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Smelting is the process of heating ore, and a chemical reducing agent, to produce a base metal. In this part of processing, actual metal is produced. The energy required for smelting is expensive.

Base metal smelters process large amounts of mineral concentrates, use very large amounts of energy, and are prohibitively expensive to build and operate in northern Canada. Thus, none exist, nor will any likely be built in the North in the near future.

Gold, on the other hand, is produced in much smaller quantities and can be smelted and poured into gold bars or ingots at the mine itself.