The 3 phases of gold processing
Gold processing generally occurs in three phases: extracting gold from the ground, refining, and manufacturing. Extracting gold begins in open-pit or underground mining. Then, the gold is separated from the gold-bearing rock with chemical processes involving toxic substances like cyanide leaching, zinc dust, and mercury in a second step. These techniques for extracting gold are very controversial; they can harm people and the environment. The borax method and concentrator centrifuges are more environmentally friendly techniques for extracting gold. Gold mining techniques that are even better for the environment are currently being explored. In the future, gold and copper extraction from the earth could be undertaken with plants – this technique is called “phytomining”.
In the last step of gold processing, refineries analyse the gold obtained and separate it from other minerals and elements. The result is fine gold with up to 99.99 % gold content – the outcome of gold production.