Electronic Waste – A Likely Gold Mine?

Note: Article adapted from here.

The rise of electronic waste holds dire consequences for the health of the people and the environment. However, if the waste is recycled safely, you have struck gold, literally. China holds a prominent spot as the largest producer of mobile phones globally; consequently, generating over 15.4 million tonnes of electronic waste in 2020. This figure is set to skyrocket to 27.2million tonnes by 2030, at an estimated annual growth rate of 10.4%. Research has shown that one tonne of disposed mobile phones contains over 270 grams of gold, much more than that found in a traditional high-grade gold mine.

Environmental group, Greenpeace, proposed the value of metals found in discarded mobile devices in China to be approximately 160 billion yuan by 2030. This figure is double that of the current projected value at 81 billion yuan in 2020. This steady increase can be attributed to its linear correlation with rising consumption levels and heightened dependence on technology. To tackle this, the country is making considerable efforts to promote recycling, reduce the toll on the environment, promote a circular economy and reduce its dependence on foreign imports of metals like gold, silver, copper and iron.

The current practice of extracting gold from e-waste is through the use of toxic chemicals such as cyanide and harsh acids. This practice is harmful not only to the environment but also to mankind.  Companies doing the recycling of e-waste must extract gold safely, sustainably and ethically.

Clean Urban Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group, has a non-toxic gold recovery reagent that extracts gold cleanly and sustainably without the use of cyanide and harsh acids. This process features a novel and safe way to rapidly leach the gold in high yield and then use an award-winning, patented sulphur polymer to recover the gold.