Urban Mining: The Electronic Waste Gold Mine

Urban Mining

The Electronic Waste Gold Mine

Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver and sitting in landfills around the world. The precious metals are hidden away in the components that make up our outdated laptops, cellphones and other discarded electronics. As the demand for new technology grows, so does the amount of obsolete hardware. With proper recycling techniques, these metals can be recovered and resold for big profits in a process known as "urban mining."

Just How Much Profit?

According to the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, the amount of gold and silver being used in today's electronics worldwide is staggering.



$16 B



$5 B

= $21 billion dollars worth of gold and silver are used to make electronics every year

The Increasing Value of Urban Mining

Precious metals recovered from electronic waste can be up to 50x richer than ores mined from the ground.

Electronic waste can yield between...


grams of gold / metric ton

Up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are estimated to be scrapped every year worldwide.

Electronic Waste Breakdown, 2010

* in million units

Mobile devices 152

Keyboards & mice 82.2

Computers 51.9

Monitors 35.8

Hard copy devices 33.6

Televisions 28.5


Largest Electronic Waste Processing Center

Guiyou, China

1.5 million tons of e-waste are processed each year, generating...

$75 million in revenue

Urban Mining: The Electronic Waste Gold Mine

shared by tastyplacement on Feb 28, 2013 in Technology


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Ever wondered what happened to all of those old cellphones, computers and gadgets after they've been replaced by new technology? They're being recycled for BIG MONEY in a process called "Urban Mining."
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