Why gold is so expensive: extraction costs are high!
Complex Made Simple

Why gold is so expensive: extraction costs are high!

Why gold is so expensive: extraction costs are high!

A gold-digger is someone who is on the constant search to get a hold on anybody who can assure his or her financial future. Sometimes they even marry a rich person, no matter what is involved of what lacks. Even without any love. The love for opportunities seems to be the main driver.

    People in general are attracted by anything of value. Money makes the world go round. Money provides us power and status. Not just money, but diamonds as well. Or, how about bronze, silver or palladium? And not to forget gold of course.

    All of these products are traded physically all over this world. Many of them are traded in the financial markets. Some of them over-the-counter, OTC, but others are listed by exchanges. DGCX is one of them and lists silver and gold futures.

    The underlying value of a gold futures contract is 32 troy ounces (which equals one kilogram). This equals one kilogram and has to be delivered at the end of the last day of trading (at expiration). But are you allowed to deliver any quality of gold?

    No way, unfortunately for those who have to deliver and luckily for the buyers. No, I am talking about gold of 0,995 purity (or fineness). Since gold exists in many qualities this measure should be taken into account.

    Different qualities

    Only a few kinds of metal are found shining and pure during the digging process. Sometimes nuggets of gold are found. In 1869 in Victoria (Australia) a huge nugget of 6,992 kilos was found. And in 1856 mine-diggers in Michigan (USA) found a block of pure copper of 500 tons. Fabulous, don't you agree?

    Other metals usually are boringly disguised and constitute together with oxygen, sulphur, carbon and other elements, ores that can hardly be separated from the grit & stones that are also found while digging.

    The first step to get pure metal is to get rid of the additional grit and stones. Each material requires its own logistics. One method seems to be discovered by the wife of a led-digger. She noticed that the led-particles (portions) stuck to the soap-suds while she was washing her husband's clothes.

    Companies that exploit led and copper mines mix the ores nowadays with a light foaming liquid which contains a chemical medium (the so called collector) which assures that the right minerals stick to the surface of the bubbles while the rest is getting wet and heavy, and finally sinks. The valuable material including the foam is separated from the rest and dried.

    With other metals heat is used to separate the metal from the ores. Even a few millennia ago people discovered that metal could be separated in a coal fire to use the melted liquid to make ornaments or weapons.

    Early refining

    After the ancient Egyptians, the English discovered in the Middle Ages a combination of a shaft oven and a pair of ballows resulted in a firm aerial blow that rises the temperature of the fire, which results in not just a few nuggets, but in a stream of liquid metal that could be lead to a casting-mould.

    Gold is extracted with chemical means. It can be found in river-beds like small grains. But the smacked gold ores found in the gold mines is mixed with a potassium-cyanide solution in which the gold is dissolved. This gold containing solution is disposed of everything else after which the gold precipitates. A ton of gold ores results finally in 10 grams of pure gold.

    You might have wondered for many years why the price of one troy ounce of gold is as high as it is (around $637 today). Now you know!
    AMEinfo Staff

    AMEinfo staff members report business news and views from across the Middle East and North Africa region, and analyse global events impacting the region today.

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