Patio Process

The patio process is a process for extracting silver from ore. It is processed for separating silver from the ore by amalgamating it with mercury on an open floor. The process was invented by Bartolomé de Medina in Pachuca, Mexico, in 1554. The patio process was the first process to use mercury amalgamation to recover silver from ore. The patio process, dating back to the 16th century, was a crude chemical method for the recovery of silver by amalgamation in low heaps with the aid of salt and copper sulfate (magistral). It replaced smelting as the primary method of extracting silver from ore at Spanish colonies in the Americas. It is a method of isolating silver from its ore that was used from the 16th to early in the 20th century; the process was apparently commonly used by Indians in America before the arrival of the Europeans.

When the amalgamation was complete, the material was agitated with water in large tubs and the mud runs off. Other amalgamation processes were later developed, importantly the pan amalgamation process, and its variant, the Washoe process. The amalgam remaining at the bottom was collected and heated to drive off the mercury. This large-scale amalgamation process is the first known in the history of precious metal refining. The silver separation process generally differed from gold parting and gold extraction, although amalgamation with mercury is also sometimes used to extract gold. It’s been used as currency by more people than any other metal, including gold. The unique properties of silver make it ideal for industrial use, especially in photography and electronics.

During the patio process, silver ore was finely crushed and mixed with salt, water, copper sulfate, and mercury. It is a crude chemical method of reducing silver from its ores, followed by amalgamation in low heaps with the aid of salt and copper sulfate. This mixture was spread in a one to two-foot layer in an outdoor patio. After weeks of mixing and sun exposure, the native silver in the ore would bind with the mercury to form an amalgam. After that, pure silver could be extracted more easily than traditional methods. Silver has a rich history in coinage all across the globe, but only a small percentage of the world’s silver is still used for producing coins. This method of mining used powerful jets of water to clear away gravel and dirt that covered minerals. The method was damaging to the environment.