Saturday, May 4, 2013

Striking Gold in old Cell Phones

In terms of e-waste, cell phones hold some of the most valuable bang for the buck. Chock full of bits of gold, silver and copper, cell phones offer it all.

Gold, in particular, is easily extractable, so much so that it's possible to extract more gold per ton of cell phones than good ore. Per ton, gold ore yields approximately 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of gold. Per ton of recovered cell phone circuitry, it is possible to yield up to 150 grams (5.3 ounces) of gold per ton.

One refinery in Japan is picking apart between 10,000 and 20,000 cell units every month. Another company in Tokyo is melting at least 7,000 ounces of gold per month just from cell phone mining and extraction.

In China, four tons of gold, 28 tons of silver and 6000 tons of copper contained in refused computers and mobile phones are thrown away each year.

In the US, consumers will replace approximately 400 million electronic gadgets this year. Less than 15% will be recycled.