Business | July 20, 2012
Annual gold, silver 'deposits' in high-tech goods worth $21bn+
New PCs, cell phones, tablets, other e-products now use 320 tons of gold, 7,500 tons of silver per year, and rising “Urban mining” deposits are 40 to 50 times richer than mined ore, experts tell 1st GeSI and StEP e-Waste Academy in Africa
A staggering 320 tons of gold and more than 7,500 tons of silver are now used annually to make PCs, cell phones, tablet computers and other new electronic and electrical products worldwide, adding more than $21 billion in value each year to the rich fortunes in metals eventually available through “urban mining” of e-waste, experts say. Manufacturing these high-tech products requires more than $16 billion in gold and $5 billion in silver: a total of $21 billion -- equal to the GDP of El Salvador -- locked away annually in e-products. Most of those valuable metals will be squandered, however; just 15% or less is recovered from e-waste today in developed and developing countries alike. Electronic waste now contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mined from the ground, experts told participants from 12 countries at last week’s first-ever GeSI and StEP e-Waste Academy for policymakers and small businesses, co-organized in Accra, Ghana by the United Nations University and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). Quantities of gold, silver and other precious metals available for recovery are rising in tandem with the fast-growing sales of electronic and electrical goods, including the new category of tablet computers (with 100 million in estimated unit sales this year, a figure expected to almost double in 2014). With respect to gold alone, electronic and electrical products consumed 5.3% (197 tons) of the world’s supply in 2001 and 7.7% last year (320 tons -- equal to 2.5% of the US gold reserves in the vaults of both Fort Knox, Kentucky, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York). In that same decade, even as the world’s annual gold supply rose 15% -- from about 3,900 tons in 2001 to 4,500 tons in 2011 -- the price per ounce leapt from under $300 to more than $1,500. Thanks to the volume and value of precious metals e-waste contains, developing countries with an active informal recycling sector collect as much as 80-90% of their locally-generated e-waste. However, some 50% of the gold in e-waste is lost in crude dismantling processes in developing countries (compared with 25% in developed countries); just 25% of what remains is recovered using backyard recycling processes (compared with 95% at a modern high-tech recycling facility). The bottom line in rich and poor countries alike: just 10-15% of the gold in e-waste is recovered; at least 85% is lost. “Efforts such as the GeSI and StEP e-Waste Academy help create networks among policymakers and other relevant stakeholders for sharing information, ideas and best practices to foster real e-waste solutions and enable the transition to a closed loop and green economy,” said Luis Neves, Chairman of GeSI. “More sustainable consumption patterns and material recycling are essential if consumers continue to enjoy high-tech devices that support everything from modern communications to smart transport, intelligent buildings and more.” “Rather than looking at e-waste as a burden, we need to see it as an opportunity,” Alexis Vandendaelen of Belgium-based Umicore Precious Metals Refining told the participants. He recommended replacing notions of “waste management” with “resource management,” to enlarge their focus from mass and volume of used materials to include the quality of certain waste fractions, and to use solutions appropriate to local circumstances combined with internationally available strengths to pursue efficient, environmentally-sound recycling. A “best of two worlds” approach is needed for domestically-generated e-waste in developing countries: efficient local pre-processing followed by maximum recovery of materials and proper treatment of residual waste in countries with the best technologies for the job, with proceeds shared fairly and equitably. Chris Slijkhuis of MBA Polymers, a global firm specialised in recycling plastics, noted that a ton of plastic created through recycling requires one tenth as much water and energy as new plastic, and produces one to three fewer tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas largely blamed for climate change. Recycling just half the plastics in e-waste from the European Union alone would save 5 million kilowatt hours of energy, over 3 million barrels of oil in feedstock and nearly 2 million tons of CO2 emissions. “One day -- likely sooner than later -- people will look back on such costly inefficiencies and wonder how we could be so short sighted and wasteful of natural resources,” said Ruediger Kuehr, Executive Secretary of the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative. “We need to recover rare elements to continue manufacturing IT products, batteries for electric cars, solar panels, flat-screen televisions and other increasingly popular products,” said Dr. Kuehr who is also head of the responsible Operating Unit of United Nations University, based in Bonn, Germany. Beyond the lost opportunity to recover valuable resources -- which also include copper, tin, cobalt, and palladium -- discarded consumer electronics that end up in landfills or are exported to developing countries create potential health and environmental hazards, he added. Said André Habets, head of research and development at the NVMP Association in the Netherlands, a sponsor of the academy: “We commit a lot of effort to trying to ensure that the e-waste generated in our country remains here and is recycled here, and we advocate tough measures against the illegal export of e-waste. Each of the parties involved needs to take its responsibility to solve the e-waste problem. If an actor doesn’t do this voluntarily, the relevant responsibility needs to be established by law.”
Verkotan selects PWC technology from Rohde & Schwarz Test and measurement specialist Rohde & Schwarz has recently introduced the R&S PWC200, the first plane wave converter (PWC) on the market. Verkotan is the first independent test house to choose this technology to test 5G NR FR1 base stations over-the-air (OTA).
Kurt Sievers takes the helm at NXP At its annual general meeting of shareholders, the appointment of Kurt Sievers as the company’s next CEO was overwhelmingly approved.
Excelitas’ Qioptiq subsidiary expands with new plant Excelitas Technologies, a company delivering photonic solutions, sats that its Qioptiq subsidiary held a ground-breaking ceremony last week to mark the beginning of construction for a new factory in Göttingen, Germany.
Farnell adds Sorensen power supplies to its roster Distributor Farnell announces that it has added Sorensen, the premier DC programmable power supply brand from Ametek, to its range of power supplies.
Infineon raises EUR 1 billion following successful share placement Infineon informs that the company placed 55 million new shares, following an accelerated bookbuilding process with institutional investors, under the exclusion of subscription rights. The shares were placed at a price of EUR19.30 per share, meaning that the company managed to raise EUR 1.06 billion.
Skeleton Technologies strengthens management with new COO Skeleton Technologies has appointed Ants Vill, former Vice President of Product, as Chief Operating Officer.
SiPearl chooses Germany for its first international operational subsidiary SiPearl, a designer of the microprocessor for the European exascale supercomputer, is opening its first international subsidiary in Duisburg, in the Ruhr region, Germany, in order to build closer connections with its German partners and future clients.
DELO reports increased revenues despite current pandemic DELO closed the financial year that ended on March 31 with a turnover of EUR 163 million. This is an increase of almost 5% compared to the previous year (EUR 156 million).
China falls far short of its "Made-in-China 2025" goal IC production in China represented 15.7% of its $125 billion IC market in 2019, up only slightly from 15.1% five years earlier in 2014. IC Insights forecasts that this share will increase by 5.0 percentage points to 20.7% in 2024 (one percentage point per year on average).
COVID-19 highlights the gravity of the secondary market for SME Cha Jin-Seok, Chief Financial Officer of SK Hynix, said it best in the company’s Q1 earnings call, “Because of a never experienced pandemic, even basic business activities such as maintaining normal operations and predicting future demand have become challenging tasks.”
GlobalFoundries to implement ITAR at US manufacturing facility GlobalFoundries plans to implement export control security measures at its most advanced manufacturing facility, Fab 8, in Malta, New York.
Rebound Electronics expands in Asia The independent supplier of electronic components says it is investing to increase its market coverage in Asia with the opening of several new offices and setting up a customer service & telesales centre.
Samsung expands foundry capacity with new production line Samsung Electronics says that it plans to boost its foundry capacity at the company's new production line in Pyeongtaek, Korea, to meet growing global demand for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) solutions.
Super Dry Totech expands Long Term Storage Solutions offering The most recent development for Super Dry Totech, is the acquisition of a new building to expand on capacity & to minimise risk by assuring continuity should a disrupting incident occur in one of the facilities.
Ynvisible acquires electrochromic display company rdot Printed electronics specialist, Ynvisible Interactive, announces that it will acquire the printed electrochromic displays business of rdot AB of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Manz receives follow-up order for display production equipment Manz says it has received an order with a total volume in the low double-digit million euro range for display production equipment.
Aehr Receives initial order from new customer for FOX-NP solution Aehr Test Systems says it has received orders from a new customer and their subcontract manufacturing supplier for a FOX solution including a FOX-NP full wafer test system, an initial WaferPak Contactor, and a FOX WaferPak Aligner to perform production qualification of their silicon photonics devices.Load more news