Landfills: A Source for Gold Mining?

mr_t.jpgI’ve never been fond of society’s craving for gold. It seems like a serious waste of time for some shiny metal and stories like this one (BBC) only make me feel worse about it. Still, it’s probably not going to stop being popular for a very long time. Therefore, we’d best come up with better ways of getting our hands on it.
Check out this Fast Company article. It’s about the concept of “Peak Metals” – the idea being that not only oil, but various metals, gold among them, are also reaching a level of demand that is ultimately unsustainable. On the one hand, this means a lot more destructive mining, but on the other hand it means more creativity. Turns out that a ton of dead computers has more gold in it than 17 tons of ore. As a result, “landfill mining” may start becoming a common practice. I can imagine it being practical for other things besides gold too.
I don’t know what it would take to make such a practice cost effective, nor how long it might last. Also, in the future, better manufacturing and dissasembly practices will mean that most valuable material will be recoved from the computers long before they reach a landfill. Nontheless, it’s a cool idea and one that might pay the costs of needed landfill cleanup!

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.