When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Mining Mobile Phones For The Industrial Metals Within

Cell phones contain trace amounts of gold, silver, copper and other valuable minerals. Lawmakers in Germany are cluing into these hidden treasures, but haven't yet come up with an effective way to harvest them.



Germans are hoarding nearly two tons of gold – without even realizing it. The costly metal is hidden away in some 80 million no-longer-used mobile phones, each phone containing about 25 milligrams. Add it up and that comes to around 80 million euros worth.

The hidden treasure is beginning to draw attention from both industry and government. "Mobile phones that are no longer in use are a real storehouse of primary materials," says Parliamentary State Secretary Katherina Reiche. Gold is just one of the approximately 60 different materials built into mobiles, which also contain silver and copper. Approximately 80% of those minerals could be reused. A million mobiles harbor 150 kilos of silver and several tons of copper.

Even if quantities in each individual phone are minimal, says Bernhard Rohleder, general manager of Bitko, a high tech association, it adds up and could help considerably in dealing with the problem of dwindling natural resources. Lead, nickel, bismuth, tin, antimony and iridium are also used in mobile phones. Presently some 3% of silver resources worldwide, and 4% of gold, is being used in the manufacture of mobile phones.

So far, however, Germans have shown themselves reluctant to part with their old phones: it is estimated that only 3% of mobile phones are recycled. Even if they are willing to turn over their used mobiles, Germany doesn't have the necessary systems in place to receive and collect the devices. Then there's the logistical problem of how exactly to extract the valuable metals. According to experts, it will take five to 10 years before a recycling system for rare earths can be built up in Europe.

Read the full story in German by Thomas Heuzeroth

Photo - cogdogblog

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


AI And War: Inside The Pentagon's $1.8 Billion Bet On Artificial Intelligence

Putting the latest AI breakthroughs at the service of national security raises major practical and ethical questions for the Pentagon.

Photo of a drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

Drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

Sarah Scoles

Number 4 Hamilton Place is a be-columned building in central London, home to the Royal Aeronautical Society and four floors of event space. In May, the early 20th-century Edwardian townhouse hosted a decidedly more modern meeting: Defense officials, contractors, and academics from around the world gathered to discuss the future of military air and space technology.

Things soon went awry. At that conference, Tucker Hamilton, chief of AI test and operations for the United States Air Force, seemed to describe a disturbing simulation in which an AI-enabled drone had been tasked with taking down missile sites. But when a human operator started interfering with that objective, he said, the drone killed its operator, and cut the communications system.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest