Urban Mining for Gold

June 26th, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

“Urban Mining” through the scrap metal in old electronic products in the search of gems and gold, its growth industry is around the world a ” metal prices skyrocket.

These materials are reused in new electronic parts, the gold or the other precious metals melt down and they’re sold as ingots to the jewelers including the manufacturers they make use of the gold in the circuit boards of mobile phones to make gold conduct electricity much better than copper.

“It can be precious or minor metals, we want to recycle whatever we can,” said Tadahiko Sekigawa, president of Eco-System Recycling Co which is owned by Dowa Holdings Co Ltd.

A tonne of ore from a gold mine produces just 5 grams (0.18 ounce) of gold on average, whereas a tonne of discarded mobile phones can yield 150 grams (5.3 ounce) or more, according to a study by Yokohama Metal Co Ltd, another recycling firm.

The same volume of discarded mobile phones also contains around 100 kg (220 lb) of copper and 3 kg (6.6 lb) of silver, among other metals.

Copper and tin are also around record highs and silver prices are well above long term averages.

These minor metals such as indium, a vital component in the production of flat panel televisions and computer screens, antimony and bismuth are indispensable for producing many high-tech products.

They are not easy to acquire because China is stressed on export controls which makes it tough for the Japanese manufacturers to buy the metals.

“Our wish is to be able to help Japanese manufacturers that need these metals,” Eco-System President Sekigawa said.

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