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Extra resources for Accountants' Handbook, Special Industries and Special Topics (Accountants' Handbook Vol. 2) (Volume 2)

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Unproved properties • • • • • • • are those on which no economically recoverable oil or gas has been demonstrated to exist. Unproved properties are to be assessed for impairment at least annually. If an unproved property becomes impaired because of such events as pending lease expiration or an unsuccessful exploratory well (dry hole), the loss is recognized and a valuation allowance is established to reflect the property’s impairment. Two approaches to impairment are used: (1) Property by property (typically used by small companies or situations involving significant acreage costs), or (2) a formula approach based on factors such as historical success ratios and average lease terms (typically used by larger companies with a significant number of smaller properties).

In contrast, the costs related to exploring for deposits of oil and gas are expended generally over a relatively short time. Major exceptions would be offshore and foreign petroleum exploration and development. Like petroleum exploration and production, the mining industry is capital intensive. Substantial investments in property, plant, and equipment are required; usually they represent more than 50 percent of a mining company’s total assets. The significant capital investments of mining companies and the related risks inherent in any long-term major project may affect the recoverability of capitalized costs.

Smelting is the process of separating the metal from impurities with which it may be chemically bound or physically mixed too closely to be removed by concentration. Most smelting is accomplished through fusion, which is the liquefaction of a metal under heat. In some cases, chemical processes are used instead of, or in combination with, heating techniques. Refining is the last step in isolating the metal. The primary methods utilized are fire refining and electrolytic refining. Fire refining is similar to smelting.

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