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topic 19149

Recycling gold from scrap PC boards


I am electrochemical engineer, with years of electroplating experience. A friend of mine wants to recycle gold from PC boards contacts. He has some 100 kg, or so. I would like to help him and set up the process for him. Reverse electroplating, or similar process, that can do it from your experiences,or knowledge, would be great. I do not want to reinvent the wheel,and I know that aqua regia etc..are not good enough for that. So I am looking for the process (if there is any),that can do it electrochemically. I will set him up the safe system and all needed. I need the process, recipe, place to look for, anything in that direction. We have no company in our country that would do that on the small scale. Please advice me.


Ruth Mirkovic
- Jerusalem, Israel


Estimated quantity : 4 gr. gold / kilos contact Are you satisfied about 400 gr. of gold ? The process is very simple but know- how is a little expensive !

Very truly, yours

Penescu Gabriel
- Fagaras, Romania


Where and How to get the raw material? From America, Europe? Free?

Eric Chen
- XuZhou, JiangSu, China


I too would like to Know how to extract/recycle gold from PC scraps. I have access to tons of these scraps. Would appreciate any form of info on the subject. Thank you.

Jyh Ming, Ling
- Ayer Tawar, Perak, Malaysia


I would like information on how to recycle computer parts.

Thank you,

Lyle Ulledahl
- Minot, North Dakota


I have been in the computer recycling business for 10 years. The amount of gold on these boards will not justify the expense of setting up a recycling operation. Boards made after 1995 have very little gold on them. Older boards may give a better yield but you would need at least a ton to get started. I am interested in setting up a computer recycling operation overseas. The main value in used computers is in the memory & hard drives.

Louis Botel
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


There are a number of methods that may be used. Reverse electroplating is generally fairly simple and can be done using an automotive battery charger [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] , a stainless steel plate, a carbon rod (or another stainless steel sheet), a 5 gallon detergent bucket and some commonly available (and inexpensive chemicals). This method works well for certain types of scrap; clipped leads and ends for instance and heavy plated scrap. Whole PCB scrap COULD also be done this way, but you would need to first crush and burn to reduce the volume and get rid of waste materials. You can also use AR (Aqua Regia method), Cyanide Leach (or alternative using a product called Cyanide Leach Substitute or CLS), mercury, etc.

I generally use AR for everything. Processors, memory and clipped leads all provide excellent returns. I also do the rest of the PCB, after crushing and burning. Hard drives, in my experience, take so long to dismantle that they are worth more to me as dirty aluminum scrap than anything. If you spend the time to come up with a better method for retrieving the scrap from the read/write head and platters inside the drive, then they too may be profitable (a lot of people swear by them).

In my experience, whole PCB board of mixed type from mixed sources will provide around 1-3 USD/lb profit after expenses using AR.

Also, don't forget about the other metals out there! Gold isn't everything. Silver, PGMS, tantalum,aluminum, lead and copper all have a ton of potential. Steel scrap can be profitable as well. The plastics and etc. that are left over are almost all saleable as well. Even the gunk left from the AR method has a slight value to PCB manufacturers.

Whether 100 KG is enough to make money or not is anybody's guess... It all depends on what you've got. 100 KG of low grade board might only be a couple of hundred dollars. 100 KG of the right ICS/RAM/CPU/Leads might be a few thousand dollars. What you have is probably going to fall somewhere between these extremes.

Richard Alcorn
- Cushing, Oklahoma


What's the easiest method for recycling 9 ct gold. I have access to loads but is it worth the effort? is it possible to turn lots of 9 ct into small quant of 24?

Eddie Lonergan
prospector - Cardiff, South Wales


Recovering Gold & Other Precious Metals from Electronic Scrap [Kindle Edition /ebook]

Refining Precious Metal Wastes
from Abe Books


"Recovery And Refining Of Precious Metals"
by C.W. Ammen
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

Eddie Lonergan:

Easiest way to purify 9 ct gold to near 24 ct gold is to chip/file/grind gold down to small pieces and soak in HCl or Nitric acid. All filler metal, usually copper/nickel, will dissolve, leaving only gold. Then melt left over gold in ceramic crucible using a blow torch.

Recently did this for a friend of mine. He had misc pieces of misc carat gold and wanted it refined to a pure gold. By specific gravity test, end chunk was around 95% pure gold.

Rod Smith
- Las Vegas, Nevada


I am sure there has to be a place in the US where they would be able to recycle PC components especially old processors that contain a fairly decent amount of gold. The question remains where we can find these places. Does anyone know. I tried searching google but came empty handed. I can get many old processors but they would be of no value for me if I cannot extract the gold. Please help me if you can.

Haig Kancashian
salvage computers - Edison, New Jersey


Hello, Haig. Just put "precious metal refinery" (with the quotes) into a search engine.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Where can I find salvage computer parts for little or no money? I have recently been learning about the refining process, but need to find a supplier for the CPUs, etc. Many of you have indicated you have an abundance of the raw materials; where are you getting them? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tracy Bedgood
hobbyist - Ball Ground, Georgia


I was able to find this refinery. They appear to accept anything from raw circuit boards to cleaned/separated chips and connectors,

This is the only site that I have found thus far that does this. It appears that you pay a fee (Lot fee + per pound processing fee (decreasing fee tiers for greater weights in tons). I have yet to determine if this is feasible/profitable. Fees appear high and getting 2 tons of chips seems daunting if done by hand and probably not cost effective would be my guess.

Mark Parrish
- Kansas City, Missouri


Once I remove gold from a PC, where do I go from there? Someone told me it had to be melted into bars and stamped as to it's purity... Any comments would be appreciated.

Michael Odem
hobbyist - Sacramento, California

March 25, 2008

What is the household chemicals to use for reverse electro plating recovery. Drano [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]? hydrogen peroxide? I have hundreds of PC mainboards, ISA Cards, PCI Cards, VESA Cards, Memory Boards, CPU's, Hard Drives,CD-Rom Drives, Power Supplies, Phone Batteries, PC UPS's plus more various electronics, Have been saving for years and want to recover the gold from them, What is the Cheapest, Safest Way to do this, Details Please, As in Chemicals and Methods Would be Appreciated. Thanks, Tom, Computers.

Tom Datsun
- Ohio

March 2008

Hi, although this advice probably won't be well received, every major environmental organization in the world is begging you not to attempt non-professional recovery of this gold from e-waste because: the chemicals are an environmental problem; breaking apart the components in a non-secure environment spreads the toxins everywhere; and "cherry picking" the gold off the circuit boards guarantees the non-viability of recycling the rest of the waste, and thereby paving the earth with this toxic garbage. Good luck with the gold recovery, but please see this video first.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 9, 2008

I have a number of IBM Mainframe 308X 3090 chips, Where can I get them processed and at what value?

Mike Trueser
- Illinois

March 23, 2009

Better to sell the boards as scrap, saves you a lot of trouble, time and energy, if its a high grade board you can make a nice profit.

Peter Renkema
- Middelburg, Zeeland, Netherlands

April 6, 2009

I am in need of the chemicals needed for the reverse electroplating process. Can anyone tell me how to obtain them? I am lost.

Arthur Jackson
student - Mukilteo,Washington

May 28, 2009

I do not know if no one is listening at all here, I can personally attest to the fact that there is very little profitability in one person sitting in there garage going through less then a ton of mid grade boards. Not to mention the fact that you just rendered a ton of e waste completely useless and no one will have any reason now to recycle it as you cherry picked it.
Not to mention the chemicals you have would make you an ideal candidate to be busted under suspicion of being a meth lab.

Gabe Hanken
- Monticello, Iowa

January 22, 2010

We have alot of Gold PC scrap here in Nigeria because Nigeria as become dump yard for old computers. How do I extract the Gold from the Scrap?

Agunbiade Adeshola
- Lagos - Nigeria

January 22, 2010

I receive a lot of scrap electronics, among the scrap I have 40,000 gold plated phono connectors, I would like to recover the gold - however electrolysis would involve connecting each of the 40,000 connectors to an anode ? this would take a lot of time, I would prefer to submerge in a solution all the connectors at once. is there a step by step process to reclaim the gold ? your help would be much appreciated, thanks, Andy

Andy Roxbur
warehouseman / scrap worker - UK

February 3, 2010

Chemistry of Gold Extraction
from Abe Books


Hello, I live in NJ and have an almost unlimited amount of mother boards (older and newer) available. These boards come in every week and I am tired of selling them for scrap. I am curious what is the best route to take for refining the gold (and other metals) off of these boards in order to get more value for them. I tried the Subzero and managed to just melt some plastic, I am a recent college grad in the field of chemistry so I understand the volatility of the chemicals that may be involved.

Rick Norman
Recycler - Brick, New Jersey

Ed. note: Please search the site for "recycle gold circuit boards" for many more threads on this subject. Good luck

February 25, 2010

for all you people trying to recycle gold by any extraction process,just don't bother you can do it the money you get won't be worth it.many poisonous and toxic chemicals involved .Probably 1 in 50 of you who try it will dissolve your lung or burn yourself badly or even die . most of you will put serious dangerous chemicals into unsafe places that may kill or bun or poison someone else perhaps without you knowing and it years to come.Get a job at a refinery if you fancy becoming Mr.big in the field even if only for a few weeks offer yourself without pay...then give up on the idea. There are many other ways to make money...and many real professionals who have a big lead on you and pay fortunes in insurance health and safety etc...also if someone gets hurt using these chemicals you'll enjoy many years in jail...OK

murray sharp
- london, England

May 20, 2010

I wonder about the sincerity and thought process displayed here. Stop screwing around. Send your stuff to professional recovery businesses. They are all over the USA and world. Or deal with one of the thousands of dealers who advertise daily that they buy scrap. If you have to ask how to process precious and semi-precious on a site like this you have no business attempting to do it yourself. Especially if you start using AR, someone is going to get seriously hurt. In the end, even if you end up with a few ounces of gold/silver/ platinum/ copper, you still have to sell THAT. If you do start a process, I PROMISE YOU, you will not be enough better off to warrant the effort unless you start a full time business processing tons of product a year. It's unrealistic. I've been a scrap dealer for 30 plus years and everyone I know in our business sends this stuff overseas because the US has strong restrictions and the professionals who smelt have invested millions in proper equipment.


July 14, 2010

Seventeen metric tons of gold ores will yield approximately .51 to 85 grams of gold - that's 0.3 to 5 grams of gold per metric ton - depending on the location of the mine. In comparison, a ton of obsolete phones can yield as much as 280 grams of gold, about 140 grams of platinum and palladium, and 140 kilograms of copper. Other materials like glass and plastic can also be recycled from the same ton of discarded phones. Throwing an old cell phone to the landfill is basically throwing money down the drain.

Jeff Shep
- Spanishfork, Utah, USA

January 21, 2011

Here is a step by step of how you can reclaim the gold from cpu's, memory ram, and all other components plated with gold...Hope it helps!

Remove an old processor (or gold plated leads/parts) from a computer that is no longer needed. This is done by unplugging the computer and then opening the case. This may require you to work with the case until it opens or to simply cut the case open. On the motherboard, look for the processor. It should be square with pine sticking out all the way around it. It may be buried underneath a heat sink which you must first remove. Pry out the processor. If you wish to avoid damaging the motherboard, pull the processor straight out without bending the pins.

Get a clean beaker made of brominated glass. These glass beakers are carried by scientific supply companies. Make sure that you wash and dry the beaker completely. Place the beaker into the fume hood and turn on the fume hood to vent the (filtered) fumes into a safe location.

Have the buffer solution on hand and that you are wearing all of your protective gear (goggles, chemically inert gloves, lab coat, etc). Put the processor into the beaker.

Add 50 milliliters of nitric acid to the muriatic acid. Beware of splattering or fumes that may emerge as the acid is added. It may help to guide the stream of acid into the beaker by holding a glass rod across the opening of the mouth of the container where the liquid is being poured into the beaker so that the stream runs down the glass rod. The glass may get hot.

Let the acid rest in the beaker with the computer processor (or gold-plated leads). Watch the beaker until the non-gold parts dissolve into the acid by keeping it locked in the fume hood and checking it over the next couple of days. The process will speed up with gentle stirring using a glass rod. You may occasionally add more nitric acid to help the process.

Decant (pour off) the solution into another beaker when you are confident that gold is all that is left in the original beaker. Take the "waste" solution (containing the dissolved parts) to the proper site so that you can dispose of it.

Use tweezers to remove the gold and put the gold into a bowl of distilled water. Stir to dilute the acid. Dump in your buffer solution to make sure that the acid is diluted in the bowl.

Yahya Majid
- Vancouver, Canada

February 27, 2011

tnx Yahya

it seems we have a new century as like as the old years at past time of searching gold mine at the America mountains.

when the cowboys kill themselves for gold powders ;-) any way just kidding

the reason is simple... THIS IS GOLD

so tnx for your solution

Kiarmin P.
- Shiraz, Iran

February 28, 2011

Guns don't kill people, goldlust kills people :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 8, 2011

I have old circuit board from an IBM 360 mainframe computer and would like to know what the estimated gold yield would be, per pound.

Y Kimmel
- Brooklyn, New York, USA

December 30, 2011

I've read a lot of posts here, and I'd like to avoid the chemical process of Ceramic CPU Gold recovery.
Can I crush these, and melt them down in a forge/crucible to get the Gold, Silver, copper, etc. to separate and burn off the remainder into ash, soot?
Then separate the metals by hand/panning without chemicals?
As a working rancher, I've got an over abundance of free brush to fuel a fire and thought I may be able to use my burn piles as the heat source while I'm doing other chores.
Thanks for the good information and patience for a newbie.

A Morris
- Seminole, Oklahoma, US

March 24, 2012

Hi. I have separated some gold off of computer sticks or memory sticks. I also got some plastic and maybe a little silver, copper and alum mixed with it. I have it all in crucible. If I melted it, would each item separate from the gold and not mix in the gold? Thanks

Bob Wortham
- Henderson, Nevada

March 25, 2012

I have scrapped metals of all kinds for the last 20 years. So, if you have main frame memory boards before the mid 1980s, seventies is the best. These kinds of memory boards along with obsolete military electronics will have the most gold in them. You can break off the (fingers) contact on the end of the boards. You can remove the chips and sell just them. Lots of work. Several years ago I received 7 dollars per pound for older memory cards from servers and old mainframes. Today's equivalent will net you a huge amount LESS than the older stuff -- they just use that much less gold. So, today if you had 600 or 700 hundred lbs of the old stuff you would get thousands. Today, you better have at least a ton or why even bother? Plus the old stuff, once easy to get (often even free) is certainly free no longer if you can even find any of it still available. As in most things, once some thing is worth a lot, it goes into the hands of the big boys, leaving those that could really use it out of the picture. One thing that has not been adulterated too badly is industrial silver contacts for large electrical equipment needing large amounts of power. Just sweat them off the rest of the contacts with an oxy-acetylene torch. Heat up the silver contact and it will drop off before it melts, leaving clean industrial silver behind.

Shawn Sanborn
salvage metals - Lodi, California, USA

March 25, 2012

I would say that your best bet would be to remove all of the memory chips and fingers, (if you have older memory cards that is) like from main frames and older servers. You will know you have these if your memory cards are approx. 12 by twelve inches or larger. If you did that then put them in a large mortar and pedestal and you could hand crush them. What you would have left is a lot of gold plated wire and ceramic plastic bits. Pick out the larger pieces and then try your panning method. Use a poor mans crucible and borax and baking soda for a flux and heat up the crucible slowly and evenly and have some small carbon molds close by. You will find out it will be a lot of work to do all of this. If you remove the memory chips and fingers you will get a good pay check out of doing so. The last time I cashed in was six years ago at near 8 dollars per pound for whole memory cards of what I mentioned. I do not know what the rate is today .. a lot more now I am sure. Good luck.

Shawn Sanborn
scrapper - Lodi, California, USA

April 12, 2012

The Aqua Regia method sucks and dissolves all sorts of other metals as well. 1 lb of cut fingers from boards will get you about a gram of gold, so unless you are scavenging them yourself, the prices on ebay are more expensive than the gold you will recover. However if you do come across some heavily covered boards with the gold exposed, take 2 buckets, one that is smaller than the other. Drill a bunch of holes in the smaller bucket to let the solution through and mix 2 parts Hydrochloric Acid 30% (muriatic acid) with one part 3% peroxide like you find in the store. Put your parts in there and stir them periodically over the next few days to 2 weeks, until all the gold is no longer attached to the boards. Filter and then take the filter with all the gold flakes in it and premix 5 parts hydrochloric acid with 1 part clorox bleach, pour over the gold in the filter until all the gold is dissolved. You will have a deep yellow liquid. Let that sit for 24-36 hours and then add sodium metabisulfate mixed with water (as much as you can get to dissolve in a small cup of water), then slowly pour it into the cloroauric acid (bleach and HCl mixture with the gold in it). It will foam up and overflow if you do it too fast. Once you have added about an 8 oz cup of it then leave it overnight and tomorrow you will see a bunch of brown powder in the bottom of the glass. Drain out and then wash with HCl and then with distilled water, dry and melt...then you have gold. But unless you have access to a lot of old circuit boards this is a waste of money and you will end up paying more for a gram of gold than if you just bought it on ebay.

Art Fontaine
environmental - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA

September 19, 2012

A. Perform the below steps only after you have processed the raw materials ready for Aqua Regia, i.e., reverse electroplating on pins, etc., separating the gold from PCBs using a nitric acid leach etc.

Aqua Regia Process

Mixing Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) with Nitric Acid (HNO3) to make Aqua Regia (AR)

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of (AR) or any other Acid, Place mixing vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage.

Pour 50 ml of (HCL) slowly & consistently into 11 ml of (HNO3) 41 pt/11 pt or 1 pt/4.5 pt ratio:

Dissolving Gold Scrap into Gold Chloride

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of (AR) or any other Acid, Place mixing vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage.

Place scrap Gold into a glass vessel (1), then slowly pour a 3rd of (AR) solution into the vessel containing the scrap gold. Agitate a couple of time then add a little (HCl) until there is no more reaction. Let the solution settle, then pour and filter the solution into another glass vessel (2) whilst being careful not to disturb the sludge at the bottom. Repeat this process until there is no more apparent reaction. In the last repeated process, make sure to agitate the sludge vigorously to reclaim all gold chloride from the sludge. Let it settle, then filter it off including the sludge. Wash the glass vessel (1) into the filter using a distilled water spray and wash the sludge in the filter with a distilled water spray to reclaim all the Gold Chloride.

Nitric Acid (HNO3) Elimination

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of (AR) or any other Acid, Place glass vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage. Do Not Boil the Acids.

Repeated near to boiling and near to dryness with an addition of a little (HCl) at every stage, adding a little Sulphuric Acid near the end. OR Keep adding UREA until no more further reaction/fizzing is apparent.

Precipitating Gold Chloride to solid Gold Grains using Sodium Metabisulfite (Na2S2O5)

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of (AR) or any other Acid, Place mixing vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage.

Slowly pour a little and gradual amount of Sodium Metabisulfite into Gold Chloride solution until there is no more apparent reaction and all the Gold drops to the bottom. (test solution to make sure there is no more Gold Chloride present) After process is complete, filter off the solution containing Gold Grains, using distilled water in a spray bottle wash out all Gold contained within the glass vessel. Keep the left over liquid containing the silver chloride for precipitating it at a later stage.

Removing Impurities from the Gold using Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of a (AR) or any other Acid, Place mixing vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage.

Place Gold in a glass vessel, add a little (HCL) and stir vigorously, then filter off using a wash bottle with distilled water. Repeat this process a couple of times, rinse then dry. The Gold is now ready for Smelting.

Precipitating the Silver using Nitric Acid (HNO3) Sodium Hydroxide ie; Caustic Soda (NaOH) and Karo Syrup

Safety Note: Use fume hood and protective goggles, gloves, apron and mask. Never fill container with more than 1/3rd full of (AR) or any other Acid, Place mixing vessel into a glass/ceramic dish to catch any overflow spillage.

In a Nitric Acid (HNO3) solution, the solution that is left. Keep adding salt until no further reaction is apparent. Then gradually add Sodium Hydroxide until no further reaction is apparent. (Silver Chloride is now Silver Cerment) Gradually add Karo Syrup until no further reaction is apparent. We now have 999+ Pure Silver Sponge Powder ready for smelting after it has been washed.

Or using a copper dip method.

Luke Hayne
- romsey, uk

September 19, 2012

in reply to my previous post

Never attempt to recycle precious metals from e-waste until you have done much sufficient research, the acids involved are extremely corrosive/toxic. All necessary safety precautions should be put in place, and any hazardous waste should be neutralized and disposed of in the appropriate manner. If you are dealing with large quantities of these materials, definitely contact your local authorities such as environmental agencies, councils before you start refining so the proper safety procedures can be put in place. It isn't worth risking damage to yourself, others and even the environment. Always make sure you are in full view of someone when refining with these chemicals, if you breathe in respectable amounts of these fumes, it can knock you unconscious.

Safety Equipment: Working Conditions
Acid Proof Rubber Gloves,
Acid Proof Rubber Apron,
Breathing Mask,
Fume Hood, (home-made or professional)
3 Buckets of Water,
Bicarbonate Soda, (for neutralizing acid)

Safety Equipment: Emergency conditions
Eye Bath,
Clean Water,
Respirator or some kind of Artificial Breathing Apparatus,
Acid Trauma kit,

This is the absolute minimum of safety equipment you should use in order to refine 24kt Pure Gold.

Happy Gold Refining :-)


Luke Hayne
- romsey, uk

November 14, 2012

Q. Hello. I recently found some thin strips of very thin scrap metal. I believe they are scraps from some kind of embossing because they have punched out words on them.They may be from a transformer possibly made in the 1970's. They are from the United Transformer Company.(TRW/UTC. I had them tested and they are plated with 14k gold. I was going to sell them for scrap but the pawn shop was not interested in buying them. They seemed to think that it would be too difficult to extract the gold. I would like to know what kind of metal is under the gold. It is magnetic. If you scrape the gold plating off the metal under it is yellow. It is plated on both sides. The strips are paper thin. I stuck one in some vinegar for about and hour and there was no reaction.It seems pretty dense.Thank you for your time.

Morraine Weston
I found this while scrapping. - Oneonta, New York, USA

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