Extracting gold: the basics, the methods and the technology

According to estimates, 30 billion tonnes of gold are found in the earth's crust. Most of it is bound in ores of gold: On average, 1 gram of gold is present in 1 ton of gold ore. The precious metal is extracted from the rock with chemicals before processing it further.

Gold: its mining and its use

On a global average, 3,500 tonnes of new gold are extracted annually. About 1,200 tonnes return to the world market by recycling old gold from electrical appliances, gold purchases, and so on. All of this gold serves different purposes. The jewellery industry processes 46%, private investments use 22%, central banks use 17% as gold reserves, and 15% is used in the electronics industry, science, and other purposes.

  • Jewellery industry processes 46%
  • Private investments use 22%
  • central banks use 17%
  • 15% is used in the electronics industry, science, and other purposes

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.

Extracting gold with BEUMER

From trough belt conveyors to bucket elevators, we develop efficient, economic conveying technologies and systems for open-cast and underground gold ore mining. Regardless of the method, we are at your side to make your custom conveying solution work.

  • Mining & Minerals

    Our systems ensure smooth, economical and environmentally friendly processing at each stage of materials handling.
    Details
  • Ore Mining Logistics

    Between the mine and the processing plant are often great distances.
    Details
  • Pipe Conveyors

    A pipe conveyor is recommended for sensitive products such as granulate or raw materials, which have to be protected from the elements.
    Details
  • Troughed Belt Conveyors

    Open troughed belt conveyors transport bulk goods, e.g. for cement manufacture, quickly across large distances and rough terrain.
    Details
  • Troughed Belt Conveyor

    Overland Belt Conveyors

    Open troughed belt conveyors are suitable for conveying any type of material that must be transported across vast distances through rough terrain.
    Details
  • Mobile Conveyors

    Mobile conveyor belts improve the efficiency of mining operations and reduce their production costs at the same time.
    Details
  • The AISC (All-in Sustaining Costs) describes the production costs for the extracting of gold per ounce of gold in US dollars. In 2020, the AISC was between $800 and $1,045/oz.

  • Around 54,000 tonnes of the yellow precious metal are still in the ground. These gold reserves are estimated to last until about 2037.

  • The production of gold is a complex process consisting of 3 phases: the mining of gold ore, the refining into industrial gold, and the separation process into fine gold.

  • The top ten gold-mining countries are China, Australia, Russia, the US, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, South Africa, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia.

  • Gold is used to make jewellery (46%), gold bars, and coins for private and government investments (39%). Gold is also used in computers, smartphones, electrical appliances, and in science, medicine, and other fields (15%).

Meet us at a mining and minerals trade fair

Do you have any questions?

Do you have any questions?

Your Contact Person

Dr. Kilian Neubert

Head of Mining

Call us!

Phone