An electronics recycling company recently stated that there is now more gold in a pound of electronics than a pound of gold. Whilst this statement might seem very unlikely,the high prices of gold and other precious metals mean phone recycling businesses see these discarded phones as a great way of making money.
At least 45 million iPhone 5s have made it to the market, and producing the metal for these took a staggering amount of ore bearing rock. Millions of tons of dirt are mined to metalurgically extract all the metals required. As the demand for the latest electronic must-haves is always increasing there is a greater need to be looking at recycling to help reduce the amount of fresh materials required to produce these items.
Urban mining is the term given to scavenging through the scrap metal in old electronic products. It is a growing industry around the world as metal prices keep rising, with iridium and gold being much sought-after. The materials recovered are then reused in new electronics parts and the gold and other precious metals are melted down. These are then sold as ingots to jewellers and investors, as well as back to manufacturers who use gold in the circuit boards of mobile phones.
Our infographic highlights the necessity to make sensible use of our electronic products, as iPhones also contain a small percentage of rare earth minerals which are vital to certain phone functions. 90% of these non-renewable minerals are mined in China, with less than one per cent being reclaimed from discarded mobile phones. Hopefully we can encourage people to consider the recycle option rather than disposing of out-of-date items carelessly and persuade governments and private businesses to search for more environmentally friendly methods of mining for and recycling the rare earth minerals.
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