Printed circuit boards (PCBs) can be found in almost every single piece of electronic equipment today. Your phone, laptop, TV, digital watch, electric toothbrush, headphones (you get the picture), all contain PCBs. With electronics playing such a vital role in our daily lives, PCBs are everywhere! And when electronics are discarded or replaced, PCBs become a rich resource for urban mining and metal recovery

Through our metal recovery process, the metals that are soldered onto these boards can be recovered efficiently and safely. Our process gives electronic waste recyclers an added stream of revenue and lessens the need to mine virgin metals. Get in touch with Sepro Urban Mining to learn more about metal recovery from electronic sources. 

How Are PCBs Made?

PCBs connect electrical components with electrical tracks. The conductive parts of a circuit board are etched or placed onto a fibreglass laminate and soldered into place. PCBs are typically produced by fully automatic assembly lines, but can also be made by hand by highly skilled workers. 

PCBs are densely packed with batteries, switches, relays, capacitors, and much more. The parts are connected with copper tracks and wires. 

What Are the Most Common Metals Found on PCBs?

The following metals are found on PCBs:

  • Copper
  • Tin
  • Lead
  • Iron
  • Nickel
  • Chromium
  • Molybdenum
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Palladium

The components embedded onto PCBs, like batteries, can contain a number of both valuable and toxic metals, including cadmium, lithium, and mercury. During metal recovery, it’s vital to handle these elements safely to prevent any environmental or health and safety problems. 

Difficulties with Safe Metal Recovery

The value of precious metals in PCBs cannot be understated. One tonne of electronic scrap from PCBs contain more recoverable gold than 17 tonnes of gold ore. This makes PCBs one of the most valuable resources in the urban mining industry. 

However, PCBs pose challenges to recycling centres. If handled incorrectly, they present significant risks to human health and the environment. Toxic elements like lead and mercury need to be handled properly and fibreglass must be safely disposed of. PCBs are also densely packed, making effective and efficient metal recovery difficult. 

To combat these difficulties, Sepro Urban Mining has worked closely with electronic recycling centres to develop an effective and safe metal recovery process. Our method generates waste streams that can be safely disposed of, which is good for both people and the environment. To learn more about urban mining and our metal recovery processes, get in touch with us today!