The Basics of Gold Recycling: Can Your Business Profit From Gold?

Gold has long been valued due to its extreme rarity. It’s not easy to extract gold out of the ground, and there are only about 3,000 tons of it mined each year worldwide. However, these days there’s gold all around us, whether it’s in the jewellery that we wear or in small quantities in the electronics that just about everyone owns.

Whether you’re looking for a side hustle or your business already involves belongings that contain gold, let’s take a look at where recycled gold comes from and how you can profit from it.

#1 Dental Scrap

Gold is often used in dental prosthetics like crowns, inlays, and onlays. Dental practices don’t need to do much to make money from gold recycling. Recycling companies like Muzeum Dental Refining offer dental scrap collection kits that dentists can use to collect dental scrap over time. Once they’ve accumulated enough, they can send it off to the refiner.

The refiner does all the work of extracting the gold and pays based on how much you’ve collected. All the dentist needs to do is get consent from the patient.

#2 Old and Broken Jewellery

Old, broken, and unwanted jewellery is a great source of recyclable gold, and you usually get a lot more gold from broken jewellery than from other recyclable sources. Jewellery is usually alloyed with other metals to make it less malleable and less easily dented than pure gold, but there are typically gold buyers that will pay higher prices for old jewellery and handle the refining process themselves.

#3 Electronics

According to some practitioners, chemical recovery of gold from electronics does not take much skill, but you should take safety precautions such as wearing goggles, gloves, and overalls, and you should have a basic understanding of chemistry and the dangers of working with and mixing chemicals.

Make sure you research the process thoroughly, but this is a brief overview of what gold recycling from electronics looks like:

  • Collect the scraps where the gold is actually found. This is usually SIM cards and the back components of LCD screens. Separate gold-plated steel parts with a magnet.
  • Strip circuit boards by placing them in a glass vessel and submerge them in an appropriate chemical mixture of hydrochloric acid (do your research on how to do this safely!) to remove gold flakes from other scraps.
  • Collect the gold flakes using a coffee filter, then flush the gold flakes with water, wash them with methanol, and rinse again with water.
  • You can then melt the gold flakes together, though be sure to use the proper equipment.

Electronics do not use a lot of gold. Laptops and CPUs only have about 0.15 grams of gold, and a phone might have 0.2 grams. Industrial video equipment is notable for having a lot of gold content. It can make sense to extract and recycle gold from electronics if you can collect free e-waste and have the time. At the moment, only about 12.5% of the gold used in electronics winds up getting recycled, so there’s certainly room in the market.

Whether or not gold recycling makes sense for your business depends on the difficulty of extracting it and your access to sources. Dental offices don’t have to invest much in the process, while jewellers and pawn shops can probably make more recycling gold than recycling broken jewellery. Electronics are trickier, but if you have the time and knowledge of chemistry, it can be a profitable side hustle.