Gold extraction is most economical in large, easily mined deposits. Ore grades as little as 0.5 mg/kg (0.5 parts per million, ppm) can be economical. Typical ore grades in open-pit mines are 1–5 mg/kg (1–5 ppm); ore grades in underground or hard rock mines are usually at least 3 mg/kg (3 ppm). Because ore grades of 30 mg/kg (30 ppm) are usually needed before gold is visible to the naked eye, in most gold mines the gold is invisible.
The average gold mining and extraction costs were about US$317/oz in 2007, but these can vary widely depending on mining type and ore quality; global mine production amounted to 2,471.1 tonnes.
After initial production, gold is often subsequently refined industrially by the Wohlwill process which is based on electrolysis or by the Miller process, that is chlorination in the melt. The Wohlwill process results in higher purity, but is more complex and is only applied in small-scale installations. Other methods of assaying and purifying smaller amounts of gold include parting and inquartation as well as cupellation, or refining methods based on the dissolution of gold in aqua regia.