Those of you who have simply been throwing away old cell phones and electronics may have to think again: urban miners are taking full advantage of record metal prices by scavenging through the scrap metal in old electronic products in search of such gems as iridium and gold. The materials recovered are reused in new electronics parts and the gold and other precious metals are melted down and sold as ingots to jewelers and investors as well as back to manufacturers who use gold in the circuit boards of mobile phones. "It can be precious or minor metals, we want to recycle whatever we can," said Tadahiko Sekigawa, president of Eco-System Recycling in Japan.
According to one study, a ton of ore from a gold mine produces just 5 grams (0.18 ounce) of gold on average, whereas a tonne of discarded mobile phones can yield 150 grams (5.3 ounce) or more."To some its just a mountain of garbage, but for others its a gold mine," said Nozomu Yamanaka, manager of the Eco-Systems recycling plant.
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