Urban Mining: There’s Gold in Dem Dar Cell Phones! [Infographic]

Unprocessed e-waste, as we’ve noted many, many times, is pretty nasty stuff: a mishmash of chemicals and metals that can leach into the ground, and pollute soil and water if not handled properly. Proper recyclingΒ keeps all those compounds where they need to be: either professionally remediated, or fed back into the industrial production stream after processing.

Sounds kind of ho-hum if you’re not into industrial processes… until you find out that there’s gold in those phones: literally. Yep, gold is one of the metals commonly used in electronics, and it can be recovered. Such “urban mining” has itself been a fairly toxic process in the past, but the National Metallurgical Lab in Jamshedpur, India, has devised a new method for extracting that precious metal without, say, burning, or cyanide, or more time-intensive processes like bioleaching.

Now, don’t go trying to the gold out of those old phones you’ve got laying around – this is a job for professionals. And while there’s not a lot in your individual phone, Β cell phone recyclers will likely be able to turn this new process into a substantial revenue stream. Check out the details in the infographic below – provided to us by e-waste handlers eCycle Best. If you’ve got thoughts, share ’em…

Need to see a larger version of the graphic? Click on it…

urban mining infographic

  1. Sustainablog | Jeff McIntire-Strasburg has been blogging a greener world via sustainablog since 2003!

    […] Electronic waste collection isn’t for sissies. The waste itself usually contains toxic compounds and requires special handling. That special handling cost money, so if you’re going to collect these materials, you’d better have a good idea of who’ll buy them from you (hopefully, at a profit). And, finally, you need to insure that said buyer won’t be dumping said material in a developing country: despite lots of attention on this issue, that still happens with about 25% of e-waste that comes from the developing world. […]

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