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Giant e-waste scrap market is a gold mine for precious metals

Published Wednesday 6th July 2016

The precious metal from your broken and unwanted gold jewellery that you can convert into cash is generally melted down and used to create new jewellery designs.

But as we’ve explored in previous articles, gold is a very important component in modern electronics from your laptop to your smart phone, where it is used in the circuitry.

Much of the scrap gold used in phones and computers is recycled many times over. The beauty of gold is that it can be used again and again without losing any of its quality. Plus, recycled gold is cheaper for manufacturers to buy than freshly-mined precious metals.

In India, the second biggest importer of gold in the world, there is a thriving market for recycled gold. The country is home to a giant e-waste market in Seelampur, where old and broken computers, fridges, phones, computers and television sets are sent to be scrapped.

The sheer size of the scrap market means it attracts tens of thousands of people, who come to remove the scrap gold and other metals, such as copper, which can be sold on for reuse. There is a mixture of independent workers at the site and people working for large companies, spending all day extracting the scrap gold and metals from the e-waste.

Muhammad Hameed owns a scrap shop and has been working at the market for four decades, making a living by removing the metals from old circuit boards.

People are paid both by the volume of scrap metal they are able to find and the type, with gold paying the best rates.

Ishtiyaq, who runs a scrap factory, told the Daily Mail: “There is a demand for gold and copper. There are copper manufacturing plants that mostly buy and purify the extracts. They pay a good amount.”