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GOLD
How can gold be extracted? Methods and procedures

Gold is one of the most sought-after materials and has been used as jewellery or currency for many centuries. Nowadays, gold is used to make high-quality jewellery and is refined with other luxury materials. For example, we love diamond jewellery, especially as wedding and engagement rings, or also use gold for exquisite luxury watches, such as the Excellence Quarts Gent gold watch from Tissot. But where does the gold for these things actually come from?

In the extraction of gold, a distinction is made between mountain gold and placer gold. Mountain gold is found in quartz veins and is referred to as primary deposits. Soap gold, also known as wash gold, reaches the earth's surface over millions of years - for example, through erosion and the effects of the weather. Gold dust and grains are deposited in rivers, this is called secondary deposits. But how does one actually get hold of gold? And what different methods are used to extract gold?

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Interesting facts about gold mining

The gold rush on the Klondike River in what is now Alaska: After rumours of gold findings started doing the rounds, more and more people travelled to the river to try their luck. It is estimated that in 1898 there were around 40,000 gold seekers in the Yukon region. Armed with pans, shaking tables and fine panning troughs, they try to read the gold from the river.

This method exploits the density of the material: Because gold is heavier and has a higher density, it sinks to the bottom of the pan as it is panned, separating it from the mud and sand. However, this process is very laborious and is now almost only used by hobby prospectors.

Here the gold ores or gold mud are enriched with mercury, the two metals combine to form amalgam. This is liquid and thus flows away from the other rocks. To separate the gold from the mercury again, the amalgam has to be heated - mercury evaporates much earlier and so gold remains. However, this process is by no means without danger, as toxic mercury vapours are produced that can lead to severe environmental and health hazards.

This process is done by adding sodium cyanide. This reacts with gold and can be used to dissolve gold from large quantities of rock. However, this process is also highly toxic, as hydrocyanic acid can be produced. However, it is also much more effective than the amalgam process and cyanide, unlike mercury, can be biodegraded.

This process offers the possibility of extracting particularly pure gold. Electrolysis is used for this purpose. Here, the metal moves from one electrode to the other while strong electrical energy is applied and is thus separated from other metals. This is the most commonly used method today, as it is more environmentally friendly and more effective.

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More topics

Ratgeber Gold Reinigung Titelbild The methods for gold jewellery
The purification of gold

Learn more
Ratgeber Gold Entstehung Titelbild Information & Theories
Origin of gold

Learn more
Ratgeber Gold Geschichte Goldnuggets Titelbild Gold Guide
History of gold

Learn more