amalgamation process (əmălˌgəmāˈshən) [key], in particular, a method to extract gold and silver from ores. The ore is crushed and treated with mercury, in which the metal dissolves. The amalgam is heated and the mercury evaporates, leaving pure gold or silver. The process has been criticized as an environmental and occupational threat due to the extreme toxicity of mercury.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.