In Japan's landfills, there is enough gold, silver and platinum to propel the country into the top tier of resource-producing countries - along with Australia, Brazil and Canada.
The millions of electronics that are discarded each year, including televisions, mobile phones, MP3 players and computers, have created so-called “urban mines.”
These mines, according to a new survey by the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, have untapped resources that no one has figured out how to extract yet. With all the materials found in the discarded electronics, Japan now has three times as much gold, silver and indium, a thin coating used for LCDs, as the world needs each year. The amount of platinum hidden in them thar landfills is six times as much as global consumption.
The high concentration of precious metals is an indication of two things: consumers in Japan replace their electronic items very quickly and only 13 per cent, or about 550 tonnes a year, are recycled.
For each phone (and about 20 million mobile phones are replaced by the Japanese annually) the remnants of copper, gold, lead, palladium, tin, titanium and zinc could be removed. The Japanese government is now looking at ways to encourage consumers to gather their discarded cell phones, computers and other electronics and recycle them while looking at how to excavate the landfills to mine these metals.
Via: Times Online