Sunday, April 27, 2008

Urban Miners Look For Precious Metals In Cell Phones

It's called "urban mining", scavenging through the scrap metal in old electronic products in search of such gems as iridium and gold, and it is a growth industry around the world as metal prices skyrocket.

The materials recovered are reused in new electronics parts and the gold and other precious metals are melted down and sold as ingots to jewellers and investors as well as back to manufacturers who use gold in the circuit boards of mobile phones because gold conducts electricity even better than copper.


John M. said...

I wonder if anyone is doing this in the States?

80% of the world's e-waste is shipped to a handful of places in Asia and Africa, most notably, China and Nigeria. A lot of this waste includes cell phones.

Apparently the environmental impact of e-waste is a serious down-side. (Google e-waste, Nigeria, China, etc.)

The Japanese might find a safer method, though they very well might send it to the places in China where they're already up to their ears in toxic e-sludge. (I hear that in these areas you can smell burnt plastic, constantly, from all around.)

Mac said...

I wonder if anyone is doing this in the States?

This will be positively mainstream within 10 years. Maybe sooner.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mac,
I enjoy your blog and check it out regularly.
Just a little correction. Copper is more electrically conductive than gold. Silver is better than copper at conducting electricity. The reason Gold is used is because of its malleability. You need very fine connections within integrated circuits and low oxidation of the surface. The lower the resistivity the easier current can flow through the wire.
Just a little link to Resistivity from wikipedia. I see the error is in the original article source. The danger for the copy and paster.