayed, in the event of a difference, keep track of who wins, if your assayer looses too often, find another. A good assayer is like a good heart doctor except they don't make asmuch money.If you follow the procedure above you will leave the refiner with no cash in hand, but you will have receiptswhich are legal documents. Send out your assay sample ASAP and when you have a result call the refiner toexchange assays. In most cases they will tell you their assays first, if their number is higher accept it and goto the next metal. This process will take a few days longer if PGM's are in the bar but you can usually settlegold and silver within 2 days. When you settle you tell them which day you want them to price your metaland they will cut a check for you on that day.There are similar precautions for non melt-able scrap and if anyone is interested just ask. It isn't fair tocomplain about being ripped off if you didn't go into the refinery prepared.
From my previous post about melt-able scrap, you can easily figure out its all about the sample. If the sampleis good it is representative of the entire lot. Melting is one of the easier samples to get representative quickly,other materials may require you be present as a representative of your material for 2 or 3 continuous work days. If you're not willing to do that, you have no gripe about low yields.Some materials are sample-able as a fine 60 to 80 mesh powder, others are chopped or ground to make ahomogenous mixture, often to prepare this material takes a few, time consuming steps. I am assuming that
 
you have quantity of these materials because this process is never done for 25 pounds, there are smallcollector refiners who process small lots and the rules to follow are similar.First lets talk about seals, not the furry kind that eat fish but the ones that make your drums and containerstamper proof. When you ship your material to a refiner, or take it in yourself always ship it in drums (usually55 gallon size) that have open tops and lids with rings to seal them. Through the tabs on these drums you will place a numbered seal. These seals are your way of knowing nobody was in your drums without you beingthere to see them. Don't worry about hurting anybody's feelings refiners use them when they ship material outas well. Often incinerators or ovens are used to process your materials overnight, always put a seal on thedoor so it can't be opened until you are there the next day. Bring extra seals so you can close up drums of  processed materials that you can't be with. While we're on the subject of drums, often a large refiner will provide you with drums for shipping, I always accept. If they offer you seals, always decline. Don't cheap outhere, buy seals which are numbered and colored various colors so they cannot be duplicated easily.Write down what the drums weigh empty, full, and net weight of your material and write down your sealnumber. This is necessary documentation for the refiner to receive your material.Tell the refiner what you are bringing and discuss how it will be sampled and the time required. Also discussrates before you arrive and have them in writing. This is always done by appointment, you don't just drop in.If your material is a fine mesh powder, usually called prepared sweeps, the process you will witness is called blending, whereby all of the drums of powder are mechanically added to either a double cone or a vee blender and blended for 45 minutes. The powder is then returned to the drums and each drum is sampled witha pole sampler made to sample the powder evenly all the way down to the bottom of the drum. The technicalname for the sampling pole is a thief. Kind of ironic but they come from the grain industry and they call themgrain thiefs. (just a little historical perspective) Now all the drums are sealed up with the refiners seals andweighed to get your final weight. You're done with the drums now focus all of your attention on the sample pulled from the drums. Some refiners will weigh out 500 grams of sample, often in duplicate, and place it inan oven overnight to calculate the moisture content. Make sure you seal the oven. This material can be as richas 1 ounce of gold per pound, so a 2000 pound lot (4 drums) can be 1/4% moisture and it represents realmoney. The moisture is calculated in the morning from the samples dried overnight and the weight of water in your entire lot is subtracted from the totals. Now bags of sample are prepared for you to take for analysis.Always take at least 1 ounce, they take an ounce and again an umpire sample is sealed up as well. Nowyou're done, you have weights and a representative sample and your seals helped you verify nobody messedwith your samples. Next post we'll discuss preparing sweeps at a refiner, here are a few pictures of what seals look like.Attachments
» Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:34 pmBurning crushing and sifting. Sampling material that needs incineration and sweeps preparation is never a 1day deal. When your drums arrive at the refiner, with your seals on them, they will call you to schedule your visit. Always let them know when you intend to come or would like to come and schedule delivery so thematerial isn't at the refinery too long. Who knows what can happen, you've safeguarded the scrap this long so be safe. They will put the material into the incinerator and start a burn cycle. If they say it will need rakingduring the process be there when the oven is opened. Usually they burn overnight so seal up the oven untilthe morning. Your material is ready for crushing in the morning, usually after a rake to see if it's stillsmoldering, if it is let it burn out. Before the material is put into a ball mill, check to see that there are only balls in the mill. Have them install the dump grate and spin the mill to make sure no left over material is inthe mill. Add your material to the mill and let it crush for the required time, usually 1 hour. They will thendump the mill into the enclosed housing and take your crushed powder to the sifter. Again have them spin themill to assure it is empty. Some representatives make the refiner weigh the material out of the incinerator sothey can track the weight and be sure it is all there after milling and sifting. (Not a bad policy) Finally the
 
material is sifted, the majority of the fine powder represents your greatest values, this is where your sampleswill come from using the sampler the same as in the previous post. They rarely dry a sample after incineration because it hasn't had time to pick up moisture. There is oversized material in the sifter, it is your material and it almost always contains values. Have it put in a 5 gallon pail and put a seal on it and take ithome. When you accumulate enough of this stuff bring it back for crushing and sifting again. Usually thereare 3 fractions coming off the sifter, the oversize is broken down into magnetics (low value) metallics (higher value, usually there's bigger pieces of gold in there) and chunks of wanna be powder that didn't crush. Youwant it all. If there's a large fraction of metallics the refiner may suggest melting it. Finish with your sweepssamples and rep the melt just like the method described for melt-able scrap.Again you will leave with paperwork stating the settlement weight, you will have sealed up an umpiresample and you have your sample. And you have seen it all processed before your eyes.The last type of material to watch at a refiner is e-scrap, my next post will detail that sampling process, I haveto rest my fingers. 
» Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:27 pmThe last and possibly the most popular type of scrap (for this forum) to send out to a refiner is e-scrap. Fromwhat I've read on this forum a-lot of our members get this scrap and cherry pick the good stuff for refining or do some sort of preparation so they can recover the metals from the higher yield components themselves.This will always leave some kind of lower yield material that is ripe for sending out, providing you can get paid fairly for what's in there. Again the only way to tell what is in there is to sample the material and thesample has to be representative. This material is generally stream sampled. What that means is they chop,shred, grind or pulverize the material into uniform sized chunks so they can draw off a proportional sizedsample. A stream sampler will sample shredded paper as well as it will sample lead shot, and therein lies itsweakness. It is up to you, the generator of the material, to separate the material into grades of like densityscrap. This is a bit of subjective sorting here but let me explain. The material which has been processed intolike sized pieces is moved along a conveyor and dropped into a chute as a steady stream of parts, the machineis programmed for say a 25% sample, by switching some diverting arms the sample streaming down thechute is diverted into different lines, one line goes to the 75% accumulating pile, and the other to the 25% pile. It is amazing to watch and I have watched it and weighed the fractions coming off and it's pretty dangclose to right on. This procedure will then be repeated on the 25% fraction to produce a fraction which is 61/4% of the original and so on. They continue until you have a representative, manageable sample of theentire lot. This sample is either incinerated, crushed, sifted, and the oversize melted with copper, or it'smelted directly with copper. The benefit is the smaller sample is produced into an assayable sample whileyou watch. Now for the glitch.... if the material is a mixture of say steel relay headers with gold pins, and depopulatedPC boards, the sampling will not be so great. The heavier steel headers fall faster than the light circuits so thestream isn't as dense consistently. Now if you have enough headers to run separately, and enough boards torun separately, the densities will be similar and the sampling is very good. The refiner doesn't know if a baddensity mix will work in his favor or in your favor so he isn't too anxious for sampling of poorly sortedmaterials either. So the sorting is the job of the collector, you, before you ship for stream sampling.The material which you have pre sorted is received at the refiner where they will decide if it will be best togranulate, shred, ball or hammermill this material before stream sampling. Whatever they decide, you will be part of the decision, and with your nod the material will go through the tortuous process. You will know your start weight and verify the finish weight. From looking at the parts they will also let you know if it will needincineration (likely if it was PC boards) or straight melting. Now it's off to the stream sampling machine. I've brought in 20, 55 gallon drums of plated connector scrap and had it reduced to 3, 5 gallon pails. Now you getto do eenie meeney miney mo and pick one for processing. The other two are sealed up in case another sample is needed.

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