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Separate gold from electronic scrap?

My employer routinely destroys old electronic equipment. Some of the
equipment has gold-plated connectors.

I know each metal strip on the connector has just a teeny amount of
gold plating, but there’s a lot of electronic gear.

A little bit of decorative gold accents will go a long way,
particularly compared to paying $1600 an ounce.

I can break off the connectors from the rest of the stuff and crush
those bits fairly easily, so I don’t have to deal with the bulk of
the circuit board, just the bit between the gold plated strips.

Anyone have any ideas on an easy way to separate the gold plating
from the rest of the stuff? Safely and affordably?

I’ve got my copies of Theophilus and Agricola, who both talk about
separating gold from other substances, but those worthy medieval
scholars glossed over the circuit board bits. J

Thanks in advance!

David, it should be easy to use needle nose pliers and pull the
connectors off the board. Under the gold usually is a layer of
copper. On Rhodium plating is sometimes gold, nickle and copper. The
connectors are laminated onto the epoxy board and when I used to
make circuit boards, it was really easy to pull the connectors off.


I was browsing around these (following) forums and there was quite a
bit regarding salvaging gold from electronic scrap. If Caustic
chemicals don’t scare you too badly, and you have access to enough
scrap, you may be interested. Check out:

Hello David,

the Orchid Archive has a* great* succinct article by Nanz Aalund on
"How to" do exactly what you want to do…Two things: you need A LOT
of plated material to make the process worth the investiture of
time, chemicals in the environment and in your space and what you
will recover- even over a year of processing perhaps 2 tonnes of
reclaimed plated connectors, etc.( the amount of gold actually on
tech parts) will not amount to 100 dwts…so if a lot of work for not
much gold interests you have at it! Good luck ! Seriously I am
conceptualising using 2000 lbs of metal at a go with an average of >
1 micron of gold film deposited on it per piece( standard commercial
plating can be calculated by looking at the manufacturer’s specs for
it’s wholesale sales descriptions whatever the brand,manuf., or parts
you have access to.I highly reccommend your investigating this before
setting up the first tank to process anything or buying the amount of
chemical you’ll need to submerge even 50 lbs. of connectors in a
bath) and using the method Nanz describes ( very effective if you
haven’t access to commercial reclaimation equipment) the amount you
will glean is very trivial with even 50 lb. lots of plated
connectors… Not to be discouraging, but if time isn’t an object
and you have years to invest in the project that is the only way it
would be worthwhile…For instance imagine you have a book of pure
24kt gold leaf and you take the book and dissolve the paper backing
the gold- the amount you can reclaim is worth maybe 50 bucks given
todays market ( $1613.00 USD per troy oz. or 20 dwts).A good
analogy/experiment is to take a few leaves and burn off the paper on
a charcoal or siliquar block- the flakes that will be left ( if they
don’t blow away) equal what you’d have left after processing approx.
20 lbs. of plated connectors!!!..again, good luck!..rer

i might be wrong but your time will be wasted trying to reclaim the
gold plate. from what i understand the gold components in circuit
boards you want to reclaim are the solid gold or silver bits not the
x microns of gold plating.

in context, my 2 gram rhodium solution has lasted me 3 years, has
probably plated over 1000 rings and still shows no sign of running
out. therefore if i was to reclaim the plate from 1000 rings i would
get less than 2 grams in return for allot of hard work.