Start-Up Firm Mining Gold From Unwanted PCs
A start-up company is offering to turn old unwanted electronics into solid gold.
Discarded computers and other electronic devices contain amounts of precious metals like gold and silver.
One tonne of circuit boards, for example, has 40 to 800 times the amount of gold in it than one tonne of mined gold ore.
BlueOak is creating a small-scale smelter in Arkansas, US, and partnering with collectors who gather used electronics from corporations.
The collectors will send BlueOak the parts of computers containing high-value elements, such as circuit boards.
The collectors will pay an upfront fee, the precious metals will be extracted and sold, and the majority of the profits will be returned to the collectors.
According to the UN, 50 million tonnes of electronic waste was produced worldwide in 2012.
The figure is predicted to rise to 65 million tonnes by 2017.
Priv Bradoo, BlueOak's co-founder and chief executive, said the current practice of dumping e-waste in landfill "just doesn't make sense".
Large-scale smelters already exist, but Ms Bradoo says there is a gap in the market because they only deal in mass quantities of material.
Before launching BlueOak, she was vice president of business development for LanzaTech, a start-up that turns toxic waste gases from factories into high-value fuel.
The first refinery is set to be completed by next year.