Friday, February 3, 2017

Top Methods for Cashing in and Recovering Gold from Electronic Scrap

By now it's no secret that cell phones, computers, and other electronic "scrap" contains gold.  Gold and silver are both excellent conductors and highly corrosion-resistant, which would make them ideal metals to use for all sorts of electronic applications, if it wasn't for the high cost of precious metals (especially when compared to copper, which is a very acceptable substitute in most cases).

Even so, printed circuit boards, electroplated connectors, and almost-microscopic wires of solid gold are used in cell phones, computers, and many other high-end electronics.  The trick, then, is finding out which of these electronic devices contains the most gold and which devices can you source at a price that allows the economic recovery of that gold.

Most of those questions are beyond the scope of this article but I promise they will be covered in detail later so please check back.  The point of mentioning it now is to plant the ideas in your head, so you can start looking at different types of electronics, figuring out their approximate gold recovery contents, and finding places to buy those gold-bearing electronics for cheap (or even FREE since many people are more than happy to get rid of old computers and other electronics that are no longer used).

Back to the topic at hand... Once you've got gold-bearing electronic scrap, how do you turn it into money?  Let's look at some of the most popular ways...

Recover Gold from Electronic Scrap Yourself

Many of us who start acquiring more than a little electronic gold scrap start thinking about, and looking into, recovering all that gold ourselves.  Be warned... Methods used to recover gold from electronics involve using concentrated acids and harsh chemicals with potentially very bad consequences.  Plus the results will vary depending on your skills, education, and viability of the process used.  Add that to the difficulty and cost of sourcing chemicals and recovering gold from electronic scrap isn't very feasible or economical except to those highly knowledgeable with enough material to process on a larger scale.  Not recommended for the beginner.

Send Your Electronic Scrap to a Refiner

Did you know that there are electronic scrap refiners ready to take your old electronics and pay for the precious metals recovered from them?  Now, since we're dealing on the Refiner level here (larger scale), don't expect them to be interested in your old cell phone and a broken clock radio.  These guys are gonna want some sort of volume, although how much can vary greatly depending on which one you choose.  If you've only got a few old scrap electronics to sell, either save them up until you can meet a minimum shipment amount, or look to your local electronic scrap recyclers (although they likely won't pay much, if anything).

Rather than making a list of refiners (maybe we can do that later), it's easy enough to do a search for "electronic scrap refiner" and sift through the results.  When choosing a refiner, it's important to match their capabilities with the "type" of electronic scrap you want to sell (most will grade the scrap from high to low depending on the precious metal content and difficulty of recovery).

So, not only do you need volume (a lot of electronic scrap) when dealing with a refiner, it needs to be sorted according to their accepted grades.  Each grade usually has a minimum processing amount so you can't cash in on any of your scrap of a specific grade, until you've accumulated a substantial amount of it.  This can make it difficult for the small-time electronic scrapper to cash in unless you specialize and focus on only acquiring high-grade scrap.

The biggest benefit of cashing in electronic scrap with a refiner is that you'll get paid a higher overall amount on the gold (and other precious metals) recovered.  In addition, refiners have the ability to process large volumes of scrap electronics in every conceivable grade.  So if you can be successful on the small end with one refiner, there is ample room to scale your endeavors (and success) substantially.

Resell on eBay

This has become my favorite method for cashing in on electronic scrap gold... sell it on eBay.  This can be highly profitable (especially gold scrap from computers) but you gotta do it right and source your electronic scrap for cheap or you'll just be wasting time and money.

The basic ideas is to find old computers and computer parts for cheap or free (look locally at thrift stores, yard sales, craigslist, Facebook groups, etc, etc).  You pull out the high grade gold scrap and sort it, then when each sorted "group" of parts is large enough, you sell it as a lot on eBay, making sure to use keywords like "electronic gold scrap" in the title.

Here are several high gold content components from computers...

  • CPUs
  • RAM/Memory
  • Gold Plated Pins/Connectors
  • The edges of expansion cards (gold-plated "fingers")
  • etc, etc, etc

*As a side note, old cell phones also have a lot of higher gold content components and if you collect enough of them, can do the same thing with cell phones as I'm describing with computers here.

Do a quick search on eBay for the older CPUs, but add the words "gold scrap".  Some older computer CPUs (and other components) contained high amounts of gold, and can be resold for good prices (individually or in a group).  Some of the older, but still common CPUs that you can find in old computers, can be sold for $10-20 or more by themselves, still leaving the rest of the computer to salvage more precious metals (aka, value) from.

While this list wasn't exhaustive, hopefully it gave you some ideas and insights into making money on scrap gold in electronics.

Thanks for reading!