Ask The Experts: Is there a safe DIY alternative to cyanide or mercury for extraction?
September 2016 by Chris Ralph
Q: With safety as a given, what can the average miner, or Joe-blow greenhorn do to identify and extract some metals or minerals with off-the-shelf products or natural ingredients?
Silver recovery from low-level solutions is frequently done in a cell that has a cathode with 2 to 5 or more times the surface area as the anode.
I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the basics of this important mineral separation technique and how a miner can use it to recover the values out of an ore.
Silver refining has been used from ancient times to change the characteristics of the metal. Early metallurgists refined silver by heating it a couple hundred degrees above its melting point and holding the metal at an elevated temperature for a period of time.
Most placer equipment is really made with gold in the 30 and larger mesh sizes in mind, though if carefully used can often get reasonable recovery down to the 50 mesh size.
Viewing details on Google Earth
The problem is that extracting gold from hard rock is often a lot more difficult than processing placer gravels. Still, there is some very high-grade ore out there in many old mining areas.
I get a number of questions from people about testing and treating hard rock ores. The simplest way, but also an expensive one, is to just have an assay test done by an independent assay firm. As an alternative...
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