December 7, 2010



1) Customer or their legal representative must be available at the time of opening the boxes containing the gold material. 2) The gold material will be weighed before melting, and the customer or their representative will take a note of the same weight. 3) The gold material will then be sent to the foundry for melting in front of the customer or their representative. A homogeneous bar will be made and returned back to the Safe Department. 4) The homogeneous bar will then be weighed and the customer (or their representative) will take a note of the weight after melting. (this is the weight that the refinery will be responsible for) 5) Two drill samples will then be taken from the homogeneous bar: one will be given to the customer (or their representative); and the other one will be sent to our laboratory for Fire Assay. The sample weight given to the customer will be deducted from the total weight after melting 6) The customer will be advised of the assay result. 7) If the assay result is acceptable to the customer, they should confirm their acceptance in writing or by email. 8) Once the customer approval of the assay result is obtained the refining process will immediately start.

Gold refining is the process of transforming raw, unrefined gold into an item with function and higher value. Purification procedures remove impurities and other metallic elements from the gold that remain after the smelting process, thus increasing its purity. Refiners usually use this often costly and time-consuming course of action to convert discarded scraps of gold into objects that can be sold for profit.

1. Borax and Soda Ash

When refining companies receive doré bars (unrefined gold and silver bullion bars), they first melt them in a furnace before adding borax and soda ash to the liquefied metal. This process separates the pure gold from the base metals. At that point, the refiner then takes a sample to a lab to measure the gold content. Workers then cast the gold into bars.


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This technique employs cupellation. . The Wohlwill process involves electrolysis. the gold is washed and drained REFINING Refining technically means any process by which gold becomes more refined. In the industry. in which an ingot of more than 95 percent gold is suspended in chloroauric acid. Industry professionals call gold production from ore (ore deposits in the ground) primary refining. In the final stage. which dissolves silver and base metals. In inquartation and parting. silver or palladium makes white gold. gold and copper make red or pink gold. The assayer then exposes the precious metal. the lead oxidizes. it remains and is treated with a secondary bath of hydrochloric acid. Metalworkers employ this procedure only for gold quantities less than 10 grams. the metalworker places the button of gold and silver in nitric acid to dissolve the silver. What remains is pure 24-karat gold. composed of gold and silver. Granulators make the gold chips look like corn flakes. it forms a tiny amount of precious metal and lead that the assayer removes from the slag of base metals. The gold flakes are put into a crucible.December 7. meaning the process ends up with a higher percentage of gold over other unwanted materials.99 percent. 2. so that during the chemical process all gold is thoroughly treated. 2. which is heated until the metal becomes molten. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] Because gold is often too soft for practical applications. with a high surface area. 2 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. The worker then places the alloy in nitric acid. 1. Miller Process o The Miller industrial process refines scrap metal with an unknown but measurable content of gold into gold with a purity of 98 to 99 percent. so that the chlorides created can be separated from the gold. This article will discuss secondary gold refining techniques. gold refining usually means "secondary refining"--the refining of scrap gold into gold ingots. although most civilians refer to this as gold mining. creating a fine product. The chlorine gas reacts with all metal that isn't gold. melts it at a high temperature. Wohlwill Process and High Purity Levels o The Wohlwill process produces gold of a purity greater than 99. to high heat again. Scientists and goldsmiths use colors for possible gold alloys: Gold mixed with nickel. and gold combined with iron makes blue gold. The assayer places an alloy of gold and other metals in a crucible. 3. using a furnace and some form of granulator. and then allows it to freeze. Because gold is insoluble in nitric acid. Inquartation and Parting o Metalworkers use the inquartation and parting procedure for larger quantities of gold because it's more ecologically friendly. and then aerated with chlorine gas. The Miller process begins when scrap metal is melted into chunks small enough to put into crucibles. the metalworker melts the gold in an alloy of silver or other base metals (gold must make up 25 percent of the alloy). During this stage. as it emits large amounts of lead oxide fumes that are highly toxic. Cupellation o Fire assaying is another method of refining gold. depending on its intended use. When the substance solidifies. refiners may add other metals to it. a process that separates noble metals from base metals. After that. especially the Miller and Wohlwill process.

These cathodes are taken out and melted down into fine gold. . Troy) of scrap. and for the sake of experience electrolytic cells for refining precious metals have been examined. Electric current is run through the chloroauric acid. Troy) from about 6 Kg (200 on Troy) of scrap. 3 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. Primary Refining: Cyanide Leeching (gold mining) o Primary refining. zinc. although the Wohlwill process is more expensive. These electrolytic methods eliminate some of the problems of the acid method described here. The latter is about the maximum that is reasonably handled in the equipment herein described. 24 karat gold strips. but they too have their own set of disadvantages and are not as suitable for the small lots and needs of individual jewelry manufacturers. together with any silver present which will be in the form of silver chloride. somewhere between five and 50 tons of material will be used. though sometimes escaping into the environment and harming gold miners. grinding wheel grains and similar material remains on the filter as a solid sludge. OUTLINE OF THE PROCESS The gold refining technique described here is the rather ancient wet chemical method whereby the gold-bearing scrap is dissolved in aqua-regia. or gold mining. the cyanide is collected and removed from the "tailings" of gold. Often industry locations use first the Miller process followed by the Wohlwill process. Other metals that were in the alloy or in the scrap (nickel. Primary techniques make use of dangerous chemicals. The filter and sludge are washed with repeated small amounts of water to wash all gold chloride solution down through the filter. Cyanide leeching is used on rubble with gold oredeposits. to more than 3 Kg (100 oz. The amounts which have been refined range from small lots of about 45 g (1 oz. sandpaper grit. The usual refining lot in practice is 300-1000 g (10 to 30 oz. These are probably very similar to the units used by many large professional refiners. and often do not successfully bring wealth to gold-mining regions because of political and social instability. Troy) of fine gold recovered from 600-3000 g (20 to 100 oz. This has prompted an increase emphasis on environmental best practices and sustainability. For every ounce of gold brought up from the ground and refined to purity. m is gold solution is then filtered and the jewelers bench dirt. Instructions for Large Scale Gold Refining By the Aqua Regia Acid Method INTRODUCTION It is known that the aqua-regia technique herein described is not the only method. the cathodes.December 7. mar natural landforms. Troy) of fine gold recovered from about l00 g (3 on Troy) of scrap. and the acid and electrolysis dissolve the anode and collect pure gold on the cathodes. are also floating in the chamber. requires more equipment and requires high gold inventories. is very controversial now because of its environmental impact. copper. It may not be the best. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] The ingot is called the anode.

REFINING PROCEDURE Type of Scrap Considered and Preliminary Treatment The gold scrap that is considered in this report is old jewelry and the material from jewelry bench work. When tests show this to be complete the solution is filtered and the gold in the filter thoroughly washed. if no nickel or copper is present it will most likely be the characteristic yellow of gold chloride. . rubber wheel particles. Any such large pieces should be shotted as described later. Massive pieces of metal take a very long time to digest in aqua-regia. rouge or similar material it is best simmer it in lye (sodium hydroxide and water (a saturated solution) in a ratio of 10 volumes of lye/water to 1 volume of bench sweeps. The nitric acid from the excess of aqua-regia used in the digestion is removed either by boiling or chemical reaction. The acids used in the process are very corrosive and highly toxic fumes are produced. sprues. 3.) If the scrap contains shellac. Such material has been found to contain from 20% gold in fairly dirty bench scrap to more than 70% gold in pure strip pot sludge.December 7. The clean gold is then melted and poured into molds or made into shot.) are also in this solution which is usually green in color. 4 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. The dust from floor sweepings or from polishing wheel vacuum collectors and similar low-grade scrap requires extensive preliminary treatment which is not described here. etc. filings. clippings. To recover the gold as metal a reducing chemical is added to selectively change the gold chloride into solid gold particles and leave the other metal chlorides unchanged and in solution. Appendix No. casting spills. So-called "green gold" and some low carat white gold contain considerable silver and are very difficult or impossible to dissolve in aqua-regia as an insoluble silver chloride film is formed which prevents further action by the aqua-regia. Strip pot sludge should be well washed with water to remove cyanide residues before acid is added to it. (See later section on Gold Shot. Experience indicates that most shops produce a bench scrap (lemel) that contains 30% to 40% gold. Mixing Aqua Regia This and many of the operations described here should be carried out under an efficient fume extraction hood. However. strip pot sludge. 2 discusses safety precautions in the operation of the process and should be carefully studied before any part of this work is undertaken. grinding wheel dust. Details of the hood used in this work are given in Appendix No. scrap jewelry pieces. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] iron. etc. Such gold or any high silver alloy must be melted with several times their weight of copper or brass and shotted to permit dissolution.

5 muriatic acid by volume. A slow flow or dropwise addition can be made from a bottle (with a bottom outlet) set on a shelf above the flask. For many batches 6 liter Ehrlenmeyer flasks are used.5 to 5 liters of aqua-regia are required per kilo of scrap. the aqua-regia will react very rapidly and may boil over. Teflon plastic is also suitable for the strong oxidizing conditions of the aqua-regia and Teflon will tolerate heating if done with care. 5 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. days or weeks and probably months after preparation.5 ml (cc) per-gram of scrap. It has been found that from 3. Both acids and especially hydrochloric emit acrid fumes. The amount of aqua-regia required for a given batch varies and depends on the proportion that is acid soluble and the quality of the metal present. These acids mix quietly.December 7. so the acid must be added slowly and with care. If muriatic acid is used (it is usually less costly) the proportions are calculated to be: 1 nitric acid to 4. DO NOT STOPPER (closed container)aqua-regia bottles. Digesting the Scrap The scrap gold is placed in the digesting vessel. Glass may be used for small batches. which evolves slowly for several days. Store in the open or in a fume hood. The precautions for mixing the acids are simple. There are reasons to err on the side of using more hydrochloric acid than theoretically necessary rather than too much nitric acid. If the scrap is the usual filings and dust from jewelers benches. This quantity requires considerable agitation and stirring to keep the reaction going and is better done in a jar under a fully ventilated fume hood.5 liters of aqua-regia per kilo of scrap. it is made by mixing 1 volume of concentrated nitric acid with 4 volumes of concentrated hydrochloric acid. Avoid splashes. . in smaller amounts this is equivalent to 4 to 4. A closed aqua-regia vessel can develop enough chlorine pressure to burst. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] Aqua regia is a combination of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid (the industrial grade of hydrochloric is sometimes called muriatic acid). If the aquaregia is several days old and is no longer producing chlorine gas a siphon from a high container is also a convenient way of adding aqua-regia slowly. No heat is evolved when mixing but the aquaregia at once starts to emit chlorine gas. most batches fall in the range of 4 to 4. protect eyes and work in the open or under a fume hood. or the glass jars illustrated are suitable if heated with much care 1 to 2 kilos of scrap material in a 6 liter Ehrlenmeyer flask is typical though up to as much as 35 kilos have been treated in these flasks. The aqua-regia can be used immediately.

choking and extremely toxic. being careful not to disturb the solid material in the reaction vessel. If heated too much it will produce brown fumes merely because it is too hot. Up to about half or three-quarters of the expected amount of aqua-regia is added and the mixture is allowed to stand for some time. Most jewelry alloys contain silver and the aqua-regia dissolves the gold and other alloying metals leaving insoluble silver chloride as a residue in the original size and form. It is good to break these as there may be a yet undissolved core that will dissolve more quickly if exposed. sludge present which tends to restrict the contact between aqua-regia and undissolved gold. others are colorless but take up oxygen as soon as they reach air and then turn red-brown . i. More aqua-regia is then added as before and the cycle repeated until the addition of fresh aqua-regia produces no reaction. but the aqua-regia should not be heated to boiling. the reaction will be slower and a considerable amount of aqua-regia can just be poured onto the scrap. Some of these are red-brown in color. brown fumes and bubbling. excess hydrochloric acid is not harmful.e.these fumes are acrid. the original hydrochloric acid having been depleted leaving some unused nitric acid available. If no more brown fumes appear the liquid is carefully poured off into a glass or plastic container. . they are heavier than air and the aqua-regia digestion should be done under a good fume hood. The preferred practice is to add the aqua-regia to the batch in two or three separate additions. 6 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. rubies. so frequent agitation is helpful. Care is advised as the reaction is often quite slow to start and then after some minutes becomes very. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] If the scrap is in the form of old jewelry or metal shot or other large pieces. Enough aqua-regia must be added to dissolve all of the gold. very active. When brown fumes are no longer evolved and the bubbling of the solution is quiet a little hydrochloric acid is usually added.December 7. they dissolve quite easily in water and in caustic solutions. however the excess aqua-regia that is required to accomplish this will later have to be removed so large excesses should be avoided. however such pieces usually crumble if crushed with a stirring rod. The jar or flask may get quite hot which increases the reaction speed. Toward the last the reaction is much slower and it is desirable to warm the solution and to agitate it regularly. sapphires and similar acid-resistant gems these can be left in place and recovered from the filter. Occasional agitation is good. Sometimes a further spurt of activity is seen. this wastes acid and obscures the end of the solvent action. The reaction also slows down near the end because of the amount of fine. The reaction of the aqua-regia with the metals in the scrap produces nitrogen oxides. When there is jewelry with diamonds. When pieces of jewelry or larger pieces of metal are being dissolved it often seems that the jewelry is not being attacked because it is still there in its original shape. especially with finely divided material.

and a larger one about 250 mm diameter. All of the solids should be washed into the filter with a small stream of water. wetted thoroughly with water and firmly seated and pressed into the corners to avoid wrinkles and vacuum leaks. Experience has shown that the paper discs usually used in these filters by chemists tend to float away when the filter is filled with liquid. some solids come through at first the filter should be stopped after a little while and the liquid poured back for refiltering. Filtering The aqua-regia now contains various metal chlorides (and perhaps nitrates) in solution and insoluble silver chloride as well as a lot of unwanted material in the sludge. 7 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. This is to get all gold chloride solution out of the filter and sludge into the liquid. The aqua-regia solutions are filtered with a Buchner filtering funnel and a 4 liter vacuum filtering flask. For the same reason mechanical vacuum pumps are not recommended unless provided with efficient acid vapor traps. and this mixture (when cooled) must be filtered. these have consistently shown 996/1000 gold. Two sizes of funnel have been employed. a wash bottle is useful for this operation. though few assays have been made. If. When the sludge and solids get into the filter the process usually slows up. When the filtering is complete the paper and the sludge should be washer with repeated small streams of water. though quite insoluble in water. as the acid fumes from aquaregia filtering rapidly reduce the pumping ability of a metal pump. inserted dry. a small one about 125 mm diameter. Two ply's of filter paper are used to help filtration and avoid breakthrough.December 7. . Vacuum is produced by means of a water pump (aspirator) available from chemical laboratory suppliers. Usually the liquid will then be clear and clean. however. not metal pumps should be used. but coffee urn filters obtainable from hotel and restaurant supply shops have proved very satisfactory. me reason for tooling is that silver chloride. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] When it is apparent that the reaction is complete the solution should be cooled to room temperature. These should be large enough to line the bottom and sides of the filter funnel. Plastic. is slightly soluble in strong acids and this volubility is lower in cold acids. Filtering proceeds more rapidly if the clearest part of the aqua-regia is decanted onto the filter first. Silver is probably the major non-gold constituent of gold refined by this procedure. me filtrate is usually clean and clear.

The solution will be clearer and noticeably less yellowish especially if a drop is viewed one white chinaware surface. a rather cheap chemical. The end point of the precipitation is difficult to see. 8 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. dissolve a weight of Storm Precipitant equal to the weight of dissolved metal.December 7. In hot water. It is recommended that this should be dried and saved until at least a 30 gallon drumfull is accumulated. If only gold chloride were present it would be yellowish. Precipitating the Gold The classic method of reducing gold chloride in solution to solid gold particles is to add "copperas" to the solution. The silver and any residual gold can be recovered separately or the material sent to a refiner. The filtered solution is poured into a plastic container (plastic buckets or 5 gallon pickle pails are suitable) for the next steps of eliminating excess nitric acid and precipitating the gold. This is a lengthy and patience-trying process. The precipitation of gold can be seen as a 'cloud' of particles in the solution. "Copperas" is an ancient name for ferrous sulfate. A number of other chemicals will also 'reduce' the gold chloride but Storm Precipitant (available from Shor) is better. . The filtered liquid is usually a rather handsome clear green color. Deliberate care during this gold precipitation work is advised. m is because the yellow gold chloride is gone and the green of the other chlorides remains. Add urea to the solution until there is no more fizzing. The best way is with urea. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] The filter paper now contains the unwanted material and also the silver chloride. of course. Observe the signs and test the solution frequently to avoid large excesses of Storm Precipitant. Nitric Acid Elimination The excess aqua-regia that was added to insure complete solution of all gold is. some clues may be noted in the density of the 'cloud' of gold particles. The classic procedure for nitric acid elimination is repeated boiling to near dryness with the addition of hydrochloric acid with some sulfuric acid near the end. due to nickel and copper etc. still in the solution at this stage and must be eliminated to allow the gold to be precipitated.

Filtration Then the solution has been cleared of gold it should be allowed to stand for several hours. 4 sulfur. . The bottom few inches of liquid are then poured through the filter keeping the gold largely in the pail. A simple siphon will remove the upper portion of the liquid quietly without stirring up gold particles. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] A rapid and satisfactory test for gold in solution is described in Appendix No. This treatment will remove small amounts of contaminants including cuprous chloride. The same Buchner filters and the same kind of filter and paper are used for gold as previously used to filter aquaregia. they can be removed as described later. In the interest of reducing the time and aggravation of filtering work the clear upper portion of the barren solution can be decanted and only the bottom few inches near the gold filtered. some particles are very small and require time to settle to the bottom. me gold is washed with repeated small amounts of water until the water coming through the filter is quite clear and colorless. A problem that occurs when too much Storm Precipitant is added is that copper chloride. The acid is added to the filter and the treatment repeated several times. Some excess of Storm Precipitant is required to cause this undesirable side reaction. through error. which forms a white precipitate. can be used as one of the signs that gold precipitation is complete. however. which is very soluble in the cupric chloride (CuC12) form. Standing for a period. and it is felt that the advantages of no boiling and little or no emission of brown fumes make it worthwhile to use Storm Precipitant even though larger volumes of liquids are handled and some care at the end point is needed. followed by repeated washing with water. If cuprous chloride is present it will make the melting of the gold a memorable experience. Careful addition of Storm Precipitant and a slow approach to the end point can avoid this. some cuprous chloride crystals are formed. if possible overnight. Dense clouds of choking white fumes will clear all persons out of the furnace room quite quickly. The sulfur dioxide odor. If. Limited experience with this contaminant has shown that it will reduce gold quality a little and it will affect the color of the gold.December 7. The gold in the pail is then just covered with concentrated hydrochloric acid and thoroughly stirred. facilitates the subsequent filtering operation. is reduced by the excess Storm Precipitant to the cuprous chloride (CuCl) state. 9 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. Although gold is heavy and most settles quickly.

Often there is gold adhering to the walls of the pail. The mold must be warm and dry. .December 7. should be clean and kept solely for melting pure gold. When the gold is well molten and 'quick' it can be poured into the mold. Slag from such fluxes are often very liquid and cannot be easily skimmed off. The paper should be pressed down firmly. Crucibles. When this is added to a hot crucible the paper burns with an eye-dazzling flame. A soft kitchen scraper helps move the gold into the filter and a small water jet is very useful in clearing the last particles into the filter. 10 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. Fluxes are not usually needed. Melting the Gold Any gas or electric furnace normally used for gold melting or alloy production may be used for melting the precipitated gold. Crucible material is not critical and may be selected to suit the melting furnace. When the gold is being melted the filter paper will burn and leave any adhering gold in the crucible. The mold should be smoked with a sooty flame. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] When the gold has been treated with hydrochloric acid and thoroughly washed it is then ready to transfer into the filter. this can be scrubbed down with a stiff brush and washed into the filter with the water jet. however. A cold mold may have traces of moisture and molten metal poured onto traces of moisture can create the most amazing. Mineral oil coatings are sometimes recommence but they may discolor the gold. If it is necessary to skim. or sprayed with a silicone parting fluid. a graphite rod is used to dip out the slag as adhering lumps on the end of the rod. but if a surface film appears on the melt a very little borax may be added. the filter paper can be burned out very quickly by adding a small amount (say ~ teaspoonful or less) of sodium nitrate. It usually burns quite slowly because the furnace flame at gold melting temperature does not have excess oxygen. When the gold is all in the filter the vacuum should be run for a while to get the gold as dry as possible. With time it will burn away. However. An ordinary spoon is convenient to transfer the gold into the crucible and working over a smooth clean surface so any spilled particles are not lost. costly and potentially painful eruptions. When the filter is quite empty of gold the paper and the last of the gold are transferred into the crucible.

Various methods have been employed for making shot or grain.December 7. 2010 [GOLD REFINING PROCEDURES] Making Gold Shot If the gold is to be used for alloying. In this work the molten gold is poured slowly into a container of water which has a fanshaped jet of water passing across the vessel about 1 inch below the surface. . The whole assembly is illustrated to the right. 11 | SCM Victory Duke Ltd. Excess of water flows out over the top of the vessel. making it is much more convenient in the form of shot rather than bars. To help slow the fall of the metal and prevent agglomeration of the shot a sloping metal baffle is fitted.

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