Urban Mining: Gold in our trash (2015)

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Published on September 29, 2020 by

Our waste is worth money. Recovering it has started up a new global industry worth billions. It is called Urban Mining and it appears to be the solution for many of our environmental problems and our energy needs. And it is hot. A ton of broken mobile phones, computers or other electronic waste contains sixty times the amount of gold a ton of gold ore has. Moreover, it is easier to get at. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of total world demand for rare metals can be covered by urban mining and this is only the beginning.

Urban Mining has a different, almost hilarious consequence: for years we have dumped our electronic waste in developing countries, with our eyes closed. There, it was to be recycled. But in Africa only one quarter of the gold, platinum and coltan is recovered whereas the newest technology in Belgium recovers almost 99 percent. So somewhere there’s a profit to be made. The NGO ‘Closing the Loop’ is buying up dead mobile phones and computer parts that we have dumped in developing countries making our waste a desirable sales item over there.
Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2015.
© VPRO Backlight March 2015

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www.VPRObroadcast.com

Credits:
Director: Frank Wiering
Research: Olaf Oudheusden
Producer: Jenny Borger
Editors: Marije Meerman, Doke Romeijn
English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson.
French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.

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