When someone is making a case for retaining fossil fuels over embracing the lithium ion batteries that go into electric vehicles like that of Tesla, they usually spew some nonsense about mining costs to make the “green” fuel alternative look more expensive and unrealistic. Chances are, that person has also neglected to account for some of the labor costs associated with gasoline and ethanol production.

Regardless, precious metals like gold, silver, copper, and lithium amongst others are getting more precious as they are standard and necessary components in our smartphones and tablets. That said, the traditional methods for obtaining these precious metals could use a good overhaul. Not only does it require a huge amount of energy and money, but it’s also dangerous and puts human lives at risk.

Enter urban miners. They would be the tenacious and often curmudgeonly fellows displaced in your suburb who are harvesting gold, silver, and copper from discarded computers, tablets, phones and televisions known as e-waste instead of letting them sit in a landfill. The practice is growing in popularity as hipsters and other activists acknowledge its efficiency.

According to a recent article by Clean Techies on the Environmental News Network, “E-waste often contains more rare metals than mined ores. Studies show e-waste has 10 to 50 times the copper content than copper ore, and a phone contains 5 to 10 times the gold content than gold ore.”

So, digging for our metals and suffering through the questionable process may no longer be necessary if we can envision a brave new world of precious metal harvesters on every block in every neighborhood in affluent America.

Source: http://www.enn.com/environmental_policy/article/47540

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