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Glossary of Terms Glossary of Terms


Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.
This is a work in progress at the moment. If you see an entry that should be here but is not, please email to me via the contacts page and I will add it


Physical commodities as opposed to futures contracts or the commodity that underlies a futures contract.

Chemical symbol of silver, from its Latin name “Argentum.”

A light, ductile and malleable silver-white metal. The chemical symbol for aluminum is Al.

Allocated Metal:
Assigning defined quantities of physical metals to specific accounts. For example, if an investor buys shares in a gold exchange-traded fund, each share is backed by a defined amount of physical gold.

A substance having metallic properties and combined by the fusion or diffusion of two or more chemical elements, of which at least one is an elemental metal. Silver with a purity less than .999 is an alloy.

Sedimentary material from running water, sometimes containing precious metals, which is deposited in river beds, flood plains, lakes or at the foot of mountain slopes.

A mixture with mercury and silver, gold, copper or another metal, known since classical times. A major use is in dentistry.

Simultaneously buying and selling a commodity in different markets to take advantage of price differentials.

English term used for silver, based on Latin term “Argentum."

A silver sulphide mineral, the main ore for silver. The chemical formula for argentite is Ag2S.

The price at which a dealer offers to sell.

Analytical test or trial to ascertain the fineness, or purity, and consistency of precious and other metals.

Atomic mass:
The mass of one atom of an element.

The chemical symbol for gold.

Latin for gold.

Austrian 100 Corona:
Restrike bullion gold coin containing .9802 ounce of gold.

A system of weights for commodities except precious metals, stones, and drugs. One avoirdupois ounce equals 28.35 grams or 437.50 grains. See troy ounce.

A blue mineral containing copper. It is composed of copper carbonate - chemical formula Cu3(CO3)3. It has a hardness of 3.5-4 and produces a blue streak when scratched on a white tile.

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A market situation in which prices are progressively lower in future months than in the nearest month. Opposite of "Contango."

Materials, such as silver salts, that kill bacteria.

Base metals:
Metals that are not noble or precious and serve as a base for any object clad or covered with precious metals.

The variation between the spot price of a deliverable and the relative price of the futures for the same actual that has the shortest duration until maturity.

Bear Market:
A market where prices are falling or expected to fall.

The bid price is the price at which a dealer is willing to buy a commodity; opposite of "ask"

Biological Leaching:
A process for the dissolution of metals from ores using bacterial action.

Blast Furnace:
A furnace where mixed charges of oxide or sulfide ores (copper, iron, lead, tin, etc.), fluxes and fuels are blown with a continuous blast of hot air and sometimes oxygen-enriched air to force combustion for the chemical reduction of ores with metals to their metallic states.

Blast Hole:
A hole drilled in rock for blasting with explosives, rather than for exploration and geological information.

Boiler room:
An enterprise that uses high pressure sales tactics, false or misleading information, and scare tactics, generally over the telephone, to sell overpriced or worthless investments to unsophisticated investors.

Brazing Alloys:
See "silver solder".

Bright Finish:
Highly polished, mirror-like finish produced with jewelers rouge on a polishing wheel.

Brilliant uncirculated, used to describe a coin in new condition.

Polishing metal with a flexible, rotating abrasive wheel.

Precious metals in the form of bars, wafers and ingots in tradable form of .995 purity or finer.

Bull Market:
A market where prices are rising or expected to rise.

Bullion Coin:
A precious metal coin traded at the current bullion price + premium.

A secondary or additional mineral or mineral product from a mine, refinery or a secondary refinery.

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Call Option:
An option giving the right but not the obligation to go long at a specific price on or before a particular date.

Canadian Maple Leaf:
Modern bullion coin minted by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Cash Market or Price:
The physical commodity or the price required for immediate settlement. Also known as "spot price."

The formation of objects by pouring molten metal into molds.

A chemical (metal) substance by which its mere presence accelerates, assists, retards or permits a chemical reaction but remains chemically unchanged in nature or amount at the end of the reaction.

Mexican 50 Peso.

a broker or dealer who changes his position on an investment to what he thinks will cause an investor to enter into a transaction.

Commercial Silver:
Silver that is .999 fine (99.9%) or higher, usually sold and shipped in 1000 oz. bars.

A stamped piece of metal of a known weight and fineness issued for commerce.

Coin of the realm:
A legal tender coin issued by a government, meant for general circulation.

One of the worlds major commodities / futures exchanges where gold and silver are traded. The Comex is in New York City and is a division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

legal tender coins or medallions usually minted of gold or silver to commemorate themes, events, places, or people.

Raw materials that can be bought and sold.

Commodity pool:
A venture, usually a limited partnership, in which investors contribute funds for the purpose of buying commodities.

Complex Ore:
An ore containing a number of minerals, one or more of which are of economic value, usually implying difficulty in the extraction or separation of the valuable metals.

An enriched fraction of an ore after separation from other unwanted minerals.

A measure of the ability of a metal to conduct an electrical current.

Contango market:
A normal futures market in which prices are higher in the succeeding delivery months than in the nearest delivery month. Opposite of backwardation.

An agreement between two or more parties enforceable by law. When applied to commodities, it is an agreement to accept or deliver a specific amount of the commodity on a certain date.

Core Sample:
The long cylinder of rock, about one inch or more in diameter recovered by diamond drilling during exploration.

A decline in prices following a rise in a market.

Cut and Fill:
A method of stoping where ore is removed in slices, or lifts, after which the excavated slice or lift is filled with rock or other waste material known as backfill, before the next ore is mined.

To offset a short futures or options position.

The extraction of gold or silver by dissolving it in a weak solution of alkali metal cyanide.

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The tender of the actual commodity such as silver or gold against a short position in futures during the period allowed by the futures contract.

Delivery month:
The calendar month in which the futures contract matures and within which the delivery of the physical commodity is stipulated.

A financial instrument derived from a cash market commodity, futures contract, or other financial instrument. Derivatives can be traded on regulated exchanges or over-the-counter. Futures contracts, for example, are derivatives of physicals commodities, and options on futures are derivatives of futures contracts.

Differential floatation:
An after-milling process for the separation of an ore from associated gangue or waste rock, whereby more than one valuable mineral is floated and separated, one from the other, as well as from the waste constituents of the ore.

Premiums paid in the market for grades better than the basic grade or discounts allowed for lower grades.

Incorporation of low grade mineralization or waste rock with ore during mining operations.

Doré Bullion:
An impure alloy of silver and gold produced at a mine; often 35 percent silver,65 percent gold.

Doré Silver:
Crude silver that contains some gold.

Double Eagles:
U.S. $20 gold coins used as legal tender 1850-1933. Double Eagles contain.9675 ounce of gold and come in two designs: the St. Gaudens (Walking Liberty) and the Liberty.

The capacity of a metal to be hammered into a thin sheet or drawn into a fine wire without breaking.

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The process used for refining precious and other metals in which an electric current passes through an electrolyte (chemical solution) from anode to cathode. Impure metal dissolves at the anode and pure metal is deposted to the cathode.

The process by which a thin layer of precious or other metal of varying thickness and finess is electrically deposited onto the surface of another material such as base metal.

A place where business is carried on by brokers; generally refers to one of the major stock or commodity exchanges.

The prospecting, diamond drilling or other work involved in searching for ore.

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A company which makes fabricated or semi-fabricated products such as wire, cable, tubes, strip, rods, etc. from refined metals and occasionally from scrap.

Face value:
The legal monetary value stamped on a coin.

Feasibility Study:
A refinement and reassessment of the prefeasibilty study, based on extensive additional information, detailed engineering and optimization work. This provides a level of confidence so that a decision to build the project can be made.

Fiat money:
Paper money made legal tender by law, although not backed by gold or silver.

The open area or background on a coin.

A measure of the purity equal to the number of parts of pure silver in 1000 parts of the alloy; represents the purity of precious metals, either in monetary or bullion form. A gold bar of .995 fineness contains 995 parts gold and 5 parts of another metal. Example: the American Gold Eagle is .9167 fine, which means it is 91.67% gold. A Canadian Maple Leaf has a fineness of .999, meaning that it is 99.9% pure.

Fine Ounce:
A troy ounce of "pure" precious metal.

Fine Silver:
Pure silver whereby 1000 parts fine or 999.5 parts (or higher) per 1000 parts silver. This grade of silver is used to make bullion bars for international commodities trading. In the modern world Fine Silver is understood to be too soft for general use..

Fine Weight:
The actual weight of the pure gold or silver contained in a coin, ingot, bar or other item with a precious metal content, determined by multiplying the gross weight by the fineness, as opposed to the items total weight, which includes the weight of the alloying component. Example: a 1-oz Gold Eagle has a fine weight of one troy ounce but a gross weight of 1.0909 troy ounce.

Fix or Fixing:
The setting of the precious metals prices once each day by the authorized dealers in London, England. The set prices are used by authorizied dealers to buy and sell precious metals for their clients.

The process in which ore is separated from gangue. Ore is agitated in a bath of special liquid so the metallic ore fraction either rises or sinks to the bottom and the gangue does the opposite.

Forward Contract:
A cash market transaction in which two parties agree to the purchase and sale of a commodity at some future date.

A commodity contract is a commitment which requires delivery or receipt of a commodity at an agreed future date, at an agreed price established by public auction in the trading pit of an organized public commodity exchange.

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Waste rock surrounding and/or within an ore which must be separated in order to extract the desired mineral.

Gold/Silver Ratio:
The number of ounces of silver that can be bought with one ounce of gold.

Gold Eagle:
A modern gold bullion coin struck by the USmint.

Gold standard:
A monetary system based on convertibility into gold; paper money backed and interchangeable with gold.

Good Delivery Bar:
A silver or gold bar that meets the good delivery requirements of the London Bullion Market Association. Good delivery bars are the medium for international trading.

The amount of silver or other metal per metric ton of ore, expressed in grams or kilograms respectively, i.e. the standard set for judging the quality of a mineral, metal or commodity.

Grading service:
Grading service: a company that grades numismatic coins. Generally, graded coins are encapsulated in plastic, a procedure called "slabbing." PCGS and NGC are the two dominant grading services in the United States.

(1) One of the earliest units of weight in which one grain was the equivalent of a grain of wheat taken from the middle of the ear. (2) Spherical particles of silver grain widely sold in the jewelry trade for alloying, made by pouring molten silver into water.

The basic unit of weight of the metric system. (31.1035 grams = one troy ounce).

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A stamped symbol on silver objects guaranteeing that the metal conforms to certain legal quality standards. also showing place of origin.

A variety of financial instruments used to guarantee the price to be received or paid on certain commodities such as gold, silver, interest rates, crude oil or currencies.

High Grade:
The best or richest ore in a deposit.

Host Rock:
Rock in which a deposit of precious metals or other minerals occurs.

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A mass of silver or gold cast in a mold, or stamped from sheet.

Intrinsic value:
The value of a coins metal content.

The working stock of a refiner, jewelery manufacturer, wholesales or bullion dealer.

Inverted market:
A situation in which prices for future deliveries are lower than the spot price. Also known as backwardation.

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Joint venture:
A mineral exploration program or mine operation funded by two or more parties.

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A measure of the purity of a precious metal. Pure gold is 24 karat.

Kilo bar:
A bar weighing one kilogram (32.1507 troy ounces).

1,000 grams (32.1507 troy ounces).

Australian platinum coin, minted since 1987,.995 fine. (or a small furry animal).

South African gold coin.

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The extraction of a soluble metallic compound from ore by dissolving the metalsin a solvent.

The practice by banks and bullion dealers of lending silver at an annual rate of interest, to jewelry manufacturers and other professional users of the metal to provide part of their working stock.

Legal tender:
Currency in specified denominations which a creditor is compelled by law to accept as payment of a debt.

The inscription on a coin.

The quality of being readily convertible into cash.

London Price:
Two daily bidding sessions in London of five major gold firms, at which the price of gold is "fixed" or set. See "Fix or Fixing."

A frosty appearance on the surface of a coin, usually an uncirculated coin.

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The property of metals being deprived of form, accepting deformation under pressure, hammering or rolling without breaking.

Maple Leafs:
Modern gold, silver, and platinum coins minted by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Market value:
The price at which a coin or bullion item trades.

A round piece of metal resembling a coin but not a "coin of the realm." A medallion may be issued by a government or private mint. The Engelhard 1-oz silver prospector is a privately-minted medallion.

The science of extracting, smelting, refining alloying and fabricating metals.

Mexican 50 Peso:
A gold coin first issued in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mexicos independence. The Mexican 50 Pesos in the bullion coin market normally are restrikes, minted from 1943 onward. Weight: 1.2057 troy ounce,.900 fine.

Metric ton:
1,000 kilograms or 32,151 troy ounces.

The plant facility where the ore is reduced through crushing and grinding, then it becomes a concentrate through flotation or gravity separations.

Mine Production:
The content of usable ore-concentrates produced from a mine.

Mineral-bearing rock.

The extraction of economically important minerals and ores from the earth.

Mint mark:
A letter or symbol stamped on a coin to identify the minting facility where it was struck.

Mint State:
Describes a coin in uncirculated condition.

Modern issues:
Current coins, whether struck for circulation or for sale to investors or collectors.

The lowest grade of Mint State coins. Higher-grade coins are labeled MS-61 up to MS-70. Coins showing wear are graded below MS-60 and fall into grades from AU down to G, with G being a coin showing great wear and AU being a coin showing little wear.

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Native silver:
Silver found occurring in nature in fairly pure metallic state, notably Norway and Canada.

Acronym for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America, one of two major coin grading services in the United States.

Modern platinum bullion coin issued by the Isle of Man since 1983.

A water-worn piece of precious metal found in nature, usually implying some size OR a modern gold bullion coin minted by Australia, .9999 fine.

Relating to the hobby or occupation of collecting coins and related items.

Numismatic coins:
Coins whose prices depend more on their rarity, condition, dates, and mint marks than on their gold or silver content.

Coin collector.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, a future exchange where platinum and palladium are traded.

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The front side of a coin which contains the principal design.

A privilege or right to buy or sell specified securities or commodities at a definite price within an agreed-upon time.(But not an obligation)

A native mineral containing a precious or useful metal or metalliferous minerals in such quantities and in such chemical combination as to make its extraction profitable or a mixture of valuable ore minerals and gangue from which at least one of the metals can be extracted for profit.

Ore Reserves:
The prime measured assets of a mine as to tonnage and grade that can be extracted at a profit at current prices and at current technology, in the near future. Resources may be classified as proven, probable, possible or speculative.

A unit of weight. In the precious metals industry, an ounce means a troy ounce equal to 31.1035 grams. (See "Troy Ounce.").

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Options:
Flexible options which represent a specific agreement between the seller and the buyer, each acting as a principal. No details of volume are given and the true size and scope of the OTC market is not known.

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Acronym for Professional Coin Grading Service, one of two major coin grading services in the United States.

An American unit of weight for gold in which one pennyweight equals 24 grains or 1/20 of a troy ounce.

Physicals market:
A marketplace in which the physical product is traded, as opposed to a futures market where “contracts” are traded and physical delivery of the product may or may not take place.

A blank piece of metal used for stamping a coin or medallion.

Platinum Eagles:
Modern platinum bullion coins minted by the U.S. Treasury.

The dollar amount or percentage a coin sells over its intrinsic value.

Primary silver:
Unworked silver, usually bullion or grain, newly recovered from mining operations.

Production Cost:
The working costs to a mine of producing a metal and can include smelting, refining, and any by-product benefit, but generally excludes taxes, exploration, depreciation, depletion expenses and financing.

A coin produced using special dies and planchets that results in a sharpness of detail and a virtually flawless surface, usually mirror-like fields. Proof coins are produced for the collector market.

Put Option:
An option that gives the option buyer the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying futures contract at a particular price on or before a particular date.

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Price in a market; not necessarily the purchase or sale price, but an indication of market levels.

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An advancing price movement following a decline in a market.

The removal of oxygen or similar anion from a chemical compound or oxide ore in order to produce metal.

Reduction Plant:
Ore treatment works where ore is milled, a crude or refined form of gold or silver extracted and dispatched to the central refinery.

A metallic mineral deposit, especially gold-bearing, commonly in a sedimentary rock.

The process of removing the precious metals from the alloying metals to improve the purity of the precious metals.

Facility where precious metals are refined.

The portion of a resource that has been actually discovered, outlined and measured but not yet exploited and which at present is technically and economically feasible.

A concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid or gaseous materials in or on the earths crust in such form that economic extraction of a commodity is potentially feasible.

An officially issued reproduction of a former circulating coin.

The back of a coin

Treatment of ore by heat and air, or oxygen enriched air, or other reagent, to eliminate volatile substances and bring about chemical change such as oxidation of sulfides.

A share of the gross money receipts, or the profits due an owner of mineral rights under a contract, for the right to work them.

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The selection of a small but representative part of an ore body or process material for analysis.

A vertical accessway to a mine. Shafts are used in the movement of personnel and materials, including ore and non-mineralized rock.

Short sale:
The sale of an asset for future delivery without possession of the asset sold.

A lustrous, white, malleable and ductile precious metal, with remarkable electrical and thermal, light-reflecting, bacteria-killing, wear resistant, photosensitive and other qualities.

Silver Eagle:
Modern 1-oz silver bullion coin.

Standard Silver:
See "sterling silver."

Sterling Silver:
Silver of .925 fineness — 92.5 % silver; 7.5% copper. Also called "Standard Silver."

Silver Plating:
A technique which uses electrolysis to coat a base metal product with a thin layer of fine silver.

Silver Solder:
A group of alloys containing silver, zinc and copper with at least 10 percent silver used for brazing or joining other metals. Also called "Brazing Alloys."

Slabbed coin:
Coins encapsulated in plastic for protection against wear. Generally, "slabbed" coins are graded by one of the two major grading services.

The fine fraction of waste material discharged from the mill after valuable minerals have been recovered or the metallic compounds left in the bath during electrolytic refining of metals.

The process of extracting crude metal from its ore or concentrate by fusion, before being sent to the refinery for final processing.

English gold coin with a face value of one pound sterling and a gold content of .2354 ounce.

Spot Price:
The going price of silver or gold in the daily cash market for the physical delivery of bullion bars, usually 100-oz bars of gold or platinum and 1,000-oz bars of silver. See "cash price."

Spot market:
A market in which delivery and payment have to be made within two working days of the transaction date.

The difference between the buying price and the selling price of a precious metal coin or trading unit.

Broken ore accumulated in a heap at the mines surface, pending treatment or shipment to mill, or a stock of metals kept by a government for emergencies.

Step-like or other excavation in an underground mine for the removal or ore.

Symbolic face value:
Nominal value given to legal tender coins sold for their metal content. Example: the 1-oz Gold Eagle carries a $50 face value but sells for the value of its gold content plus a premium

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Material rejected from a mill after the recoverable valuable minerals have been extracted.

A unit of weight of India equal to 180 grains or 0.375 troy ounce (11.7 grams).

Tola bars:
Gold bars measured in tolas, the most popular of which is the 10-tola cast bar (3.75 troy oz). Although manufactured in Europe, tola bars are traded primarily in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Singapore.

Troy Ounce or Weight:
Ancient French system of weight, taking its name from the medieval trading town of Troyes, France. One troy ounce equals 31.1034 grammes, or 480 grains, or One troy ounce equals 1.09711 avoirdupois ounce.

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A seam or lode of metallic-bearing ore through a rock.

A coating of pure gold of at least 120 micro-inches, on a solid sterling silver artifact. It looks like gold, but is virtually all solid silver.

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Rock lacking suffiencient grade and/or other characterisitcs of ore to be economical.

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The actual ore grade realized at the mine mill.

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A blue-grey metal used for galvanizing (coating) iron and steel to protect against rust. The main zinc mineral is sphalerite. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The chemical symbol for zinc is Zn.

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01.Monsterbox Eagles or Maples (500)
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05.American Silver Eagle
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