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Precious Metals

General Information:

The Materials Handling group provides Precious Metals receiving and documentation (PM's) for research programs funded by the Department of Energy (DOE). Precious metals are obtained from the DOE's Business Center for Precious Metals Sales and Recovery (BCPMSR). The return of  scrap and excess precious metals to the BCPMSR is also provided by this group. Metals under this control are:



Precious metals are available from the DOE's Business Center for precious metals sales and recovery (BCPMSR) at no cost. All costs associated with procuring these materials include fabrication and shipping. To purchase precious metals, submit a purchase requisition to the Purchasing Office, 211 TASF.

An annual precious metals 3-year forecast of requirements and returns must be submitted by the laboratory (custodian to Sallie) in order for DOE to plan and assure metals may be available to the laboratory at no cost. Availability is is determined by forecasted requirements and the DOE's current priority. DOE currently contracts with BASF to acquire precious metals. 

Radioactively contaminated metals are not being accepted for return to the DOE BCPMSR and are stored at Ames Laboratory.

Some metals are not returnable to the DOE BCPMSR because of the cost. It costs more to clean and refine the metal than the metal is worth. View the table below.

Returnable Metals:

Metal: Scrap Rad. Contaminated:
Gold Yes No
Silver Yes No
Platinum Yes No
Rhodium Yes No
Palladium Yes No
Iridium No No
Osmium No No
Ruthenium No No


Metals which have been fabricated into a different form other than the original bullion from which it was received or purchased from a vendor in a specific form as to be used in the laboratory.


Metals in a form from DOE (or vendor) and are defined in their lot number as: lump, ingot, shot, sponge, granules, powder, gauze, slug, button, plate, flake, grain, pieces, pellets or other types of unfabricated shapes.

Small Quantities:

Small quantities may be available from MPC - call Matt Besser, 4-5236.

A precious metals inventory is available by calling Stephanie Goodman, 4-3081.

Inventory Data:

Custodians Inventory/Use Log:

Each custodian should keep a log of precious metals in inventory, as a  "Best Practice". Precious metals are inventoried when more than 1 gm AND more than $100, determined by on hand inventory costs.

The Ames Laboratory perpetual inventory is maintained in Costpoint by Sallie Spencer, Supervisor, Materials & Transportation - 153 Spedding Hall, 4-5548.

Retaining Metals:

Unused and unneeded precious metals (labware and bullion) are to be returned to the DOE BCPMR. Any bullion not returned, will need to be justified annually in writing and approved by the Program Director/Department Manager and the Contracting Officer. The justification/approval form and data will be provided by the Manager of Materials and Transportation annually after the physical inventory. Precious metals in fabricated labware or radioactively contaminated will not need to be justified.


Precious metals shall be secured under lock and key during storage. Each custodian is accountable for his or her inventory.

Physical Inventory:

A physical inventory is conducted annually and a random inventory is also conducted annually.  Differences in physical counts and inventory will be deemed as lost and reported via methods provided in CRD DOE Order 580.1.


All precious metals purchased on a Purchase Order are received at the Ames Laboratory warehouse and then delivered to Sallie Spencer at 153 Spedding. Sallie performs the required control documentation, lot number assignment and secures signatures on the precious metals transaction request. The metals are then delivered to the requestor.

Consuming Precious Metals:

As metals are consumed, the metal should be written off of the Laboratory inventory using a form called Precious Metal Transaction Request, (form no. 48303016). At the same time, the custodian's log should be maintained so that the log and the Laboratory's perpetual inventory are match. Consumption may be from using or alloying any metals which are on inventory or any reason the bullion no longer remains pure.

Returning Precious Metals:

After the materials are received from the custodians and into "scrap" stock, materials handling will ship the metals back to the BCPMSR for recovery or re-issue.

External Web Resources:

DOE Business Center for Precious Metals Sales and Recovery


Current market prices, quantities, forms - Kitco