Segments in this Video

Mobile Gold: The Promise of Urban Mining: Introduction (01:27)


Urban mining provides an opportunity to clear waste and make money; gold recovery is an industry worth billions of dollars.

Umicore (02:20)

Approximately 1,600 people look for precious and base metals in piles of electronic waste. Experts believe 40% of the demand for precious metals can be recovered through urban mining. Nearly 2 billion mobile phones are sold every year.

Urban Mining Industry (02:57)

E-waste growth is expected to increase 500% in the next 10 years. Umicore employees strip mobile phones to recover precious and base metals. Thierry van Kerckhoven compares metal recovery to that of traditional mining and discusses dumping waste in third world countries.

Agbogbloshie (03:23)

Industrialized countries dump millions of tons of electronic waste in Agbogbloshie every year. Children as young as five dismantle the waste; burning plastics releases heavy metal toxins in the air.

Closing the Loop (02:42)

Linked to the Dutch company, Fairphone purchases dead phones in Africa and recycles them at Umicore. Joost de Kluijver visits Agbogbloshie and talks with Mike Anane about health problems.

Recycling for Profit (03:51)

Umicore pays suppliers one euro per phone. Van Kerckhoven reflects on mobilizing Ghana's population to collect dead phones. In the 1990s, a significant amount of e-waste was exported to Africa.

Recovering Metals (04:59)

The lake in Agbogbloshie is toxic. Experts reveal a large stash of collected mobile phones; recycling in Belgium is more efficient and cleaner. Van Kerckhoven explains the recycle process at Umicore.

Information Center Collection Day (03:25)

Several Ghanese trade their mobile phones for money; they complain about the price. Some individuals are professional phone sellers.

Creating Income through Urban Mining (03:04)

Van Kerckhoven believes people are more aware of the consequences of waste dumping. De Kluijver believes urban mining reuses metals in a responsible way; he discusses computer waste.

Circle Market, Accra (02:45)

Closing the Loop agents purchase broken material at the telecommunications equipment market. Mobile phone turnover rates are high in Africa. China has closed its doors on exporting rare Earth metals.

Electronic Waste Recycling (03:35)

See the end products Umicore produces from e-waste. De Kluijver states that Closing the Loop's mission is to be redundant; the organization transfers knowledge. Vodafone will participate in phone collection programs.

Landfill Mining (02:24)

Europe has approximately 150,000 mountains of waste covered by parks and golf courses. Peter Tom Jones explains the purpose of landfill mining.

Reusable Raw Materials (03:47)

Plastic drinking straws can fuel plasma rock technology. Experts discuss recovering waste and transforming it into energy and building material.

Waste Energy (01:54)

The Houthalen landfill can generate enough energy to supply 200,000 homes for 20 years. Jones explains the gasplasma cycle and discusses creating a decentralized model.

Gas Gasma Plant (01:28)

The demonstration facility uses high temperatures to gasify, vaporize, or melt waste. Approximately one fifth of household energy in the U.K. could come from fresh household waste.

Waste Transition Period (02:56)

EURELCO receives requests from other countries about their waste technology. Jones discusses "re-mining Europe." De Kluijver discusses working with larger partners to collect and recycle mobile phones. Umicore was a metal supplier for the Olympic medals.

Credits: Mobile Gold: The Promise of Urban Mining (00:33)

Credits: Mobile Gold: The Promise of Urban Mining

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Mobile Gold: The Promise of Urban Mining

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Our waste is worth money. Recovering it has started up a new global industry worth billions. It is called Urban Mining and it appears to be the solution for many of our environmental problems and our energy needs. A ton of broken mobile phones, computers or other electronic waste contains sixty times the amount of gold a ton of gold ore has. Moreover, it is easier to get at. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of total world demand for rare metals can be covered by urban mining and this is only the beginning. Urban Mining has a different, almost hilarious consequence: for years we have dumped our electronic waste in developing countries, with our eyes closed. There, it was to be recycled. But in Africa only one quarter of the gold, platinum and coltan is recovered whereas the newest technology in Belgium recovers almost 99 percent. So somewhere there’s a profit to be made. The NGO ‘Closing the Loop’ is buying up dead mobile phones and computer parts that we have dumped in developing countries making our waste a desirable sales item over there. In Houthalen, Belgium, a start has been made to dig up landfills of which half the waste material, such as slag, steel, copper and other metals can be recycled into usable raw materials. The rest is incinerated, using a new plasma technology which produces green energy that can cover the energy need of 200,000 households for 20 years. The principle of urban mining seems the solution for many of our environmental problems and our energy need. It creates a new recycling industry, gets rid of our waste for us and presents developing countries with a new business model.

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL111598

ISBN: 978-1-68272-770-6

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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