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Japanese recycling aid hopes to yield gold

Reports suggest that the Japanese environment ministry is set to provide expertise on recycling to south-east Asian countries, perhaps enabling them to extract gold from mobile phones.

Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia are the countries which the Japanese scheme will seek to help in the correct disposal of home electronics equipment without the loss of recyclable components containing precious metals.

"These countries lack recycling techniques and have yet to develop systems to collect used equipment from households and corporations," a Japanese government official said, according to the Japan Times.

As well as disposing safely of toxic substances, the focus on precious metals will look to employ advanced techniques practiced by Japanese Smelting and other firms to extract potentially valuable materials.

World Gold Council figures for 2001-2005 show that recycled gold constituted 23 per cent of gold being sold worldwide over the period, much of it being extracted from jewelery.

The figure is considerably less than the amount supplied by gold mining, but still greater than the amount of gold yielded by the sales of central bank reserves (only 15 per cent).


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