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Old cell phones worth more ton for ton than a gold mine

A process called “urban mining” may have many rethinking simply throwing their old electronics into the trash can or tossing them into the junk drawer to collect dust. The so-called urban mining describes a process where old electronics like computers and cell phones are scavenged and ripped apart for their base metals like iridium and gold.

With metal prices hitting all time highs around the world, the urban mining business is booming. The metals recovered from the process are reused in new electronic devices and the gold and other precious metals are melted into ingots that can be used to create jewelry or used to create new electronic devices.

Gold is common in many electronic devices and components for its ability to better transfer electricity than copper. Tadahiko Sekigawa, president of Eco-System Recycling Co. told Reuters, “It can be precious or minor metals, we want to recycle whatever we can.”

It might not seem like there would be enough gold or other precious metals inside obsolete electronics to warrant the effort of recycling. On the contrary, used electronic devices are often a much better source of gold than actually having a small gold mine.

According to Reuters a ton of ore form a gold mine produces only 5 grams of gold on average. A ton of used cell phones can yield 150 grams of gold or more. In addition to the gold the same volume of discarded phones can have 220 pounds of copper and 6.6 pounds of silver as well as other metals.

The price of gold alone hit an all time high in March 2008 of $1,030.80 per ounce. One Eco-Systems recycling plant in Honjo, Japan produces around 440 to 660 pounds of gold bars per month with 99.99% purity. This amount of gold has a worth of about $5.9 to $8.8 million on today’s market. That's literally the same output as a small gold mine.

When the amount of money that can be made from recycling old electronic components for their base metals is taken into consideration it is easy to understand why Clover Technologies Group, the winner of the contract with the USPS for its mail-in recycling project, was willing to foot the bill for shipping. The amount of money also makes the fact that America ships tons of used electronics overseas each year look like American’s are doing someone a favor.

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By i3arracuda on 4/30/2008 3:21:45 PM , Rating: 6
...there be a landfill in New Mexico where the sky is the deepest of blues, the grass is lush and green, and the rivers overflow with milk and honey. The wind whispers tales of of good promise and great fortune, for any and all who choose to claim it. Here, there are thousands --nay, millions! Millions of copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for Atari 2600, littering the horizon like a jagged claw from some ancient, terrible beast, stretched out before you as far as the eye can see. Waiting. Begging to be plucked from the Earth, like ripened fruit, if only some adventuring soul be able and willing to claim the fortunes buried there.

There be gold in them hills!


RE: Somewhere...
By jtemplin on 4/30/2008 4:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Hahaha I enjoyed this...greatly =D

RE: Somewhere...
By phil126 on 4/30/2008 8:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
The is also a landfill full of thousands of Apple Lisas. I would be curious with would have more gold a ton of Atari games or a ton of Apple Lisas.

RE: Somewhere...
By djc208 on 5/1/2008 9:34:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yeeee Hawww! I'm gon'a hitch up my H1 to my 45-foot RV, have the old lady saddle up the Escalade with a backhoe and we's goin' to dig up them thair fields and streams looking fer gold!

Might even make enough money to pay for the gas to get there!

Now I just need the GPS co-ordinates of that field you were talkin bout.

RE: Somewhere...
By TheNuts on 5/1/2008 1:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
Every 5 seconds I would fall into a pit, extend my neck and have a heckuva time trying to get out without falling back in. All the while looking for those stupid pieces to call the mothership (which was impossible to find) to come pick me up

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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