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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.

Wyoming: A Hot Bed of Rare Earth Metals?

November 26, 2019 12:33
Wyoming: A Hot Bed of Rare Earth Metals?

Rare earths are elements that are actually quite abundant in the earth’s crust. They are called rare, however, because they share many common properties that make them difficult to separate from each other.

The rare earths (there are 17 elements in total) are silver, silvery-white or gray metals and have high electrical conductivity, which is why they are in demand for use in consumer electronics, computers and networks.

According to data from a 2018 US Geological Survey, China is the world’s largest producer of rare earths, with a domestic output of 120,000 megatonnes last year. It’s worth noting that while the country has taken steps to clamp down on environmentally non-compliant rare earth mines, illegal rare earths mining is still a problem in the country.

Behind China, the top countries for rare earth metal production include:

  • Australia (20,000 MT)
  • United States (15,000 MT)
  • Myanmar (5,000 MT)
  • Russia (2,600 MT)
  • India (1,800 MT)
  • Brazil (1,000 MT)
  • Thailand (1,000 MT)
  • Burundi (1,000 MT)
  • Vietnam (400 MT)

Looking at the outputs, it’s not surprising the U.S. depends on China for 80 percent of its rare earth imports. But if China were to cut off its supply to America, as they’ve threatened to do in the midst of the current trade war, where would the U.S. get its rare earth metals? Wyoming, perhaps.  

Bear Lodge, located near Sundance in the Bear Lodge National Forest in Northeast Wyoming, is home to one of the richest and highest-grade rare earth deposits in the North America. According to Rare Element Resources, it has an estimated 18 million tons of rare earth. Bear Lodge, however, is idle.

Rare Earth Resources had been exploring the area since 2004, and in 2016, got the green light to mine the rare earth at Bear Lodge. The project, however, was put on hold before it even got off the ground when rare earth prices nosedived.

The prospects for rare earth mining in Wyoming picked up steam again after the Trump Administration released its Federal Strategy to Ensure a Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals. The strategy would help RER cut through regulatory red tape.

Right now, the only operating rare earths mine in the U.S. is the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine, just north of the unincorporated community of Mountain Pass, California.

Because they chemically bond to each other and surrounding dirt, rocks and mineral sediment, the biggest challenge isn’t finding rare earth metals—it’s harvesting them. The process is also more costly in the U.S. since refining and separation plants have to meet far higher environmental standards.

If China were to cut off its supply of rare earth, the U.S. can just develop their own rare earth supply, whether it be from Mountain Pass, Bear Lodge, or both.

Who Buys Dental Gold?

October 29, 2019 08:00
Who Buys Dental Gold?

While the use of precious metals in dental restorations has been on the decline due to newer and improved dental technologies, dental gold and other precious metals still accumulate quickly in dental offices. According to DentistryIQ, many restorations with metal placed over the past decades are now reaching their life expectancy and need to be replaced, keeping dentists busy. That’s why many dental professionals recycle dental gold and other filler metals such as silver, platinum and palladium.

Who buys dental gold? Precious metal refineries with on-site labs do, like Manhattan Gold & Silver, for example. Dental professionals simply bring or ship their dental scrap to our refinery, where we assay it to determine its precious metal content. The payout is based on the dental scrap's market value the day it is evaluated.

Materials Used in Dentistry

Common materials used in dentistry include gold, porcelain, silver amalgam or composite (white) resin. Gold, however, is still the strongest and longest lasting material dentists can use. Like teeth, gold is durable but also malleable, which makes it an ideal metal for use in a crowns, caps and fillings. Gold is also ideal for dental applications because it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Other precious metals used in dentistry include platinum and palladium. The main drawback to these alloys is their metallic color, which is why metal crowns are generally relegated to back molars. So how do these precious metals, including gold, end up as dental scrap?

What Is Dental Scrap?

Dental scrap is any type of prosthetic that contains precious metals, such as crowns, but may also include:

  • Onlays and inlays
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and bridges
  • Fillings
  • Implants
  • Caps
  • Dental grindings

When a patient needs a crown or bridge removed, these dental restorations essentially become dental scrap. Dental professionals generate plenty of dental scrap through extractions and other procedures. The rise in value of precious metals, has made dental scrap even more profitable lately.

However, not all dental scrap is recyclable. Substances like amalgam are actually made up of a mixture of materials that can include toxic mercury, silver, zinc, tin and copper and must adhere to strict guidelines for collection and disposal. The metal component of partial dentures, which is generally made out of base metal, is also not valuable.

It’s difficult to determine the material and value of any dental scrap without an assay and evaluation, which is why it’s important to work with a reputable refinery.

Who Buys Dental Gold?

At Manhattan Gold & Silver, the recycling process begins when a client brings us dental scrap to be recycled. We melt down dental scrap into a bar and determine its precious metals content with an assay. The fire assay process has been practiced for centuries to determine the weight of precious metals including gold, silver and platinum. Compared to other determining techniques, like X-ray assays, fire assays are the most precise because other impurities are “burned” off, leaving only the purest of metals. It is the most accurate way to test the purity of gold.

The Benefits of Recycling Dental Gold

For dental professionals, the main benefit of recycling dental gold is financial. Recycling dental scrap can help offset overhead costs and boost profits. The second is environmental. Recycling dental scrap helps reduce the amount of resources spent on mining unique materials. Manhattan Gold & Silver is equipped to handle dental scrap of any size and mix. Our expertise makes dental scrap refining simple and profitable for our dental clients. We can quickly and easily refine dental scrap and pay out the maximum value based on the current market rate, as determined by the London Fixing.

Want to optimize your practice and recycle dental gold and alloys with Manhattan Gold & Silver? Create an account to get started today or contact us directly for price quotes.

Is the Earth Running Out of Gold?

October 22, 2019 08:00
Is the Earth Running Out of Gold?

While the concept of the Earth running out of gold may seem farfetched, it’s actually not. Let’s consider how it got here to begin with.

Where Gold Comes From

One theory many scientists believe is that precious metals, including gold, crash landed on Earth via meteorites that bombarded the planet more than 200 million years after its formation. When molten iron sank to the Earth’s center to form the core, it took most of the planet's precious metals (and gold) along with it. Hot water trapped deep inside the Earth eventually cracked the planet’s solid-rock layer, releasing quartz-and-gold-filled veins.

That’s what makes the gold mining process so challenging. Gold located close to the surface can be extracted using open-pit mining techniques, while gold that’s located farther below the surface is excavated with underground mining methods. Areas where gold is concentrated enough to be mined profitably are far less common.

What Makes Gold a Precious Metal?

Well-known precious metals include silver, palladium, platinum and the most distinguishable one, gold. For a metal to be considered precious, it must be:

  • Rare – A metal must be more difficult to find than other types of metals.
  • Valuable – A precious metal’s rarity should give it economic value as an investment, art, jewelry and a commodity.
  • Naturally occurring – Precious metals must be naturally-occurring compounds that can found on the periodic table of elements.

Let’s look at gold, more specifically. Unlike diamonds and other gems, gold can’t be artificially produced. It isn’t formed on this planet but exists in its natural state contained within the Earth’s crust. It’s what makes it rare. According to Gold.org, if we melted down all the gold ever mined throughout history (approximately 190,000 tons), it would result in a cube of pure gold that would measure roughly 68 feet on each side.

Running out of Gold

Since the planet has a finite supply of gold, running out of the natural resource is conceivable. According to US Geological Survey estimates, there is only about 52,000 tons of mineable gold still in the ground. Global gold mining, however, adds about 2,500-3,000 tons to the overall above-ground stock of gold each year. By those estimates, there may be only about 17 more years of underground gold left to mine.

Things, however, aren’t that simple. Gold reserves, for example, have remained unchanged since 1995—despite the mining of 2,500 tons of gold each year. That’s because new discoveries and old mine developments are keeping pace with current mine production.

If the thought of running out of gold is still unnerving, consider this: gold can be recycled. That’s why we can’t run out of gold like we would a non-renewable resource, like oil. If gold mines were to tap out the Earth’s natural supply, the gold industry would simply transition from mining to recycling.

Recycling Gold

Fortunately, we haven’t run out of gold yet. But why wait to start recycling? Because gold is so stable and valuable, it can be recycled with no degradation in quality and repurposed without the need for new mining.

According to the World Gold Council, at least 15 percent of the annual gold consumption is from recycled gold. In fact, if the world recycled less than 3 percent of the existing gold supplies, it could satisfy most of the global demand. Jewelers who sell their gold scrap contribute to the large amount of gold that re-enters the market each year via precious metal recycling.

Finding an Experienced Gold Refiner

Since 1985, businesses from all over the world have come to Manhattan Gold & Silver to sell their scrap gold lots. Scrap gold buyers are critical to the gold supply chain. About 1,000 tons of gold are recycled each year to meet annual market demands, which is higher than what is produced through mining alone.

If you’re selling your gold lot or any other kind of precious metal, contact us and learn how our refining services can put revenue back into your business. Gold, mining, gold recycling

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