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This blog discusses The Perth Mint's bullion coins and bars, providing information about our latest designs, mintages, sales volumes and sell outs. On a broader front, we share relevant research and opinions for anyone interested in gold and silver bullion investing.

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The Quest For Conflict-Free Metals Continues

Topics [ gold market gold refining gold refinery gold mining ]

CONFLICT-FREE METALS

Concerned consumers, organisations, and governments around the world continue to shine a light on conflict minerals. These tainted commodities are traded by private armed groups for monetary gain to finance civil conflicts and violence which contribute to the violation of human rights. Thus, the quest for ‘responsible’ and ethically sourced minerals is becoming more and more prevalent.

Conflict minerals, which can include gold ore, are smuggled out of countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and parts of Afghanistan, Columbia, and Zimbabwe, and shipped to smelters around the world for refinement. Once processed, it is near impossible to trace their origin. These minerals then enter global supply chains and end up being used in many applications, including popular consumer products such as mobile phones, televisions, laptops, and jewellery.

 

As companies become increasingly aware of the adverse effects of buying conflict minerals they are endeavouring to examine and investigate their supply chains, conducting due diligence in an effort to ensure they source their minerals responsibly, thus preventing conflict minerals from entering global markets.

The Perth Mint is one such company that has implemented a Conflict Metals and Supply Chain Policy.

Operating one of the largest gold refining operations in the world, The Perth Mint is committed to boycotting conflict gold and other minerals, with its supply chain due diligence systems and procedures compliant with the ‘responsible’ gold guidelines presented by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In 2012, The Perth Mint also became one of the world’s first three gold refiners to be certified under the internationally recognised Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP) developed by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and Global Sustainability Initiative (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative. The voluntary program provides credible third-party valuation of a smelter’s procurement activities to verify that the refiner can be deemed conflict-free.  

In addition to refining the majority of Australia’s newly mined gold, The Perth Mint also processes gold doré from surrounding countries, and jewellery scrap from Australia and Asia, and thus acknowledges it is extremely difficult to determine the origins of all recycled, second-hand or scrap gold.

“We are aware that gold mined in conflict countries has the potential to indirectly make its way to our refinery, so we are vigilant in our investigations into the credibility of our sources,” said Perth Mint Chief Operating Officer, David Woodford.

A positive assessment under the Conflict-Free Smelter Program’s authentication protocols gives Perth Mint customers assurance that the gold which passes through its refining facility is obtained from trustworthy sources.

Operating a fully integrated precious metals business, the refining of gold is the initial stage in the production of The Perth Mint’s extensive range of bullion, commemorative and industrial products.  With its activities and the quality of its products and services guaranteed by the Government of Western Australia, its ban of conflict metals is vital to its success. 

“With increasing institutional and private ownership of gold in the form of bullion bars and coins, the issue of conflict minerals is paramount for our investors, so we want to be sure we are providing them with socially responsible products,” he continued.

Today, there are now 80 conflict-free gold refiners across the world, which are recognised by the CFSP.

This article was originally published by The Gold Industry Goup, the independent industry body which promotes the importance of the gold sector in Australia.



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LBMA Grants The Perth Mint A Full Member

Topics [ gold refining gold refinery ]

NEWS

Having met the relevant criteria, The Perth Mint has recently been granted ‘Full Membership’ of the prestigious London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

The Mint previously held an Associate Membership for a number of years and this enhancement acknowledges our ongoing commitment to the global precious metals market, and reflects our outstanding relationship with the LBMA.

As a ‘Full Member’, which represents the highest level of membership, The Perth Mint will now be able to vote on various issues deliberated upon at the Association’s Annual General Meetings, nominate candidates for LBMA Committees, and sponsor applications from other companies applying to become Members or Associates.

The LBMA is the international trade association that represents the market for gold and silver bullion. For more information, please visit www.lbma.org.uk.

Previously on the blog: Manufacturer Accreditation Provides Comfort To Investors



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Perth Mint First Refinery Accredited By Shanghai Gold Exchange

Topics [ gold refining gold refinery ]

REFINERY

Last week The Perth Mint was the first refinery to be officially recognised by the Shanghai Gold Exchange. While The Perth Mint’s bars have been imported into China for many years, the accreditation provides assurance to Chinese firms that the Mint’s bars are “good delivery”.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange accreditation confirms The Perth Mint’s standing as one of the most widely accepted marks in the international gold market, which it has been servicing for over 115 years. In addition to the Shanghai Gold Exchange accreditation, he Perth Mint’s brand is recognised by other leading gold and silver markets, including:

  London Bullion Market Association - first listed circa 1928

  CME Group (COMEX) - listed here

  Tokyo Commodity Exchange – listed here

  Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange – listed here

China has become a major destination for the approximately 300 tonnes ($12 billion) of gold The Perth Mint refines from Australian and other regional mines each year.

Clarification: The Perth Mint is the first non-Chinese refinery to be recognised. SGE has accredited domestic refineries for many years.



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Perth Mint Refinery Passes LBMA Responsible Gold Audit

Topics [ gold refining gold refinery ]

REFINERY

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) has announced that The Perth Mint Refinery has successfully passed its Responsible Gold Audit Programme.

It said compliance had been confirmed by an independent third-party audit of the refinery’s production over a 12 month period. The process is on-going.

Since January 2012, all LBMA Good Delivery Gold Refiners have been required to comply with the LBMA Responsible Gold Guidance in order to combat systematic or widespread abuses of human rights, to avoid contributing to conflict, to comply with high standards of anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing practice.



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Gold And Silver Refining Explained

Topics [ gold refining gold refinery ]

EDUCATION

The Perth Mint has refined gold since its establishment in 1899. Today, we refine most of Australia’s gold production, gold from surrounding regions, silver, and scrap gold jewellery mainly from Asian countries. Typically, we process between 300 and 400 tonnes of precious metals each year, which makes The Perth Mint refinery one of the largest in the world.

Ever wondered how gold and silver refining is carried out?

Gold Refining

Gold mines process ore using various techniques to produce an alloy composed primarily of gold and silver, which is called a doré bar. The composition of doré can vary significantly between mines, but generally the gold doré bars The Perth Mint processes are composed of between 70-80% gold and 10-15% silver.

Doré bars are first weighed and melted to ensure the metal is homogenous, that is, that there are no pockets of high or low purity within the bar. A sample is taken from this melted doré and assayed to determine the exact amount of gold and silver present.

The miner then receives an outturn, which is a statement indicating the weight of the doré bar, the percentage of gold and silver in the bar, and from these two, a calculated amount of pure gold and silver. Miners will then either sell this pure gold and silver for cash, or request a loco swap. The doré bar then becomes the property of the refiner.

The doré bar first goes through a chlorine refining process, also known as the Miller process – originally developed at the Sydney Mint by Francis Bowyer Miller (see Australian Dictionary of Biography). It involves bubbling chlorine gas through the molten doré metal. Silver (and most other metals) react with the chlorine to form silver chloride as a slag on top. This process produces gold to a purity of 99.5%, which is usually cast directly into odd weight 400oz bars used in the wholesale markets.

The key output of the chlorine refining process is silver chloride, which enters a silver leaching process to remove the base metals. The silver chloride is then reduced to metallic silver and is then refined by electrolysis.

If there is demand in the market for higher purity gold, then the 99.5% pure gold from the chlorine refining process is cast into anodes to be used in the electrolytic refining process, also known as the Wohlwill process. The anodes are placed into a bath of hydrochloric acid and an electric current is passed through it, which causes the gold to dissolve and then deposit on a cathode at a purity of 99.99%.

The resulting cathodes are melted, granulated and the granules are then used to measure out exact weights of gold for casting into bar sizes from kilo (32.15 ounces) down to half ounce.

Silver Refining

The composition of silver doré bars The Perth Mint processes are composed of around 90% silver and 10% gold. As with gold doré, the silver doré is weighed, melted, assayed and outturned.

The electrolytic silver refining process is similar to gold, except that the silver anodes are dissolved in a bath of nitric acid. The resulting cathodes are 99.9% pure silver. As with small gold bar production, these cathodes are melted, granulated and cast into retail sized bars (most common being 100oz or kilo).

Gold and silver refining process

The diagram gives an overview of the key processes involved in the refining of gold and silver. Please note that this is highly simplified and does not detail the many sub-processes involved within each key process, the chemical inputs involved in each process, as well how the waste outputs from each process are handled.



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Perth Mint Gold Certified Conflict-Free

Topics [ gold refinery gold ]

REFINERY

David Woodford, General Manager, Perth Mint Refinery, reports on the Conflict-Free Smelter Program.

The Perth Mint’s endorsement under the internationally recognised Conflict-Free Smelter Program will provide further customer assurance that our gold is obtained from ethically trustworthy sources.

As with blood diamonds, ‘conflict minerals’ are alleged to be traded by armed groups for financial gain in war-torn areas of Africa. The problem primarily affects the Democratic Republic of Congo, where local militias are reported to demand taxes, bribes or other payments for the country’s rich mineral deposits.

Minerals smuggled out of the DRC are shipped to smelters around the world for refinement. Once the minerals are processed, it’s difficult to trace their origin. Conflict minerals, including gold, can end up being used in many applications, including products popular with global consumers.

Developed by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the voluntary Conflict-Free Smelter Program provides credible third-party evaluation of a smelter’s procurement activities.

The Perth Mint is one of the first three gold refiners to demonstrate compliance with the Program’s validation protocols, which covers new gold production from mines and recycling, and withdrawal from existing stocks of gold.

As one of the largest gold refiners in the world, we take our responsibility to avoid conflict minerals extremely seriously, which is reflected in our own Conflict Metals Policy.

With increasing private ownership of gold in the form of bullion bars and coins, this is also an issue for many investors on whose behalf we are committed to providing socially responsible products.

Our positive assessment under the Conflict-Free Smelter Program is a powerful demonstration of our determination to ensure that our refining operations remain conflict metal free.



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