Gold 2011

All Gold Roads Lead to the Rand Refinery

Jennifer Leigh Parker, |Writer,
Production of gold bars is seen at the Rand Refinery in South Africa.
Henner Frankenfeld | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

With record demand for gold, refiners are busier than ever.

The Rand Refinery outside of Johannesburg is the largest gold refiner in the world. It has produced more than 40,000 tons of gold since opening nearly a century ago, which is delivered all over the globe to: banks, mints, industrial manufacturers and jewelry makers.

"Once the weight has been verified we sent the dore [unrefined gold] to this department to be evaluated," says Roger Cumede, Rand Refinery process leader. Evaluating purity, he says, is a crucial part of the process. 

Here's how the gold refinement process works: Directly from the mines, the raw material pre-refinement is roughly 80 percent to 90 percent pure gold.

A glimpse into the process:

  • Gold placed onto conveyor belts, and dried
  • Officially weighed
  • Evaluated for purity
  • Melted again
  • Now purified into 99.5 percent pure gold
  • Poured into bars, each weighing about 26 pounds
  • Each bar is smelted, cooled, and stamped with a serial number.

Stamped with a unique serial number and the seal of the refinery, the gold will be sent around the globe to places such as London or New York, the epicenters of the gold buillion market.