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The Big Question Some Gold Rush Fans Have After Season 13's Opening Sequence

Like many similar series, Discovery's gold mining reality show "Gold Rush" translates some of the rigors of the real-life gold mining profession into TV-friendly drama. While certain seasons and especially some of its spinoffs complicate its base premise, a typical episode of "Gold Rush" drops in on members of the show's fluctuating central mining crews working at their various claims in the Klondike region of northwestern Canada as they search for gold.

Of course, as is typical for a profession-based reality series, its cast of characters is just as much of a draw for viewers as its insight into gold mining. Parker Schnabel is one of its most well-known and longest-running cast members, though recently "Gold Rush" has featured Schnabel less and less, as he becomes increasingly busy managing the growth of his company.

In Schnabel's quasi-absence, a number of fans want more behind-the-scenes content in "Gold Rush" Season 13 based on some discussion online. Season 13 premiered on September 16, 2022, and whether or not its quantity of behind-the-scenes insight is to fans' liking should become clearer as the season continues. In the meantime, a new sequence that opens Season 13 has left some viewers with a burning question about one aspect of the show's very nature.

Gold Rush fans are wondering how the smelting process affects weight

In the opening sequence that kicks off the "Gold Rush" Season 13 premiere, Parker Schnabel smelts an unspecified quantity of gold and subsequently removes a mass of impurities that's separated from the gold during this process, called slag. After watching this footage, one fan on the "Gold Rush" subreddit asked their fellow viewers just how much weight the pre-smelted gold loses during the smelting process, arguing that the estimated value of a given haul shared with viewers should discount the effectively valueless slag.

Based on their own personal experience, user weeder57 estimated that smelted gold amounts to 85% of what it weighs prior to refinement. User pinewind108 similarly recalled a time that Parker described raw Yukon gold as more than 80% pure.

A page about gold smelting on an informational site for mineral processing engineering called 911 Metallurgist, meanwhile, claims that 1000oz — equivalent to roughly 28.5kg — of gold typically generates 10kg of slag. The loss in this case is closer to 35%, meaning most operations' final product is 65% of the weight of their initial haul, though the cast members of "Gold Rush" may well be mining purer gold in their remote, Klondike location.

In any case, all of this data suggests that weights shared throughout "Gold Rush" aren't indicative of a gold hauls' value if slag is still present, but are rather somewhere around 15% higher than the pure gold's final weight after removing impurities.