The first step in the gold recycling process is sorting. This is important to determine exactly what percentage of the material contains valuable metals.
Scrap containing gold is placed on a scale. The exact weight of the material is recorded. Next, components are disassembled and sorted based on their type. A detailed record is kept of what materials are present. Any valuable pieces are recorded.
Because many recycled items also contain hazardous materials, these are also sorted. Environmentally harmful substances such as mercury are isolated and sent away for proper disposal.
Once all valuable components have been sorted and weighed, they are ready for smelting.
Next, parts and components that can be recycled are melted using very high and controlled heat. This is known as "smelting." The metal turns to liquid as it is heated past its melting point.
Gold is often mixed with other substances when used in electronics and other sources of scrap metal. Once it has melted into liquid form, however, it can be separated. Each metal has unique properties and densities. Smelting equipment uses these differences to separate and refine any metal of value.
Once gold and other metals are melted, they can be re-formed as needed. The refined metal is shaped and cooled into standard sizes and weights. These gold units can then be re-used.
Gold processing centers distribute the refined metal to factories to use as needed. Because of the refining and packaging process, recycled gold is as useful as the day it was mined, and can be used in electronics or jewelery once again.
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