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Recovering Gold and Precious metals from Circuit Boards

Congratulations, you have decided to enter to the amazing world of computer recycling and electronics recycling, recovering gold and precious metals from E waste is one of the most interesting and challenging practice in the recycling Industry.

All electronic devices contains inside of them circuit boards, in this article we will discuss about the most common circuit boards that can be found in a normal computer.

beside the power supply (with some exceptions) all of the circuit boards in the computer contains some precious metals in them: Motherboards, ISA cards, graphic cards, memory card etc… you get the point.
Most circuit boards contain all sort of precious metals: Gold, Silver, Palladium and sometimes Platinum.

All circuit boards contain base metals: Copper, Nickel, Aluminum, Zinc, Tin, Lead and Iron. As well, small amount of hazardous elements like Beryllium, Barium and others that has to be considered while processing scrap circuit boards.

To get those precious metals we first need to identify what component contains each metal, so lets have a look at some of the most common computer circuit boards. Of course there are thousands of different types of components and even more circuit boards types so oviesly we can't tuch them all, but the example below is sufficient to grasp the general idea.

Here is a common circuits boards Pictures with components highlighted:

Scrap Motherbard
Scrap Motherbard

Scrap ISA card
Scrap ISA card

A – North and south bridge, also known as "Flat Packs", contains microscale gold wires inside and gold plated traces between the epoxy packege to the fiber.

B – Female connector pins, plated with gold.

C – PCI and Memory slots, gold plated pins inside.

D – Integrated circuit, also known as quad IC, contains microscale gold wires inside.

E – Monolithic ceramic capacitor, this SMD (Surface mount device) contains Palladium and some types contains Silver/Palladium.

Visible gold plated pins and edges do not need mentioning.
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Recovery & Refining of Precious Metals

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