It’s like the winning lottery ticket that got lost. We like to talk about gold as a permanent asset, like it never goes away. We usually think gold is mined out of the ground (or sifted from a river or ocean), then made into bars, coins, or jewelry, then stays that way forever. At the very least, jewelry is sold to a pawn shop, melted down, and used to make more jewelry. Today’s gold news reminds us that the real world isn’t so simple.
Gold is used in electronics whenever a circuit designer needs a completely non-corrosive conductor, usually in fine wires or protective casings for electronic parts. And while many cities and states require recycling of electronics, a lot of gold still gets simply thrown out with the trash.
A staggering 15 million ounces worldwide, according to the latest estimate. Or, if you prefer thinking in money, $22 billion worth of gold went into trash dumps in 2017. Almost makes one wonder why they don’t mine trash dumps.