Gold refining is a complex process with many potential points of failure. While the cost per ounce of gold is relatively low, losses due to inefficiencies in the refining process can add up quickly. To ensure that refineries are maximizing their gold output, it is important to track down any precious metal losses and find out where the gold goes.
In the refining process of gold and other precious metals, some metal losses are inevitable due to various factors.
- Sampling Errors: One of the primary sources of gold losses is sampling errors. It is crucial to have accurate and representative samples to ensure that the refining process is efficient and to minimize losses. However, sampling errors can occur due to various reasons such as insufficient sample size, inadequate sampling techniques, or contamination of samples.
- Losses in Processing: During the refining process, precious metals may be lost due to spills, splashes, or leaks. This can occur during various stages of the process, including smelting, melting, and chemical processing.
- Volatilization: Precious metals can also be lost through volatilization, which is the process of metals turning into a vapor or gas form. High temperatures and long refining times can lead to the evaporation of precious metals, resulting in losses.
- Residual Metals: Another source of loss is residual metals that remain in equipment, furnaces, or pipelines after processing. These residual metals can add up over time and result in significant losses if not removed properly.
- Human Error: Human error is also a significant contributor to precious metal losses. Mistakes in weighing, labelling, and tracking can lead to incorrect measurements and inaccurate record-keeping, resulting in losses.
How Are Refinery Losses Getting Calculated & How Can We Reduce Them?
Calculating refinery losses is important for refining companies as it helps them understand the efficiency of their refining process and identify areas where they can improve.
- Material Balance
- Mass Balance
- Assay Balance
Method of calculating refinery losses by comparing the number of precious metals in the input material to the amount in the output material.
While some level of metal losses is inevitable, refineries take several steps to minimize these losses.
- Improve Sampling Techniques
- Optimize Processing Conditions
- Implement Rigorous Quality Control Procedures
- Use Advanced Technologies
Additionally, regular maintenance and cleaning of equipment can help reduce residual metals, which can contribute to losses.