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topic 42389

Extracting gold from copper

A discussion started in and continuing through 2020

Q. My name is Tommy. I just got a job at a train yard, we move a lot of copper concentrate through our yard which inevitably spills here and there. Someone at work told me that the concentrate (a granular substance) is copper that has just been taken from the mine and has yet to be refined. They also told me that a percentage of it is gold. How would you get the gold out of the concentrate?

Tommy A. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor] transportation - Arizona, USA


A. I don't know if we can help you, Tommy, since we deal with metal finishing here rather than refining. But please question your assumptions -- especially when starting a new job! It is NOT inevitable that copper concentrate spills into the ground, and it's probably not acceptable either. Keep stuffing the suggestion box with ideas until the problem is solved.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. Dissolve all with aqua regia, then ppt out the copper with NaCl, then filter out the copper chloride and then ppt out the gold as pure with sodium metabisulfite mixed with water. Filter the gold fines and smelt.

You could try dissolution in Nitric acid and that leaves the residue as gold. With excessive Cu, there is a lot of acid gas , brown and irritating so be careful.

Dr Malcolm Mudge
- Perth, Western Australia

July 9, 2012

Q. Hi sir. I want to know if aqua regia process is applicable to extract gold from the mixture of nickel and copper? Or what is the best way to separate gold from these metals?

anosha and ali
research worker - karachi, pakistan

June 22, 2020

My ore has three metals: gold, copper and iron as a highest concentrate. I tried to extract gold, didn't work out. I prepared hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach), ratio of 2 to 1. After 4 hours added smb expecting precipitation . Where am I going wrong?

Aswell Makando
- Lusaka, Zambia

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