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Recycling Gold, Silver & Other Precious Metals

For centuries, man has had an undying relationship with precious metals. These metals like gold and silver are prized not only for their beauty but also value. This is the only logical explanation for the high number of gold and other precious metals that can be found sitting in central bank vaults and jewelry boxes. According to U.S Geological Survey, there is roughly 171,300 tons of gold that have been mined in history. This is rising at a high rate of 3000 tons every year.


While nothing is wrong with gold, its mining is very bad for our environment. For every ring of gold, there are roughly 20 tons of toxic wastes being generated. And the toxic substances used in the process of mining the gold like mercury and cyanide pollutes both the air we breathe and the water we drink. In fact, gold mining is the number one source of mercury pollution. It is even ahead of coal-fired power stations.

Therefore, we cannot possible continue enjoying these precious metals when they wreak havoc on our planet. Options include using mining methods that are more eco-friendly. This might mean stopping dumping the toxic wastes into oceans and rivers or stop using things like mercury and cyanide. However, the best solution is recycling of the gold that we have already.

Silver recycling

Silver is normally found in electronic and electric scrap, photographic wastes, coinage and jewelry. Given that silver is used for several different things, recycling it is very important. The demand for silver increases as the population grows. Many ways exist to enable reusing and recycling of silver. They include the following.

Scrap Silver


The simplest way to recycle silver and turn it into silver bars.  Your local coin & bullion shop can assist you with this.  To view the types of silver bars that can be made with your unused silver, check out the photos & resources at

Selling or donating

If you have a silver jewelry, consider selling it to any jewelry store or even donating it to an organization. This way, the silver will be reused. Alternatively, the jewelry store could melt and recast it to form new jewelry.

Your photographs

Did you know that the photographs you have in your album also contain silver? Just take them to a photo lab and the sliver in them can be reclaimed. Silver is reclaimed using a method called electrolysis.

Electronic devices

These are another source of silver. Computers and phones are all source of silver. Therefore, rather than discarding your phone, just take it to a collection center where it will be picked for recycling. There are cell phone companies that recycle old phones. This way, this silver can be used to make new cellphones and computers.

Recycling of gold

The beauty of gold recycling is that it does not lead to degradation in quality. Put in other words, the gold that was mined thousands of years back is just as good as that mined yesterday. It is possible to recycle this gold and repurpose it without requiring any new mining.
Electronic wastes form the biggest source of gold that should be recycled. As we dump our cable televisions, iPads, iPhones and other classy gadgets, we are throwing away gold. These can be recycled to get fresh gold that can then be used to make other new gadgets.

The amount of gold that is on hand is very huge. Not much gold that has ever been mined has been lost. In fact, it is only 3,600 tons that cannot be accounted for of all the gold mined. The rest of the gold, roughly 167,700 tons, is still traceable. Roughly a half of this has been used in making jewelry while the rest is safely locked in central bank vaults. These are used for making products like dental fillings and iPhones and others are held by investors.

As of 2012, the total amount of gold recycled or reused was less than 3% of the total supply of gold. If only 5% of the total existing gold could be recycled, the world demand for gold would have been met a long time ago.

Benefits of gold recycling

Protects the environment

Today, gold is mined using Open Pits Methods. The methods involve excavating as well as blasting huge holes on the surface of the earth. Surprisingly, only 10g of gold can be got from a ton of rock. This means that the potential for environmental degradation is massive when gold is mined and not recycled.

No toxic substance

Using cyanide in gold mining is a big cause for worry for environmentalists. This is because the compound is highly toxic not just to animals but humans alike. Recycling does not need any of cyanide, which means there is less toxic substances to people and wildlife.

Recycling of other metals

Aluminum recycling

This is another material that is commonly recycled. For instance, in 2009, there was a more than 57% recycling rate for aluminum cans. This was the highest rate ever for a beverage container. Upon dropping a used aluminum can into recycling bin, you could see its metal in in the store in just less than 60 days and it will be new as ever. Most of curbside recycling programs are ready to take aluminum cans. Although aluminum foils are also recyclable, they are rarely accepted at curbs.

Steel recycling

There are certain steel mills that rely totally on steel scrap for making new steel. Typically, there is at least 25% of recycled steel in new steel. Others contain even 100% of recycled steel in them. This is according to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Dealers in scrap metals take appliances such as ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators since these are mainly made of steel.

Future innovations

In a bid to solve the impending global shortage of raw materials supply, it is important that new technologies are developed.
To this end, University of Leuven researchers are developing a process that could allow separation of samarium and neodymium from transitional metals like manganese, iron and cobalt by using ionic liquids. Samarium and neodymium are important metals used in making permanent rare-earth magnets that are found in important electronics like hard drives and air conditioners as well as wind turbines.


Recycling of precious metals or any other metal for that matter has many benefits. This includes cheaper products, less degradation of environment and production of less toxic wastes to the environment.