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Gold and silver were precious before mankind had even learned to write about them.  Today, as we enter the era of rapidly advancing automated data processing, gold  and silver are more precious than ever.  They are critical elements in the high technology that makes American military forces first in the world.  Recycling precious metals from the obsolete equipment has become an important part in keeping the cost of advanced technology down.  


Precious metals are not just gold, silver, platinum,  but also platinum family metals  such as palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium, and ruthenium.  These metals are  similar chemically and share certain physical properties; the critical similarity for high technology applications being a resistance to corrosion.  Unlike most other metals, they are valued in cents per pound, but in dollars they per troy ounce for silver and hundreds of dollars per troy ounce for gold, platinum, and palladium.


On behalf of the department of Defense, DLA Disposition Services has saved the government $267 million over the last 33 years through this program.


Prior to DOD centralizing precious metals recovery in DLA Disposition Services, efforts were scattered and relatively small.  Only a few items, such as silver batteries and gold plated buttons were processed for recovery.  DLA Disposition Services precious metals recovery technicians researched and worked with private industry to develop the current program.  Many additional areas for precious metals recovery were found:  photographic and x-ray film, photographic chemicals, scrap electronic parts, and more.  In addition to gold  and silver, platinum family metals are also recovered from certain spark plugs and electronic scrap. 


Today, DOD activities turn in most precious metal bearing scrap to DLA Disposition Services offices worldwide, called Locations.  Precious metals are recovered from scrap property containing economically recoverable quantities of precious metals through contracts with private industry.  The property is processed  to a point where it can be effectively sampled, so that the refined precious metal equivalents can be calculated.  A settlement is then made, with the contractor depositing the refined equivalent weights to the Government's accounts maintained by Defense Supply Center Philadelphia.  Authorized Government users can then requisition precious metals for use at a cost reflecting the cost of recovery, which is much less than the market price of metals.  A typical use is a Government furnished material on a procurement contract.  This lowers the price of the finished product, saving the Government money.  Precious metals are recovered from the scrap property only when it makes good business sense.

Updated Oct 08

Please email precious metals related questions to: Precious Metals Recovery Program

Other DLA Disposition Services questions can be sent to Customer Service

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Page updated 05/20/2009 (rs)