Cape Precious Metals is one of only a few refineries in South Africa that are equipped to recover Platinum group metals from waste material. The list of items we refine includes sweeps, solutions, polishings, filings, sludge and old solids like jewellery, trophies, cutlery and tea sets. By utilising modern techniques we ensure maximum recovery and returns, and all gold, platinum & palladium refined at our facilities has a purity of 99.99%.

Refining tips for best returns

Cape Precious Metals Refining Services

“Refining is a precious responsibility that has been entrusted to us. Our clients are welcome to arrange with us to be present while we prepare, melt and scan their material”
~ Sharon Eades, Managing Director

We have preparation/melting stations and assay facilities in Germiston, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Our Head Office in Cape Town houses our full refinery and has a division that extracts silver from redundant X-Ray film, generating 999 silver, which is alloyed, and beneficiated into ready-to-use products for jewellers.

We also offer CAD design, wax model and casting services as well as in-house assay facilities.

Ask us about our free refining containers for your waste & scrap

Refining Resources

  • Recycling of Precious Metals and Basic Refining Process
    • Recycling of Precious Metals

      •  CPM has the facility to recycle the waste material to it’s pure state and manufacture various alloys and products for the jewellery industry.
      •  Our alloy department processes the fine metals to suit the manufacturing jewellers’ needs.
      •  The fine metal is alloyed, granulated and can be manufactured into bar, plate, solder and wire .
      •  Different base metals are added to the fine metals to produce the various alloys.
      •  The alloys vary in carat, color and for the working processes.

      Basic Refining Process

      •  Different Processes are used to prepare and refine waste material.
      •  Waste material vary in concentration and elements.
      •  Low grade material can have as little as 0.1% precious metal content.
      •  Where high grade material can have 90% and more precious metal content.
      •  The final stage of the process is always in the laboratory where chemicals and filtration is used to remove impurities and separate the various elements.

  • Refining Turnaround Times
    • Turnaround times for the various refining jobs … these are working days and don’t include time spent in transit to our Cape Town refinery:

      Carpet 15 -20 Days
      Sweeps 15 Days
      Polishing 10 Days
      Sludge 15 Days
      Bench Sweeps 3 -5 Days
      Clean Filings (Gold & silver) 2- 3 Days
      Clean Filings (Platinum & palladium) 5 Days
  • Regulatory Documents
  • See how we refine various kinds of precious metal
    • Old Gold and Solids

      Stages and preparation of refining:

      •  The Clients metal is weighed in and a job card prepared.
      •  A magnet is run through the material to detect non-precious metals.
      •  The metal is homogeneously melted and drilled for assay.
      •  The drilling is sent to our assay technician for analysis.
      •  The material is then sent to the laboratory for refining.
      •  Gold is oxidized by chemicals and dissolved as gold chlorides.
      •  Nitrogen oxide is removed and the fumes neutralized by means of a scrubber. Base metals are dissolved leaving the precious metals in solution. Each metal is then selectively precipitated.

      Filings and Bench Sweeps

      •  Gold, Silver and Platinum filings are calcined to remove organic matter and impurities.
      •  A magnet is then run through the material to remove iron filings and sawblades.
      •  Flux is added to melt the filings into a button or bar.
      •  The button is then drilled, assayed and sent to the laboratory.

      Sweeps and Carpets

      •  This process is different and more time-consuming than the previous two.
      •  The sweep is spread out in a large tray. A full description of the contents are recorded and the sweep is photographed.
      •  The material is incinerated, calcined, milled and sieved leaving us with a fine powder.
      •  A sample of the powder is sent to an independent assay laboratory.
      •  Flux is added to the powder which is smelted in our gas furnace and poured into an ingot . This is drilled for assay and sent to the laboratory for refining.
      •  The precious metals recovered must be equal to the expected yields calculated from assay.

      Platinum and Palladium

      •  These are white metals and belong to the Platinum group metals: PGM’s.
      •  The refining process is extensive and costly.
      •  We are one of a few refineries in S.A. that are equipped to recover PGM’s from waste material.


Silver Recovery Resources

  • Profiting
    • Recovering silver from waste solutions such as those produced by the popular processing of medical and industrial X-ray films, photographic films and pictures, as well as graphic films, papers and plates is a concept that has been practiced for over 100 years.  However the economic viability of the process has radically changed in recent years.

      Silver is consumed in endless ways, from medical eye drops to lubricants for jet engines.  It is used by every hospital, medical clinic and dentist, as well as by X-ray departments, photo processors, printers and anyone engaging wet-solution photo processing.

      Our methods of recovery offer the opportunity to earn faster paybacks, which means faster profits.  We essentially use two methods of recovery, namely ELECTROLYSIS and PASSIVE RECOVERY.

      All film i.e. X-rays, Negatives used for Newspaper or your camera spool all has Silver emulsified.  When the film is processed through fixer the Silver washes off the film and the image is developed on the film.  There is now silver in the fixer and some left on the film.

      Various methods of recovering the Silver are used.

      1. Electrolysis – most commonly used.  A stainless steel drum with current attracts the silver.  The silver is stripped off the drum and the by-product called flake is sent for refining – usually 90% – 95% pure.
      2. By adding chemicals, which cause the silver to form sludge – this is then dried and refined.  The sludge is usually 30% pure.
      3. Silver Traps – are also used to extract silver.  This is a container with a cartridge – the fixer filters through the container and the Silver is trapped in the cartridge
      4. Companies such as CPM collect fixer, bleach fixer and exposed film from litho printing companies, photo labs and Hospitals. We extract the silver from the waste material and process to pure silver which is sold to the silver industry.  The Jewellery Industry uses a large portion of the recovered silver.

      It is difficult to say how much silver is extracted over a year. More interesting is the quantity of silver in the film & fixer.  X-ray film has an average of 7.5g per kilogram while negatives have 9g / kg and camera film 2g / kg. Fixer varies according to how the film is processed but average at 3.0 grams per liter.

      The silver price fluctuates daily and is based on the London Metal Exchange price and the U.S.Dollar.

  • Sources of Silver
    • FIXER is the liquid used in photography to fix or clear the film of unexposed and undeveloped portions. The substance of these areas of film are made up of halides- a mixture in varying proportions of silver in the form of silver iodide, silver bromide, and silver chloride which turns black when it is exposed to light and developed. The fixer causes the silver halides to dissolve off the film. The developed metallic silver that is black remains on the film or paper. This process applies only to black and white (monochrome) photography such as graphic arts photography, radiography, and microphotography.

      Colour photography works on a different principle and will be described under ‘ bleach fix ‘. The monochrome method places a certain amount of available silver in the fixer and a certain quantity remains on the film or paper.

      On a chest X- ray, there is minimal black area and large amounts of white, clear area. Thus the silver is mainly dissolved and the fixer is rich in silver. On an X-ray of a leg there is a great deal of black area, meaning a lot of silver on the film and very little in the fixer. A 35mm film has a low silver content and industrial X- ray has very high content.

      Graphic arts fixer frequently is able to be well loaded with silver before it needs to be discarded but the fixer used for bromide prints must be discarded after short use only; this is because of the sensitivity of bromide paper if under- fixed. Brown stains on old photographs are the result of insufficient fixing. The bottom line of this is that all fixers vary in strength  – i.e. silver content. The content can be tested using any of the following methods: (1) Atomic Absorption (2) Specific ion electrode (3) Chloride (4) Merck paper and (5) Copper rod.

       is the chemical used in the final fixer in the colour film and colour print process. It works by dissolving all remaining silver off the film.

      When colour film is made there are layers of colour sensitive emulsions, printing out as yellow, cyan blue and magenta (red shade). The light being exposed onto the film passes through the silver emulsion and affects the colour emulsions according to the effects of the filters. After developing, the silver, which is part of the photograph, has been removed during development and all the rest is entirely removed when it is finally fixed in bleach – fix. Thus it must be remembered that as far as silver recovery is concerned there is no recoverable silver in processed colour film or colour print paper.

       must be divided into various kinds that become available, because they would all have varying amounts of silver.

      “Green” film is the term given to unexposed, undeveloped film. X- ray film, prior to processing is green and this is how the film is named.

      “Graphic Arts” films, before development, are pink, purple, brown, blue – just to name a few of the colours. This we also call it “unexposed litho”

      Even X – Ray films are not consistently green. Some types of film are single sided and so have a backing of a different colour.
      Normal standard “radiographic” film is coated on both sides of the sheet and so both sides are green. All other films are coated on one side only with some sort of backing on the other side.

      Radiographic film, before processing has a high silver content. To remove the silver, it must be washed in fixer and the fixer then electrolysed.


  • Recovery Techniques
    • Recovery: Electrolysis

      This process involves the plating out of silver by means of an electrical process. The fixer/bleach is firstly poured into a plating bath. This bath is equipped with carbon bars, through which a positive charge is passed, and a stainless steel drum, through which a negative charge is passed. The spindle oscillates, causing agitation.  The positive charge repels the silver in the solution towards the drum, causing the silver to plate onto the drum, which is negatively charged.

      •  Silver is in stripped off the drum as flake.
      •  The purity of the flake at this stage is between 90% and 95%.
      •  CPM boast an in-house refinery where we refine our silver to 999 purity.
      •  The silver is processed to various alloys and sold to the manufacturing jewelers industry.

      We add value to the silver by making various silver products such as wire and sheet.

      Silver is also use in various gold alloys.


      Recovery: Passive

      This system facilitates the installation of a TRAP on our clients’ premises. The fixer drips directly from the processor into the trap, which comprises a metallic mesh. The Metallics of the mesh “trap” the silver from the solution as it passes through the cell. Once the trap is saturated (i.e. the silver is no longer trapped) we replace the inner cell and send the saturated unit for refining.


      There are a number of advantages to this method of recovery:

      •  COST EFFECTIVE. (ONE TRAP TAKES up to 40 X 25 LTRS.)


      •  The unit can not be used in photo laboratories.
      •  Wash/rinse water may not be flushed through the unit. The silver will dissolve and the trap will not longer be effective.



(servicing Western Cape & Namibia)
TEL: +27 (0)21 551 2066
FAX: +27 (0)21 552 7792

CPM Building
Link Close
Montague Gardens


(servicing Gauteng, Northern
Provinces & Botswana)
TEL: +27 (0)11 334 6263
FAX: +27 (0)11 334 6947

Unit 32, Sunnyrock Park
3 Sunrock Close


(servicing KwaZulu-Natal,
Free State & Northern Cape)
TEL:+ 27 (0)31 303 5402
FAX: +27 (0)31 303 5403

Unit 9, Cypress Park
19 Cypress Drive
Glen Anil


(servicing Eastern Cape)
TEL: +27 (0)41 365 1890
FAX: +27 (0)41 365 1901

88 Hurd Street
Newton Park

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