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How to know the value of gold plated scrap metal

September 8, 2010

Q. I have several hundred sheets of metal of copper, nickel, and/or brass I would like to sell for scrap, and I would like to feel confident that I am getting a fair per-pound price for each type that I have.

Most of the brass is plated thinly with gold, but some is plated with iridium, and some is plain too.

Does the plating increase the value of the brass, or is it actually a hindrance to price in the sense that extracting it is more than it is worth?

Here is a picture to illustrate what I am talking about.

Paul Mansfield
artist's husband - Livermore, California

simultaneous September 10, 2010

A. At a $1250 gold price, the gold thickness on this type material will usually range between about 4 microinches to 30 microinches, and will therefore have a gold value of from $.05 to $.375 per sq.in. of gold plated area.

Where did you get the idea that some of the material is iridium plated? This sounds bogus to me, especially on the type of material in the photo.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

September 11, 2010

A. Hi Paul,
I would try to get the weights on each group of metals that you have. As far as the gold and iridium plated material go some electronic scrap dealers will give you slightly more, and others will say, "it costs us money to separate the gold from brass" and won't give you anything extra. Go to a scrap dealer that specializes in electronic scrap and stand firm on your copper and brass weights. Because the gold and iridium are plated "thin", there probably is not that much money there anyway. For example if the gold is an immersion coating your looking at maybe 3-5 microinches thick (.000003" - .000005"). Good Luck!

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York

April 1, 2012

Q. I tore apart an old transformer. The plates are about 2 by 2 inch.


I just want to know if these plates may have gold in them.

Jeff Lamereaux
- Millersburg Pennsylvania usa

April 5, 2012

A. Hi Jeff.

To my knowledge there is no precious metal inside transformers, nor do your parts look like gold. It is probably copper though, which has some value. The problem is that most old transformers are considered hazardous waste because the oil in them contains cancer-causing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls / dioxin). They should have been so labeled. Please don't tear apart old transformers. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychlorinated_biphenyl


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

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