The year 2013 hasn’t been good for the price of the yellow metal, with gold price set to witness its worst plunge in 30 years by the time this year gets over in a couple of days. Bullion which started this year at around the $1,700 per ounce levels will do well if it manages to remain above $1,200/oz on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.
Even that level will mean that gold will be down about 28 per cent from since the beginning of the year. Spot gold price recovered from a low of $1,187 per ounce on Thursday, December 19, to end last week at $1,205/oz, reflecting the investor community’s faith in the yellow metal.
The metal wasn’t doing very well even before December 18, 2013, when, according to Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, “the last major roll of the financial dice in 2013 was carried out by the US Federal Reserve.”
On that day, the US Fed “sprang a semi-surprise on the market deciding to begin tapering its asset purchase program. Although the market had spent the past six months getting ready for this announcement, precious metals took it badly and ended up being the worst performing sector on the week,” Hansen noted in his weekly commodities report.
According to him, “a potential break [below the current levels] will put the next level at $1,155/oz. into focus”. The forthcoming New Year, at least initially, doesn’t bode too well for the metal, he said.
“The early stages of the New Year will undoubtedly become another challenging time for precious metals as positive fundamental price drivers are hard to come by. Investment holdings in exchange traded products backed by gold have seen increased reductions during December and whether this is a sign of investors gearing up to another year of losses or just some long liquidation in order to book losses and meet 2014 with fresh eyes remains to be seen,” he wrote.
Interestingly, analysts still remain split on the direction of gold price in 2014, with guestimates ranging between $900/oz and $1,500/oz. “I believe 2014 will be a year of consolidation following a dramatic slump at the end of a 12-year bull market. We could see some additional weakness during the first quarter as the taper theme and some potential dollar strength erode support but later in the year, gold could well recover as some of the negative drivers fade and finish up on the year,” said Hansen.
Despite its price demolition this year, we can be sure that no one will mind getting a bit of free gold, now would you? Yes, there’s gold to be mined in your old gadgets, and we can tell you how to do it.
It’s no secret that most electronic devices contain at least a small amount of pure gold – that, in fact, has been one of the primary reasons why gold has managed to remain above a threshold as more devices (think smartphones, tablets, notebooks, TV sets, etc.) mean that industrial demand for gold will remain good.
With more and more people owning at least one smartphone, one tablet and one laptop PC, we all own a bit of gold without actively investing in it. And as we occasionally move on to the next frontier in our devices, we tend to just discard the old ones. Precious mistake?
Let’s look at how five ways we can extract gold from our old gadgets.
#1 Burn It
This is the most harmful (yes, harmful and therefore not advised) way of extracting gold from gadgets. You burn the device down using an extractor, which will isolate gold from the other metals in the gadget. But burning plastic and other materials will emit fumes, some of them will be toxic. It’s bad for you, and the environment. Avoid this route.
#2 Make a soup
Well, not really a soup, but you could break the device (with a hammer, for instance), and after physically removing plastic etc., mix the rest with a cornstarch solution, then isolate or distill gold ions. What’s best is that this, according to Popular Science magazine, is one of the greenest ways to extract gold from anything.
#3 Melt it
This is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to recover gold from e-waste. The aqua regia solution can be prepared by mixing one part of nitric acid and three parts of HCL (hydrochloric acid). Remember, though, that these acids are very corrosive and produce toxic fumes. So be careful while mixing them and avoid splashes as they can cause burns. Check out the entire process here. In any case, this is a messy process and you must be prepared to extensively tidy up behind you.
#4 Electroplate it, in reverse
This is the most effective way to reclaim gold from scrap components is to use a process referred to as reverse electroplating, or so says eHow. It involves ionisation and is the reversal of the process by which gold is fixed to the devices. The gold is attached to the siphon, and this is done by adding a battery. Later the gold is extracted by making it attracted to another metallic object.
Bioleaching is the extraction of metals from their ores through the use of living organisms. This is much cleaner than the traditional heap leaching using cyanide, which was used before the make-a-soup method was stumbled upon. Bioleaching is one of several applications within biohydrometallurgy and several methods are used to recover copper, zinc, lead, arsenic, antimony, nickel, molybdenum, gold, silver, and cobalt.
Whatever method you choose to extract gold from your gadgets, be extremely careful, and make sure you know what you’re doing before actually starting off. One final tip – older electronics, like an old 386 or 486 computer, contain more gold than modern computers.