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Scrap Gold Blog

Old Smartphones Are Japanese Olympic Goldmine

Published Thursday 28th November 2019

Scrap gold can pop up in the most unlikely places. Perhaps a family member passed down an old heirloom, or you’ve got a bit of it in your pocket, which you carry with you, everywhere you go. If you have a smartphone or any number of other electronic devices that are available at the moment, there’s a high chance that it contains small traces of precious metals, including gold. That’s right - the smartphone in your pocket is a literal goldmine.

As Japan has been gearing up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Japanese government has used this knowledge to its advantage, to help ensure that the top-performing athletes have something glittering and golden, to celebrate their victories.

Land of the golden rising sun

Japan is often called the Land of the Rising Sun, but it has also become well-renowned for becoming a major player in the world of recycling, particularly when it comes to scrap gold. Between April 2017 and March 2019, the Japanese government’s Tokyo 2020 Medal Project collected over six million smartphones and other electronic devices.

When they pulled these items apart and extracted the precious metals (scrap gold included) from within, they found enough of it to help create over 5,000 Olympic medals. Solid gold medals haven’t been produced for the Summer Olympics since they were held in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 1912. Modern medals use gold plating, with the rest of the medal made of silver.

Coincidentally, the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm were the first Olympiad to feature Japan, as the first Asian nation to ever participate in the modern Olympics, after the games were revived in Athens back in 1896.

The value of recycling scrap gold

The example given by the Japanese Olympic medal scheme goes to show how easy it is to recycle scrap gold into any shape, no matter where it came from. A BBC News story in 2014 revealed that 35-40 smartphones can yield as much as one gram of gold.

However, despite this seeming like a lucrative way of finding the yellow metal, there’s a catch - if gold mining was to cease worldwide, there is so little gold to be found in all the world’s unwanted electronics, that we would run out of gold within just 23 days.

You don’t have to hand in an old phone to sell scrap gold with us, here at Scrap Gold UK. We happily accept a number of items, including jewellery, gold bullion and coins. Selling to us means that if you’re selling a scrap gold item of particular sentimental value, but you don’t wish to simply sell it for someone else to have, we’ll be more than happy to melt the item down entirely.

If you’re ready to sell, make sure to fill in this form with all the necessary details.

You’re more than welcome to get in touch with Scrap Gold UK, if you have any further queries about selling.

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