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NewsHome > News >

E-waste is a "rich mine", but why is the "exploitation rate" so low?

Time:2019-07-15 15:56 Author:Suny Group

Electronic products such as mobile computers have become a necessity for most people, but many people may not know enough about them. Today's electronics contain 21 metals. The reason why these phones are becoming more and more lightweight and more powerful is that these metals play a key role.

Many of these 21 metals are precious metals and are much higher in content than ore. In the case of gold, for every ton of used mobile phones (excluding batteries) contains more than 270 grams of gold, and the gold content per ton of gold concentrate is not less than 100 grams.

There is also a metal that is more expensive than gold, which is the palladium that has recently skyrocketed in price. The price of palladium has exceeded gold at the end of last year. This year, as of March 22, it has risen by 22.7%, breaking through $1,600 per ounce. The current price of gold is less than $1,320 per ounce.

E-waste recycling is an industry with great economic value. According to a report just released by Greenpeace, the potential economic value of discarded mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers will reach 81 billion yuan by 2020 and is expected to increase to 160 billion yuan by 2030.

There are also some metals that are not as expensive as gold and palladium, but they are of strong strategic importance to the country. Researchers at Tsinghua University in 2013 adopted the two dimensions of supply risk and economic importance, and concluded that the seven most important raw materials for China are chromite, cobalt, manganese, nickel, iron ore, strontium and barium. Among them, cobalt and rhodium are important metal elements for the manufacture of electronic products.

Cobalt is an important raw material for rechargeable batteries for electronic products, while China's cobalt dependence on imports is 97.23%.钽Used to produce capacitors, which greatly reduce the size of capacitors, is a key element of our phone's ability to be so light. The main producing countries of the country are Rwanda, Brazil, Congo (Kinshasa), Mozambique, etc., of which Rwanda has the largest output. The cockroach is one of the four major conflict minerals. The exploitation of cockroaches in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo has exacerbated regional conflicts. At the same time, it has also caused damage to the virgin forests of the Congo Basin, leading to further shrinkage of rare animals such as chimpanzees. Its neighbor, Rwanda, has started blockchain technology this year to track the mining and supply of plutonium.

Aside from the factors of regional conflicts, mining and smelting new ore is far less economically and environmentally recyclable than e-waste. Researchers at Tsinghua University and Sydney University of Macquarie published in Environmental Science and Technology show that the actual mining cost is 13 times the cost of e-waste recycling. According to a 2013 study by the United Nations, the energy consumption of recycling metals such as gold, silver, aluminum and copper is only 10% of that of mining. In addition, the pollution caused by soil, air and water in the mining process cannot be ignored. In contrast, the pollution of a formal e-waste dismantling and recycling company is more controllable.

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