Journal of hazardous materials

Thiosulfate leaching of gold from waste mobile phones.

PMID 20149533


The present communication deals with the leaching of gold from the printed circuit boards (PCBs) of waste mobile phones using an effective and less hazardous system, i.e., a copper-ammonia-thiosulfate solution, as an alternative to the conventional and toxic cyanide leaching of gold. The influence of thiosulfate, ammonia and copper sulfate concentrations on the leaching of gold from PCBs of waste mobile phones was investigated. Gold extraction was found to be enhanced with solutions containing 15-20 mM cupric, 0.1-0.14 M thiosulfate, and 0.2-0.3 M ammonia. Similar trends were obtained for the leaching of gold from two different types of scraps and PCBs of waste mobile phones. From the scrap samples, 98% of the gold was leached out using a solution containing 20 mM copper, 0.12 M thiosulfate and 0.2 M ammonia. Similarly, the leaching of gold from the PCBs samples was also found to be good, but it was lower than that of scrap samples in similar experimental conditions. In this case, only 90% of the gold was leached, even with a contact time of 10h. The obtained data will be useful for the development of processes for the recycling of gold from waste mobile phones.

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Ammonium thiosulfate, 98%