Glossary of terms

ALLOY - A solid mixture of two or more chemical elements, including at least one metal. In the case of gold, it is mixed with a baser metal or metals to lower the purity, influence the colour or add durability.

ANODE - Generally refers to impure copper cast into a special shape for incorporating into an electrolytic refinery for the final purification process.

ASSAY – The testing of gold or silver to determine its fineness or purity.

ASSAY MARK - The stamp by an assayer on a bar or piece of precious metal to guarantee its fineness.

BENEFICIATION - Quite a buzzword these days, in the gold sector, beneficiation of product means adding value to gold beyond the price at which gold is traded internationally.

BLANK - A blank disc of metal with milled edges used to make a coin.

BULLION – The generic word for gold and silver in bar or ingot form.

BULLION ASSAY - Analysis of Gold and Silver in bullion using Proof-Corrected Fire Assay. Sample types include mine bullion, fine gold and jewellery as well as dental alloys.

BULLION COINS - Contemporary precious metal coins minted by official agencies in unlimited numbers for investment purposes.

CARAT -
  1. A measure of the weight of precious stones. 1 carat = 0.2053 gm
  2. A measure of the proportion of gold in a gold alloy, on the basis that 24 carat is pure gold, often expressed as K or k, eg 18k is 75% gold.
CAST BAR - A cast bar is made by the process of forming a bar in a mould (contrast minted bar).

CERTIFIED GOLD - Certification adds one dimension to the requirements of responsible gold by guaranteeing that the gold was also mined with respect to the environment and not recycled from scrap or other secondary, untraceable sources as well as that the chain of custody through refining was traceable.

COMEX - The Commodity Exchange in New York, a division of NYMEX.

CUSTOM SMELTING - Basically this means that materials received from customers (mostly borax slags and dust) are loaded through an arc furnace, mixed with fluxes and reductant to form three major products: slag, metal and flue dust.

DELIVERY - The actual transfer of the ownership of gold or silver. It many not involve physical movement of metal and is usually made by a simple paper transfer in the LBMA clearing system.

DMCC – A strategic initiative of the Dubai government, The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) was created to establish a commodity market place in Dubai, and provide industry-specific market infrastructure and a full range of facilities for the gold and precious metals, diamonds and coloured stones, energy and other commodities industries.

DME – The Department of Minerals and Energy, which is the regulatory body for minerals and energy resources in South Africa.

DORΙ – An unrefined (therefore impure) alloy of gold with variable quantities of silver and smaller quantities of base metals, which is produced at a mine before passing on to a refinery for upgrading to London Good Delivery standard, usually consists of 85% gold on average.

DQS – DQS, based in Germany, is the first assessment and certification organization to be authorized for almost all standards and specifications. The service spectrum comprises assessments according to more than 70 recognized standards and technical or industrial specifications, as well as internal company requirements. Website: www.dqscert.com.

EAGLE – The earliest legal tender US gold coin first minted in 1795. It is 900 fine.

EVALUATION – The evaluation of gold through assaying to assess a measure of purity or fineness of the gold.

FACE VALUE – The value of a coin or paper money, as printed on the coin or bill itself by the minting authority. While the face value usually refers to the true value of the coin or bill in question, it can sometimes be largely symbolic, as is often the case with bullion coins.

FERRULE - A metal ring or cap put around the end of a pole or shaft to prevent splitting or to give added strength.

FINDINGS - Findings are the components that jewellery makers use to assemble their jewellery and include items such as clasps, earring backs and hooks.

FINENESS – The proportion of precious metal in an alloy expressed as parts per 1000.

GOLD – Latin name Aurum. Chemical symbol Au.

GOLD FIXING – Held twice each working day at 10.30am and 3.00pm GMT.

GOLD LOAN – The provision of finance in gold for a gold-related project or business, typically in mining or jewellery inventory finance, which provides a combination of generally inexpensive funding together with built-in hedging.

GOLD STANDARD - A monetary system with a fixed price for gold, and with gold coin either forming the whole circulation of currency with in a country or with notes representing and redeemable in gold.

GOOD DELIVERY - The specification which a bar must meet in order to be acceptable for delivery in a particular market eg London Good Delivery.

GRAIN – One of the earliest units of weight for gold, one grain being the equivalent of one grain of wheat taken from the middle of the ear.

GRANULES – Bullion, including its various alloys presented for sale in granulated form, often referred to as grain.

GREEN GOLD – Please see RESPONSIBLE GOLD

HALLMARK – A mark or number of marks made on gold or silver jewellery and other fabricated products to confirm that the quality is of the fineness marked on the item.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDIZATION ORGANISATION - The ISO is a network of national standards institutes in 153 countries on the basis of one member per country.  The Central Secretariat is based in Geneva and the South African member of the ISO is the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). 

JUST-IN-TIME STOCKS - These are gold or silver bars which are warehoused by the RRL close to the client's premises, to ensure a fast supply when required. The stock is paid for by the client when the metal is taken out of the stock.

KILOBARS - (1000 grams) is the world’s most widely traded small gold bar, popular among investors and jewellery manufacturers as it is normally sold at an extremely low premium above the prevailing value of its gold content.

KRUGERRAND – South African gold coin first issued in 1967 with a fineness of 916.6. The Krugerrand bullion coin, with 180 serrations, is linked to the daily gold price while the proof Krugerrand (with 200 serrations) is available in limited quantities with a yearly fixed price. A proof coin is punched three times and the bullion coin only once. The imagery on the proof coin is frosted whereas the bullion imagery is of the same finish as the rest of the coin.

LEGAL TENDER – Legal tender is payment that, by law, cannot be refused in settlement of a debt denominated in the same currency.

LBMA – The London Bullion Market Association was formally incorporated on 14 December 1987 to represent the interest of the participants in the wholesale bullion market and to encourage the development of the London market in every possible way.

LBMA GOOD DELIVERY LISTS – Lists of acceptable refiners of gold and silver whose bars meet the required standard (of fineness, weight, marks and appearance) of the London Bullion Market Association

LONDON GOOD DELIVERY - This an international standard in terms of which gold bars must have a minimum gold purity of 99.5%.  Central banks normally hold gold in the form of these bars.

LONDON GOOD DELIVERY REFEREE - To become an LBMA-approved London Good Delivery Referee a refinery has to demonstrate its ability to conduct assays of gold and silver to the highest possible levels of precision and accuracy; manufacture gold and silver reference samples free from detectable inhomogeneity, assayed to very high levels of accuracy and meet very demanding sample manufacturing standards (99,5 fineness upwards for gold and 99,9 for silver). All referees have to conduct over 7 000 assays to become accredited.

LONDON METAL EXCHANGE - The London Metal Exchange is the world's premier non-ferrous metals market.

LOCO – The place or location at which a commodity eg. loco London gold, is physically held.

LOGISTICS – The international transport and storage of precious metals, including specialised security due to the nature of the goods.

MILLER CHLORINATION PROCESS - This is a pyrometallurgical process whereby gold dore is heated in furnace crucibles. The process is able to separate gold from impurities by using chlorine gas which is added to the crucibles once the gold is molten. Chlorine gas does not react with gold but will combine with silver and base metals to form chlorides. Once the chlorides have formed they float to the surface as slag or escape as volatile gases. The surface melt and the fumes containing the impurities are collected and further refined to extract the gold and silver.

This process can take up to 90 minutes produces gold which is at least 99.5% pure with silver being the main remaining component. This gold can be cast into bars as 99.5% gold purity meets the minimum London Good Delivery requirements of the London bullion markets.

However some customers such as jewellers and other industrial end users require gold that is almost 100% pure, so further refining is necessary. In this case, gold using the Miller process is cast into anodes which are then sent to an electrolytic plant. The final product is 99.99% pure gold sponge that can then be melted to produce various end products suited to the needs of the customer.

MAPLE LEAF – Canadian gold coin with a fineness of 999.9

MINTED BARS – A bar punched out of a strip of gold which has been produced by continuous casting. The punched out bar is then minted in a purpose-designed minting press, similar to the process used to make coins. (contrast cast bar).

MINTED COIN – A coin punched out of a strip of gold which has been produced by continuous casting. The punched out coin is then minted in a purpose-designed minting press.

NUMISMATICS – The specialized sector of the coin business for the study and collection of rare coins and other media of exchange, particularly those with archaeological and historic interest.

NYMEX – A US futures exchange consisting of two divisions, NYMEX (the New York Mercantile Exchange) and COMEX (the Commodities Exchange).
Website: www.nymex.com.

OHSAS – Occupational Health and Safety Systems Act promulgated by the South African government.

OHSAS Certificate – The Occupational Health and Safety Systems certification.

ORE – Originally from the Old English for crude or unwrought metal. It refers to any economic mineral deposit of precious or other metal.

PARALLEL STREAM SAMPLING - Refers to the process whereby two samples are taken simultaneously from the same feed material in order to verify that the end result would not have a variance of more than 1%. This means that if sample A has a specific grade, sample B should not vary by more than 1% when compared to sample A. If this is not the case, the deposit is resampled to ensure that the required conditions are met.

PLATINUM GROUP METALS - (PGMs) refers to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table. These elements are all transition metals, and include ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties, and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits.

PRECIOUS METALS - Metal of great value being gold, silver, platinum and other platinum group metals.

PRECIOUS METALS ACT - The parliamentary Act regulating precious metals in South Africa. Download the Precious Metals Act of 2005 here.

RANDPURETM GOLD - This mark has been introduced by Rand Refinery as an iconic symbol that not only guarantees responsibility from mine to retail, but also exceptional fineness and craftsmanship. The following codes are used: EC - Excellent Craftsmanship, AF - Absolute Fineness, CF - Conflict Free, VM - Virgin Metal, CD - Contributes to Development. REFINING – The separating and purifying of gold and silver from other metals.

RESPONSIBLE GOLD – All gold produced by Rand Refinery is responsible gold which follows the 'Chain of Custody' requirements consistent with the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development's (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Affected and High Risk Areas. It further complies with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Responsible Gold Guidance and the World Gold Council certification of 'Conflit-Free' gold.

Responsible sourcing of gold includes consideration of the following:
  • No dealings with Conflict Gold:
    • Conflict : armed aggression between two or more parties which leads to severe abuses of human rights
    • Conflict Zone : The area in which armed aggression is taking place
    • Conflict Gold: Gold which enables, fuels or maintains conflict.
  • Safety, health and the environment:
    • The gold is mined and produced without endangering the safety and health of people or damaging the environment.
  • Social responsibility:
    • The gold mining company or entity cares for and uplifts the community in which it operates.
ROLLED GOLD – The process in which a layer of carat gold alloy is mechanically bonded to another metal.

SCRAP GOLD – The broad term for any gold which is sent back to a refiner or processor for recycling

SEMI-FABRICATED JEWELLERY – Gold that has been partically processed to create items that are used by manufacturing jewellers in the creation of jewellery. eg. wire, granules, plates, bangles and rings.

SILVER – Latin name Argentum. The chemical symbol is Ag.

SMELTING – The process of melting ores or concentrates to separate out the metal content from impurities.

SMELTER ASSAY - Analysis of Gold and Silver in “low-grade” Smelter feed material by Lead Collection followed by Cupellation and Parting; also used in conjunction with spectroscopy to determine Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium. Sample types include: slag, matte, carbon and electronic scrap.

SPECTROSCOPY - State of the Art instrumentation includes WDXRF, ICPOES, Spark OES (TRS), UV-VIS and Combustion Analysis (LECO). Sample types include mine bullion, fine gold and silver, high purity gold and silver and jewellery and dental alloys.

STANDARD BAR -

  1. Gold bar weighing approximately 400 ounces of 12.5 kilogram and having a minimum fineness of 995 parts per 1,000 pure gold
  2. Silver bar weighing approximately 1,000 ounces with a minimum fineness of 999
TAEL – Traditional Chinese unit of weight for gold, widely traded in the Far East. 1 tael = 1.20337 troy ounces = 37.4290 grams. The nominal fineness of a Hong Kong tael bar is 99 but in Taiwan 5 and 10 tael bars can be 999.9 fine.

TOCOM – The Tokyo Commodity Exchange, established in 1984. Website: www.tocom.or.jp.

TOLA - Traditional Indian unit of weight for gold
1 tola = 0.375 troy ounces = 11.6638 grams. The most popular sized bar is 10 tola = 3.75 troy ounces. Tola Bars: An Indian unit of weight, the most popular size being the 10 tola (equivalent to 116.64 grams).  These bars are used widely in jewellery manufacture and are traded in the Middle and Far East.

TROY OUNCE - A unit of measure equivalent to 31.1034768 grams of gold.

VAULT - A place of safekeeping for precious metals, with high security measures in place for access.

WET CHEMICAL - Traditional Wet Chemical techniques including gravimetric, titrometric and potentiometric.
Sample types include solutions, effluents and electrolytes.

WHITE GOLD - A gold alloy containing whitening agents such as silver, palladium or nickel as well as other base metals. Often used as a setting for diamond jewellery.

WOHLWILL PROCESS - The electrolytic method of gold refining was first developed by Dr. Emil Wohlwill of Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg in 1874. Dr. Wohlwill’s process is based on the solubility of gold but the insolubility of silver in an electrolyte solution of gold chloride (AuCl3) in hydrochloric acid.


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