Most electronic devices contain gold inside, although, yes, in tiny amounts. This is because ‘gold’ is apparently one of the best materials for connecting silicon (used to create integrated circuits) with the inside of the chip of the gadget itself. Even so, gold is also used for other components due to its excellent thermal conductivity and electrical properties.
Although the amount of gold contained in mobile phones, consoles and other electronic devices is insignificant, it is possible to get hold of those small grams if the devices are disassembled. It is not an easy task but There are already companies that dedicate their activity to rescuing that ‘golden’ of discarded mobile phones, contributing to a circular economy that reuses gold and that, in the long term, could reduce the impact of mining on the environment.
Although the amount of gold contained in mobile phones, consoles and other electronic devices is insignificant, it is possible to get hold of those small grams if the devices are disassembled. It is not an easy task but there are already companies that dedicate their activity to rescuing the ‘gold’ of discarded mobile phones, contributing to a circular economy that reuses gold and that, in the long term, could reduce the impact of mining on the environment.
In fact, international estimates that around 300 tons of gold annually are used for electronic purposes and that 7% of the world’s gold is found in these types of devices.
Even so, and despite its great qualities for electronics, gold is not an essential element and is mostly used in high-quality devices, such as high-end mobile phones. Another of its specifications is that It is very difficult for it to rust, which makes it the ideal element for connections and printed circuits of electronic devices.
0.5 grams of silver
According to some estimates, devices containing gold rarely exceed 0.034 grams, while other elements are used in greater quantities. In addition to the precious metal, it is common for the sector to also use silver, bronze and cobalt. The first is usually used to solder certain interior components, the second is gaining more followers in the sector every day thanks to its hardness and resistance, and cobalt, as everyone knows, for the manufacture of batteries (including those in cars electrical). Which it’s, For these small portions, the extraction process is more expensive than the amount of mineral itself.
The amount of gold in a mobile phone varies depending on the model and brand. However, in general, the amount of gold in a mobile phone is very small, about 0.034 grams of gold, compared to 0.5 grams of silver and around 15 grams of copper, so many times the extraction process is already more expensive than the value of what was obtained.
But to ‘make gold’ just a mobile phone is not enough, because To achieve just 1g, around 30 devices would be necessary, although according to the UN the figure rises to more than 40. Also taking into account the price at which it fluctuates today, which is between 50 and 60 euros for each gram, no one will get rich with the ‘gold’ of their mobile phone.
Despite everything, gold is one of the most valued elements in the sector, and can even be reused from one device to another. In general, the ‘gold’ can be presented in two different ways in a mobile phone: either in small portions like nuggets or even in fine threads (threads responsible for carrying out the connectivity of the internal chip and the systems.
Mobile phones and other electronic devices use gold in their components due to its excellent electrical and thermal conductivity properties. Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity and does not oxidize, making it ideal for electrical contacts and connectors. It is also used in the manufacture of printed circuits.due to its ability to weld easily and resist corrosion.
On the other hand, the process to extract those grams of metal from the device is not at all simple, although the first phase can be carried out manually, it is necessary to have specific machinery accessible since, once the components are separated, the circuits have to go through a crusher that separates them. The result is baked to isolate the gold.
At the same time, there is also another technique that is much more sustainable than other recycling procedures, consisting of spilling ‘aqua regia’ (a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid). on the circuit boards in order to dissolve those embedded metal particles and then apply an oily liquid that definitively separates the gold.
The result of all these processes, whether the gold obtained, silver or any other material, is refined and regenerated to return to pure metal and is usually used for jewelry (recycled) or cyclically for new electronic devices.