Urban Mining and Refining for Gold

This is not some hair brained scheme involving scamming people using "Cash for gold" scams, grave robbing or anything sinister.

This information is given freely and can be linked to. We will object to anyone copying this information and reposting it as their own work.

This is my nice way of saying I will sue your ass if you copy and post this elsewhere :)

You do this at your own risk to your health and all these experiments should be done out doors and away from children and animals as we are dealing with toxic chemicals and materials. In short if you are impatient, ADHD or have an IQ less than 100 please stop reading now.

Some background first:

All computers contain The Precious. Getting at The Precious can be a pain in the ass, though, and can be expensive. What I am going to explain is that it doesn't have to be.

The motherboards are the hardest to process followed by the video cards, sound cards, etc. The older the equipment the better. Telecom equipment is also worth looking at, as are keyboards. However, for the keyboards the old clicky ones from IBM, etc., (i.e. they make a clicking sound when you press the key down) are worth about $100 each on fleabay.

CPU's and memory sticks are what you are mainly after. Motherboards will require you beating the hell out of them to break them up and there is a lot of tin and lead on them to deal with as well.

The method:

The cheapest and easiest way to do it is to take the memory sticks and cut the gold fingers off first (the part that insert into the motherboard). Buy a mechanical shear for about $150. Or you can use a tin snips but that will quickly leave your fingers pretty messed up unless you have a lot of callouses already. An older quality paper guillotine is also pretty fast. The newer ones sold today are cheap and flimsy and will quickly fall apart.

The reason you don't want to throw the memory sticks in whole is because you will have a lot of other base metals as well as more gold, silver, platinum and palladium in the surface mount resistors and chips, so you set them aside for later processing. The same goes for the CPUs. Cut the pins off the CPUs. The chips are broken up and processed separately.

Get yourself either a white plastic pasta sieve that can fit into a five-gallon white bucket all the way to the bottom or a one-gallon white plastic bucket and drill a bunch of holes into the bottom of it. Place the cut fingers into the sieve or one-gallon bucket and place the one-gallon bucket into the five-gallon bucket. Pour in three parts HCl (muriatic acid from Home Depot) and one part 1% hydrogen peroxide (from the pharmacy) until the fingers are covered.

Other sources of Hydrogen Peroxide include pool supply stores but be careful here as it is concentrated peroxide that needs to be watered down or you will get a violent reaction.

Agitate the bucket to make sure all the cuttings are covered. You will start to notice a reaction right away. Don't stick your head in the bucket. That's chlorine gas you are smelling. For that reason outdoors is where you really want to be doing this.

I hang the bucket outside on a plant hanger so the wind will move the bucket and the contents around a little. This is what it looks like a minute into the reaction.

After 36 hours the gold will have lifted off the fingers. The copper is in suspension and some gold is also suspended in the acid. Most of the gold you will see floating around. Pour off most of the liquid carefully until you are left with gold and some crud in the bucket. Keep the liquid for further refining.

With the remaining mash in the bucket more HCl has to be added to dissolve any remaining copper, etc. A small cup should do and 30 minutes of HCl. Pour off the liquid each time you wash. It takes about three passes with HCl and you should be left with 98% pure gold in the bucket. Filter through about four stacked coffee filters and let it dry. (I would suggest going to a food wholesalers to get the filters because they will have large diameter filters.)
Then melt it. Be careful on melting as you don't want to blow it all over your garden. Some sort of ceramic container is the best thing to melt the gold in. Any sort of hobby store should have it. Or if you still have your old chemistry set then dig out your mortar and pestle.

If you have a kiln that would be ideal, but in a pinch use a blowtorch found in the plumbing section of a hardware store.

On the liquid that is left the trick here is that you need to pump up the acidity again and force the gold out of suspension. If there is enough copper or other base metals already there the acid does all the work for you. If not then a base metal has to be thrown into the mix to replace the gold in the liquid. So by tossing in some copper filings the acid will drop the gold in favor of the copper. Copper wire won't work as you need a lot of surface area. Adding more peroxide will rejuvenate the acid to a certain extent, as will bubbling air through it using your kids' fish tank equipment.  :)

Filter, and you should now have captured all the rest of the gold. It gets a little tricky if there is silver in the mix as well. So the slop bucket liquid will have to be tested for gold, etc., after filtering the solids. (More on that later).

More later on how to process the chips and surface mount components (the little metal chips): again, these have to be separated as the silicon chips will have to be crushed to get the gold thread and the surface mount doohickeys will contain all sorts of metals. Platinum, palladium, silver, base metals and even some real exotic stuff.

  • Preliminary results on a random ten-pound grab of memory from 1985 - 2005 would indicate a double on my investment.
  • Memory runs at about $16 a pound on fleabay.
  • Muriatic acid is around $7.50 a gallon and peroxide is $1.00 a litre.
  • And I haven't touched the chips or fished for palladium, etc., yet. (it will require heat and stronger acids to get palladium and platinum.)

Big refiners will crush everything and hit it with everything from cyanide to Aqua Regia (nitric plus muriatic acid) then drop the various metals out piece by piece from the resulting mush. This is not possible to do unless on a large scale and with a lot of permits.

Doing it using the household chemicals method means minimal cost and equipment. However 10 lbs of memory is about the practical limit per batch unless you obtain bigger buckets, filters, etc.

P.S. For the Silver fans check here http://screwtapefiles.blogspot.com/2011/03/free-silver.html


In case you are wondering. I was that kid who blew a hole in the chemisty lab ceiling in school. Deliberately. But ended up in hospital with all my hair burnt off my head. I was the kid who figured out how to make smoke bombs out of sugar and saltpeter and used cigarettes as fuses in every bathroom so the school had to be evacuated on the last day before before the summer holidays. Good times.

[NB: This is a draft copy and I will come back and add more information. I will publish more on the rest of the process to extract the gold, etc., from the chips and Surface Mounted Transistors (SMT's).]


Kid Dynamite said...

jeezus. I lit my friend's driveway on fire with him using starter fluid, but this is a higher level!

note, I think The Precious needs to be double-capitalized, or you can embed a Gollum soundbite..

Louis Cypher said...

It really isn't once you break it down.
I'll change The Precious. Boys feel free to edit as I was kind of rushed and recycled an email to make the post.

Yes, I was a bad kid. A really rotten kid who like to make things go boom. I have since gotten some therapy :)

/SleepingVillage/ said...

Nice. I was "that" kid, too. Back in the day when you could still smoke in public, they had white sand-filled ashtrays in the shopping malls... well, the sugar+saltpeter hides nicely in there:)

Candles and those birthday cake sparklers worked great as time-delayed fuses for the school bathroom trick, along with soaking thick cotton string in sugar+saltpeter+sweet liqueur, and then drying before igniting.

Lucky I still have all of my digits considering all the shit I blew up and lit on fire. Smart like rock... haha.

Back on topic. I may consider stockpiling a bunch of the precious-rich components. I'm gonna look into what's available locally. Thanks for the info, Louis.

Louis Cypher said...

Never had the white sand ashtrays in my neck of the woods but I like the cut of your jib. We will have to swap recipes :)

/SleepingVillage/ said...

Man, I could write a book on this stuff. "The Black Powder Chronicles" It would surprise most people if they knew the type of high expl*s*v*s you can build with everyday stuff. I better shut up now before I'm on a no-fly fry-list:) Probably too late, hah!

I was bad kid, but it taught me a lot about life.. in a strange way.

www.greenworldbvi.com said...

Unfreakin' believable. Would love to see follow-up info in another post as well. This is worth trying for the sheer joy it would bring my scientifically inclined 10 year old to watch this. He'd be peeing his pants with excitement. For a novice, any thoughts/suggestions on where one goes out to sell the gold? By the way, true story. My father recently went in to the dentist to get a really old cap from like 30 years ago replaced with a new one. The dentist does the procedure and then asks my dad if he can keep the cap. My dad is puzzled and asks why. Turns out the cap is gold, and the dentist collects all the old caps from patients and sells them them somewhere. My dad - no feel he - immediately said no, and he's now checking his teeth in the mirror for any other old caps that might need replacing!
real asset investments

Louis Cypher said...

@greenworld have fun but be careful.
I'll get into more details in a later post on what do with the stuff for the non hoarders but pretty much any reputable refiner will swap gold for cash without bending you over.
It's pretty close to 24K when you are done though. Keep stacking.

Bullion Baron said...

Where do you dispose of the acid in an environmentally friendly and low cost way once used?

Louis Cypher said...

It's not acid when you are done with it.

Louis Cypher said...

You are left with sulphates and water. Mostly coper sulphate. Lots of uses for that as a herbicide etc. However I wouldn't go nuts with it. It does make very pretty crystals if you are into crystal growing.

Bullion Baron said...

Was talking with someone the other week who tried harvesting Gold from computer components in this fashion, was pouring the remaining liquid down the sink and it ruined the underground pipes far enough under the foundation that it would be practically impossible to repair without ripping down the entire building and digging everything up.

It doesn't seem like the most environmentally friendly stuff to be puring into the garden as it will seep down into the water table and proper disposal is likely prohibitively expensive.

Interesting reading, but just hope it doesn't lead to a bunch of newbs hurting themselves or doing something stupid!

criswa said...

The industrial uses for Silver are often taken into account when analysing silver demand and the resulting pricing forecasts.
One sometimes reads that all Gold that has ever been mined is still currently available as jewellery or as precious metal stored in other forms.
This blog highlights that this is incorrect. The industrial uses of gold result in a percentage going into landfill and the like. Is this significant?
Any ideas on the effects of industrial and unreclaimed gold usage on the gold market, particularly as non-jewellery industrial use looks like increasing.

Louis Cypher said...

@bullion baron
I'm guessing your buddy was using concentrated Sulphuric or Nitric Acid in his experiments and may have bumped it up with HCL just for fun. That stuff is like Alien blood of of the Sigorney Weaver variety. What I am describing will burn you but not to the bone. If that is what he did then he recovered no gold but flushed it all down the crapper with the Acid. pH strips from the pool supply store would have alerted him if the eye water fumes didn't.

The time it takes to complete the process described means what is left is inert or no more acidic than vinegar.

Done right you should little to no nasty stuff. The really nasty crap is in the boards them selves which I do not process. I'll get into disposal in later post but they have value and can be sold.

Louis Cypher said...

you bring up an important point. The Chinese will no longer take CRT's but will still take all the electronics they can get their hands on.
But I would imagine a lot goes into the local landfills never to see the light of day. Gold off the market forever.

Puma said...

Damn! I wish I knew about this before I took all my old computers and blew them away with shotgun slugs...

Louis Cypher said...

@bullion baron
My mistake I was thinking ahead when I said Sulphates.
In this process it's base metal chlorates as the waste material and I don't do anything with them other than store them and recycle them into another extraction process.
There isn't enough there to make it worth while to extract the base metal. Or at least I haven't figured out a cheap way to do it.

Jeanne d'Arc said...

Nice post, Louis.

I've done your editing for you ;-)

But you boys are now going to have to manage on your own for a while, as I'm afraid I'll be away from the blog until June.

Have a great May, everyone!


Thoth said...

Any measurements on what kind of yields 10 lbs of memory would provide in grams roughly?

Louis Cypher said...

As I mentioned it's a double on investment (average) not inclusive of time so you will have to work your way backwards to grams. But memory comes in all shapes and sizes as do CPU's so 10 pounds of your memory will not match up with 10 pounds of my memory.You may hit a double give or take 20% depending on how careful you are and the vintage.

Warren James said...

@criswa, re: the amount of gold 'going away' - taken as a global aggregate I figure there will always be a 'flow' of gold moving into the 'economically unrecoverable' state. In theory that would be a small amount, but needs to cover things like:

1. Electronics going to land disposal (as discussed here). Tiny amounts, but significant when you consider the amount of electronic waste our society currently generates.

2. Stuff that goes into the sewer (yep). The Japanese process it though, so they recover some (link).

3. Still undiscovered ship wrecks.

4. Stuff that goes accidentally into the garbage, as happened here in Australia last year (newspaper article).

It's not the kind of thing which will move the market price, but it tallies nicely with FOA's observations that over time, some gold becomes irrecoverable (sorry I don't have a link for that).

At high enough prices, some of this recovery becomes economical again (and Louis' mining gets a boost). I just hope the new pricing doesn't kick-start large-scale mining on the world's deep sea hydrothermal vents, that would be an ecological disaster in the making.

Cullen said...

Have you been to: http://goldrefiningforum.com/ ? The landing page looks terrible but there is a ton of knowledge lurking in there. Also see: Refining Precious Metal Wastes, CM Hoke 1940, which is available many places including: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2815953/Refining-Precious-Metal-Wastes-C-M-Hoke

Louis Cypher said...

Great info on that site but as you said its a mess
Have you gone through it extensively and made notes?

Christopher Jordan said...

Dam. Wish I found you a day ago!! How bad did I screw up and what are my odds of recovery? I'm still pretty early in my process as far as components go. For five years I have been storeing about fourth front runners Six DVI hubbs thirty or so net runners and a ton of cowards ink cartridges cash drawers a few CPUs and monaters. Tried peddling local no call for them tried fleezbay only got scammers tried Craig's rapo lisp and got a date. First my fav experiments which started in lab was the breaking down h20 first filling a large balloon soaking 30 ft of string in woodgrain 99% and a lighter and of coarse u could smoke in public hell my school had ashtrays filled with what I assumed was the access sandblasting sand and metal shavings from auto shop. Don't want to write a autobiography looks like I'm on my way started to use two leeters and leave a propain torch burning about twenty ft away and watch the mushroom cliwd flame roll in on its self sounded like ten 12 gauge blasts awesome. OK I have taken three dvi hubs and a CPU apart took off the batts and as much access alu as I could and its been soaking in 4 gallons of hydrochloric I have a greenish soup I'm using a plastic tote within a larger plastic tote I have prop per venalation fans and the BBQ tongs mask rubber gloves goggles just short of a lab coat. What process would you suggest to unblunder the blunder? Can my soupdeshure not b a total loss can I still distract the precious using electrolysis or deluding and mixing another acid. Also the dvi's have these winched chips made in Singapore that have a viewing window in the center and I can see all of these tiny smaller than hair wires surrounding what I am thinking is a double crystal panel in the very center what am I looking at here?

mohammad rizwan said...

Gold in CPU'S