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Monday, April 23, 2012

Recovering gold from old electronics scrap

Electronics work bench
Photo by James Bastow
Somebody made the observation that for every eight 250 ton haul trucks coming up out of a gold mine seven of then are hauling tailings and the eighth one is hauling gold ore that averages about two grams per tonne.  How would you like to find some gold ore that can run several times this much gold per tonne?  In many cases this is true, and the gold ore exists right on the surface, and in some cases can average more then 800 times more gold then conventional gold ore.

Where is this treasure trove of gold and other precious metals, well you can find it in your own backyard because it is electronic trash like old cell phones, computers both desktop and laptop and all sorts of other electronic goodies.  Practically all other electronics trash also contains a whole plethora of other metals ripe for the picking including gold, silver, palladium, REEs, copper, aluminum and steel.

What does it take to get into this lucrative business?

It can be done with off-the-shelf components used in the electroplating industry; in fact all you’ll need is available from a plating supply store.  A basic knowledge of the electroplating process business also comes in handy.  What this process is in reality a form of electroplating called electropolishing or deplating.  The process is like electroplating except you reverse the electrical charge causing the metal to be plated onto the cathode, and the metal itself that is being recovered acts as the anode.

Basically the process is just a plating process in reverse, so any equipment you’ll need can be bought off-the-shelf from a plating supply house.  You’ll need a source of low voltage DC electricity and some chemical resistant tanks.  It is important that you equip yourself with some heavy duty rubber gloves and a rubber coated apron because you will be working with some strong acids in the process.

The other thing needed is a separate building for this process because it sure isn’t anything you’d like to do in your living room!


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