Gold Recycling - Fair Gold from Old Parts

Gold Recycling - Fair Gold from old parts © Own image

Gold was and is so particularly valuable because it is a very rare element. The proportion of gold in the earth's crust is just 0.0000005 percent. Therefore, large amounts of rock must be moved to extract even a few ounces of gold. On a global average, one ton of ore then contains about 5 grams of gold. The laborious mining is only worthwhile because the worldwide uncertainty increases the demand and drives the gold price ever higher and thus the high mining costs are still covered.

As more and more gold deposits are exploited and thus the gold content in the rock is becoming smaller and smaller, gold mining is also becoming more and more costly and thus less profitable. No wonder, then, that gold mining has long since ceased to focus solely on classic mining and is increasingly turning to other methods of gold extraction.

Gold recovery or turning old into new

Approximately 3,268 tons of gold are mined worldwide every year. However, because much more is needed for the production of jewelry, coins and bars in the industry, a large part of the processed gold comes from scrap gold.

Gold dealers such as Gold & Co primarily purchase old gold jewelry, gold bars and coins, and other scrap gold for delivery to refineries that separate the precious metal from other components through physical and chemical processes and then melt it down.

In this process, the scrap gold is first melted. It is then granulated and dissolved in highly concentrated acids. Once all the metal has gone "into solution," it can be precipitated and filtered in chemical processes. The fine gold obtained in this way is processed again into bars or gold granules, which then serve as an investment product or as a raw material for industry and crafts.

Recycling gold from electrical appliances

But apart from the gold deposits waiting to be discovered in the form of old heirloom jewelry and scrap gold in household drawers, the largest gold deposits now lie not in the depths of the earth, but in the scrap yard.

Electrical and electronic waste contains many valuable components. Although the quantities of precious metals per old device are small in themselves, in the mass, however, old cell phones, computers and industrial equipment contain significantly more gold than many ore deposits. And the amount of electronic waste that accumulates year after year is enormous. In Austria alone, waste electrical and electronic equipment is estimated at around 77,400 tons per year. Worldwide, the figure may be as high as 52.2 million tons in 2021.

Cell phones and smartphones contain numerous metals such as tin, lithium, copper and lead, but also small amounts of precious metals such as platinum, gold and silver. Even 40 old smartphones can yield about as much gold as one ton of ore - about 5 grams. The yield from a ton of old computer circuit boards can even exceed 200 grams. The older the technology, the higher the gold content of the components.

The metals gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium contained in this amount of electrical waste are estimated to be worth about 46.5 billion euros worldwide.

Nevertheless, electronic waste recycling is still in its infancy. While 90-100 percent of gold from jewelry and industrial plants is recycled, experts estimate that the rate for electronic waste is only around 15 percent.

Urban Mining: Gold from Sewage Sludge & Crematoria

But it's not just our old equipment that contains gold and silver. The concept of urban mining understands the city with all its buildings, vehicles, things and people as a source of raw materials and a modern mine.

A study on gold in wastewater shows where gold can be found. Scientists found numerous precious metals in the sludge of sewage treatment plants, including an average of 16.7 grams of silver and 0.3 grams of gold per ton of sludge.

And the fact that urban mining does not ignore people as a source of raw materials is shown by the discussion among crematoria about what should happen to the dental gold of deceased persons during cremation.

Recycled Gold = Fair Gold

Recycled gold is a form of fair gold, if not the fairest gold. Although it is no longer possible to trace the circumstances under which the gold was mined in the past, except in exceptional cases, the most important thing is that this recycled gold today no longer has any negative impact on the environment & society.

There is now also "fair trade gold" and gold with "fair mining" labels, which stands for a socially and environmentally responsible mining. However, as praiseworthy as this approach is, the mining of gold always remains an overexploitation of nature. Recycled gold, on the other hand, is already in the gold cycle and hardly burdens the system anymore.

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