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48 pounds of gold 'mined' from discarded cell phones in Japan

TOKYO — Some 48 pounds of gold was recovered from discarded cell phones that had been collected in a campaign by the Japanese government, according to Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

About 567,000 cell phones were collected during the campaign, which started in November in an effort to recycle precious and rare metals used in mobile phones.

In addition to the gold, 174 pounds of silver, 12,474 pounds of copper and 4 1/2 pounds of palladium were recovered, the ministry said.

Cell phones are often referred to as "urban mines" because such precious and rare metals are used in the devices.

The retrieved metals will be sold to refiners for recycling, the ministry said.

It is believed that about 200 million used cell phones are left uncollected at homes and elsewhere in Japan. Many people are believed to keep their old cell phones to use as telephone directories and cameras.

About 1,800 electronics retail stores and supermarkets across Japan took part in the campaign, which ended at the end of February.

The campaign gave away gift vouchers worth $2.6 million to 158,800 people by lottery. When people turned in mobile phones they no longer use to participating stores, they were given application tickets for the lottery.

48 pounds of gold 'mined' from discarded cell phones in Japan 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 8:23pm]
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