When gold is mined, it is usually found in ore, a type of rock that contains minerals and other materials. Removing gold from the rock is part of the gold refining process.
Interest in gold has reached new heights recently because of the rising price of gold. Gold recently passed the $1,300 per ounce mark and appears to be headed even higher. There are a number of factors pushing gold prices upward, such as continued economic weakness, fears about inflation, gold buying by central banks, etc. Gold prices typically rise in times of economic uncertainty, and the current stagnant economy has been no exception.
The rising price of gold, coupled with economic uncertainty, has led to an increase in interest concerning gold and all aspects of its mining and production. In addition to buying physical gold, investors are also making money by investing in gold companies. That is why learning as much as possible about how gold is mined and manufactured is important to investors.
When gold ore is processed, it begins with the crushing and milling of the gold ore into tiny, dust-like granules. The ore is placed into a crushing device, which smashes the ore into the fine particles. Once that is done, water is added to these small particles, thus creating a pulp-like substance. The ore is then ground into even tinier particles and smashed into a ball mill.
At that point, the ground up pieces of ore will be separated according to size. Big pieces will be crushed again, and small pieces will go on to the next stage.
When the fine particles are processed, gold is removed from the sand via cyanidation. A solution containing cyanide is added to the sand to dissolve the gold present. Zinc dust is then added to capture the gold and remove it from the solution. The gold is then filtered to further separate it from the solution.
Once this process is complete, gold is then smelted. Smelting consists of removing impurities from gold by melting it down. During this process, other metals present in the gold such as copper zinc and iron can be removed by adding flux to the molten gold. The other metals mix with the flux and can be separated out.
Once this process is complete the gold can be cast into bars, alloyed with other metals, etc.
Removing gold from ore is best left to professional gold extraction services, as attempting it at home can be expensive, impractical and dangerous. Understanding the process, however, can lend better insights into how gold mining companies operate, as investors get a better grip on the effort and costs involved in refining gold, thus allowing them to better spot companies who do the job efficiently.