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Dumpster Diving gives a new meaning to Chinese Gold Farmers!


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"Each year, between 20 and 50 million tons of electronic waste is generated globally. Most of it winds up in the developing world.

Some of the most popular destinations for dumping computer hardware include China, India, and Nigeria. It can be 10 times cheaper for a “recycler” to ship waste to China than to dispose of it properly at home. With the market for e-waste expected to top $11 billion by 2009, it’s lucrative to dump on the developing world.

Computers are much more than just wires and plastic; they are also a source of highly valuable metals, including gold, copper, and aluminum. One ton of computer scrap contains more gold than 17 tons of gold ore. Circuit boards can be 40 times richer in copper than typical copper ore. For this reason, workers in e-waste dumps in the southern Chinese city of Guiyu carefully sort the computers’ hardware and melt down the most valuable parts.

Although developing countries occasionally attempt to ban e-waste, the shipments can be vital to local economies. Some disposal sites in China employ more than 100,000 people. In Guiyu, the average worker can earn between $2 and $4 a day for disassembling what was once someone else’s brand-new computer.

Imagine sheer mountains of discarded Pentium IIIs, tractor trailers overflowing with discarded wall warts. Photojournalist Natalie Behring visited Guiyu, China and documented the world's biggest digital dump where, for $2 per day, the locals sort, disassemble, and pulverize hundreds of tons of e-waste. The payoff is huge: computer waste contains 17 times more gold than gold ore, 40 times more copper than copper ore. But the detritus also leaches chemicals and metals into local water supplies.

Lead, mercury, and cadmium are a computer’s most common toxic substances. When melted down, the machines release even more toxins into the air, ground, and water."



I have a very odd urge to go to China. Hopefully I will not pull a Emmanuel Goldstein and have my web browser blocked while weird men bang on my door leading to a WTF moment.  ;)

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One ton of computer scrap contains more gold than 17 tons of gold ore

I think if there were 17 tons of gold ore, you would probably end up with more refined gold than what you could recycled from one ton of scrap. It didn't say they would get 1 ton of gold out of the scrap, but the that one ton of scarp contained more gold than 17 tons of gold ore. I'd like to see how they came up with this. Still, anyone with knowledge of how to seperate the gold from the waste material could turn a profit. Trash dumps might pay for themselves.

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