The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

Humanium - A New Alloy for a Good Cause

May 15, 2019 07:00
Humanium - A New Alloy for a Good Cause

Peace does not come through prayer, we human beings must create peace. Also, power of truth is more powerful and enduring than the power of gun. Therefore, the Humanium Metal by IM Initiative is a laudable effort at making this world more peaceful through concrete human action.” -Dalai Lama

Does that make Humanium the antithesis of prayer? Not exactly, but it does make it a commendable follow-up. So what exactly is Humanium metal?

Humanium is a metal that's made from melted-down guns. More specifically, it is recycled metal from illegal firearms obtained from gun destruction programs.

The Story behind Humanium

The brainchildren behind Humanium are two Swedish creative agencies, Great Works and Akestam Holst. Their pro bono campaign, Humanium Metal by IM, garnered attention when it won the Grand Prix for innovation at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The campaign also drew the interest of IM Swedish Development Partner, which has a long history of working in countries where gun violence is hindering development.

They coordinated their efforts and in 2016, launched the first weapons destruction program dedicated to Humanium Metal by IM in El Salvador. The program generated three tons of Humanium from nearly 5,000 weapons. The initiative has since expanded to Guatemala, with Honduras and Columbia expected to follow.

How Humanium Is Used

Humanium can be recycled into all sorts of things, including buildings components, machinery, utensils, tools, bicycles and jewelry. In fact, Sweden’s Arild Links currently sells a charm bracelet made from Humanium. And last year, watchmaker TRIWA began using Humanium to create custom watches.

And there’s more to come. Through future brand collaborations, Humanium Metal by IM hopes to explore the production of even more Humanium-based products.

Is Humanium Certified?

Since Humanium is made from seized firearms in full cooperation with local governments, each batch comes with documentation provided by their respective melting plants, along with technical specifications. The process is also monitored by the non-profit association, Swedish Fundraising Control.

Consumerism with a Cause

Humanium might be the perfect metal for socially conscious consumers who prefer to buy from brands with pro-social messages and ethical business standards. Humanium Metal by IM uses proceeds from its sales to fund nonviolence initiatives in the areas it sources from. By purchasing Humanium products, consumers can, in turn, help the world become a better, more peaceful place.

Third Basel Accord’s New Definition of ‘Monetary Gold’ Now in Effect

April 1, 2019 07:00
Third Basel Accord’s New Definition of ‘Monetary Gold’ Now in Effect

The Basel Accords refer to the global, voluntary regulatory framework on banking regulations related to capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk. The third installment of Accords, Basel III, was finalized in 2010 in response to the financial regulation deficiencies revealed by the financial crisis of 2007–08. Although scheduled to be completely implemented during a two-year window between 2013 until 2015, the implementation deadlines for various changes have all been extended repeatedly. However, some changes regarding definitions of "Tier 3" capital are finally in effect.

The overall intent of Basel III is to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage. By April 1, 2019, all Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) must comply with Basel III's new rules for Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSF) and Liquidity – which includes an updated definition for monetary gold as banking capital: “[...] physical gold held in [the bank’s] own vaults or in trust.”

Under Basel II, gold was classified as Tier 3 capital and treated as a risky and illiquid asset. This meant that gold reserves on a financial institution's balance sheet were subject to a Risk Weighting Assessment (RWA) of 50%. In other words, banks could only apply half of gold's market value towards their solvency requirements. Under Basel III, monetary gold now qualifies as a Tier 1 asset, and is 100% valued in calculations establishing banking viability. However, gold derivatives (which are not considered the same as monetary gold), are excluded from this new framework.

So basically, monetary gold is now counted as risk-free capital among banks. On top of that, SIFIs are now required to quadruple their reserves compared to the minimum requirements established in Basel II. Although these regulations aren’t getting tons of publicity right now, we think it’s safe to say that the changes in gold supplies, market demand, and prices will ripple on for years as a result. As for how quickly and drastically these changes develop, only time will be able to tell. To keep a close eye on developing gold prices, download our app and start setting those price alerts.

Scientists Create New 'Gold-Like’ Catalyst from Copper

March 20, 2019 07:00
Scientists Create New 'Gold-Like’ Catalyst from Copper

According to a study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers with the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Liaoning have discovered a way to transform copper into a new material with catalytic properties similar to gold.

To create the new material, the researchers shot a copper target with a jet of high temperature, electrically charged argon gas. The fast-moving ionized gas particles blasted copper atoms off the target. The atoms then coalesced onto the surface of a specialized collecting device to form a layer of sand-like matter with individual grains measuring only a few nanometers in diameter.

Using this material as a catalyst, the scientists were able convert carbon (as coal) into an alcohol at a level of efficiency similar to what could be achieved with a gold catalyst.

Compared to gold (or other precious metals), normal copper catalysts are inefficient to work with because they corrode too quickly. This is because copper atoms have fewer electrons in less stable arrangements compared to gold atoms. According to the study's lead researcher, Professor Sun Jian, the electrified argon gas "inject[s] a large amount of energy into copper atoms [to make] the electrons more dense and stable." This is what enables the resulting material to resist high temperatures, oxidization, and erosion at levels comparable to gold.

Although this form of modified copper may not totally replace gold, the researchers are hopeful that their discovery will significantly reduce the use of precious metals in industrial applications.

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