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Can You Mine Old Electronic Devices for Gold?

Crypto Mining Farm

Did you know that you can turn old electronics into gold? Yes, that is true!

E-mining has been a trending topic for quite a while since it concerns both the environment and personal finance.

If you’re interested in E-mining, or simply want to know more about it, you’ll find everything you need in this article. What is E-Mining? E-mining is the process of converting your old electronics into cash. Electronics include computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. digital cameras, Blu-ray players, and televisions.

Undoubtedly the question running around inside your head is how much gold is in a computer? and do I need a science degree to extract it?

Market Value of Gold

According to most informed sources, A desktop PC contains about 0.2 grams of gold, worth

around $12. Every laptop has 0.006 grams of gold; you’d need seven thousand

such devices to harvest a kilogram of pure gold.

Also, did you realize just how much gold is in a cell phone?   Well, according to industry experts, you can expect to find approximately 0.034 grams in a cell phone, which is worth $1.83 at current prices.

So where on a computer can you harvest your gold?

CPUs: Each CPU has hundreds of gold-plate pins that line the board’s edges. This is one of the main ways an E-prospector can find gold in computers.

RAM includes many gold-plated metal pins, and a thin layer of gold-plated material lays on the top of the RAM.

Motherboards: On the motherboard of most computers are the gold-plated pins that hold the power supply and other hardware. Just as the CPUs have gold-plated edges, the motherboard’s components also have gold.

So, what method is most effective to mine gold from a computer?

The Home Science Bit

Put the circuit boards in a clear plastic or glass container. Add three parts

hydrochloric acid to one-part nitric acid to create a compound known to

scientists as aqua regia – literally ‘royal water’.  Let this sit for ten days, stirring the mixture every day with a glass or a metal rod. 

A solvent made from Toluene is added, which starts a solvent extraction process. You will find Toluene in paint thinners. The gold is taken out of the other materials in the acid wash by using the toluene solvent. Reusing the solvent and acid is possible, saving time and waste disposal.

Proceed With Caution

This process can present some risk as the aqua regia can produce toxic fumes, but if you are mining for gold, risk brings its rewards. To mitigate these risks, it’s essential to use proper safety equipment, such as chemical fume hoods, to ensure that any hazardous fumes are safely contained and vented out of the working area.

Pour the gold mixture into a coffee filter set over a clear plastic jug. There will be many small gold flakes that will remain from the process. 

Pour a fine-mesh filter over each flake to dissolve any gold dust collected. Flush the dust with clean water. Wash the flakes with methanol and water to remove any residual residue.

The Melting Process

Wear protective goggles and gloves and heat a bowl of boiling water containing borax with a blow torch. You will be able to melt gold at a lower temperature than 1,064C. Borax is an affordable and readily available chemical for your home laboratory.

After the borax has softened, add the gold flakes. When it begins to bubble, remove the flakes, and let them cool. 

Heat the gold flakes in a small bowl and stir constantly. Heat repeatedly, continually mixing so the gold flakes form a smooth ball. So, while it cools, you can peel the gold from the re-solidifying borax.

The Reality

With the few old PCs, laptops, and cell phones that you have tucked away in your home office, your basement, or your garage, it’s unlikely that resulting precious metals will be enough to cover the costs of breaking them down into their basic components. . Whilst it would be good to get some cash from the gold in your old cell phone, the processing costs are often higher than the precious metal will end up being worth. You can, of course, scale up by buying used devices on eBay or at yard sales.

The Commercial Possibilities

Moving from your kitchen laboratory into the wide world of commerce, e-mining is a hot topic in the jewelry business.

Jewelry manufacturers are increasingly adopting the e-mining method, using metals recycled from mobile phones, laptops, and game consoles, as an alternative to mining gold or other precious metals.

According to one of the largest jewelry manufacturers in the world, by 2020, all of its jewelry will be made from recycled gold and silver. 

Royal Mint, the British government-owned mint, has been looking into that issue for years. In late 2021, it announced a partnership with Excir to recover metals from electronic waste. Royal Mint has been working hard to recycle old technology and has formed a partnership with the start-up company Excir to help people find valuable metals from waste.

Some pieces of metal that mint workers will recover will be used in its jewelry collection, which the business, which makes historical coins and commemoratives, launched in May.