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Rare metals become a national strategic resource, and Japan locks in waste electronic products
Update Time : 2022-04-19 View : 1160

As people become more and more dependent on electronic products, ensuring electronic raw materials has become one of the national strategies. However, due to a coronavirus, the mass production of mines around the world has been reduced, threatening the tightening of precious metal supply. Now Japan has begun to strengthen its plan to extract gold from waste, and even spread fishing nets to overseas markets to fight for waste electronic products.
The Nikkei News reported that waste electronic products contain not only a large amount of gold and silver, but also industrial metals such as lithium, which is crucial to the manufacture of electric vehicles. In terms of gold alone, Japan's reserves are estimated to be about 6800 tons, surpassing South Africa's underground reserves.
These waste electronic products can extract non-ferrous metals, precious metals and rare metals. Nonferrous metals are relatively ferrous metals. Commonly used nonferrous metals include copper, aluminum, lead, zinc, nickel, tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium. Rare metals refer to metals with less content or scattered distribution in nature, including lithium, beryllium, niobium, tantalum, rare earth, germanium, gallium, indium, etc. Precious metals are mainly gold, silver and platinum group metals.
Compared with the high content of precious metals in the circuit board, the profit of recovering rare metals is low. The bottleneck includes the cost of classification, disassembly and extraction, and the process involves a lot of manual work. Japan's metal reserve, which is crucial to the production of electric vehicles and high-tech products, is regarded as a national strategy. The National Institute of advanced industrial science and technology is developing an automatic chemical plant that can disassemble electronic products, retrieve and classify specific metals. The new process will increase the output of manual labor by more than 10 times. It is planned to launch a pilot plant before fiscal year 2021.
The EU has also been developing the concept of sustainable recycling for the past four years. Led by Fraunhofer ILT, a research institution in Aachen, Germany, and eight partners from three countries, the strategic goal is to reduce the EU's dependence on natural resources, reduce the import demand for expensive raw materials, and demonstrate new technologies of reverse production.
The technologies used in the new disassembly plant include laser technology, robotics, vision system and information technology, in which the laser can determine the composition of each part and disassemble, weld or cut parts from the plate in a fast and non-contact manner. Through reverse production technology, the country's dependence on raw materials in other regions can be reduced.
In addition to discarded electronic products, second-hand lithium-ion batteries, especially those used in electric vehicles, are another potential wealth of urban mining. At the end of its service life, lithium-ion car batteries can still be used for other purposes, such as household power storage. Multiple batteries can be connected to build a storage system of renewable energy facilities.
Itochu of Japan cooperates with prand and BYD, Chinese pure electric vehicle battery recycling enterprises, and Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, also invests in byton, a Chinese electric vehicle company, to carry out lithium battery reuse business. The original resources will be exhausted one day. In the face of the surge in high-tech demand in the future, waste electronic products and lithium batteries will become important strategic resources in the future.





欧盟过去四年也一直在开发可持续的回收概念。牵头的是位于德国亚琛的研究机构弗劳恩霍夫激光技术研究所(Fraunhofer ILT),以及来自三个国家的八个合作伙伴参与,战略目标是减少欧盟对自然资源的依赖,减少对昂贵原材料的进口需求,并演示逆向生产的新技术。




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