About recycled gold vs gold from mines

About recycled gold vs gold from mines


Gold is a market of approximatively 4500 tons per year. 50% of this gold is for the jewelry market. The rest is for investments or industrial purpose.


The gold sold on this market is coming either from the mines (2/3 of the supply on average) or from existing gold which is recycled (1/3 of the supply).


Gold from the mines is first refined locally to concentrate the purity between 20% and 80%, gold bars are then sent to refineries around the world to achieve 95%-99% purity. Once this new pure gold has been casted under the form of bullions, it is sold on international markets to states, banks, jewellers and industrial companies. At this stage, in 99% of the time, the origin and traceability is lost.


On the other side, recycled gold is made of existing gold that has already been mined. It's already there. The main origin of gold meant to be recycled is old jewellery in different purities that people around the world sell in exchange of cash. Specific networks collect this jewelry and refine it to achieve again the market purity of 95%-99%, and start a new life for this gold that will be used to produce new jewellery, electronics or other products.


To a smaller extent, recycled gold is also made of industrial waste from different industries like electronics, medicals,...These waste with tiny amount of gold are collected and transformed by highly specialized companies to refine the gold to high purity. For instance, 1 tonne of old mobile phones yields for about 300g of gold.


Recycled gold has a lower carbon footprint than gold from the mines, it depends on the technology used to recycle but the CO2 emissions to produce 1kg of gold are usually 2x to 2000x smaller with recycling compare to mining.


All in all, it is estimated that to use recycled gold is about 300 times better for the environment than primary production from mines. This is easily understandable when you know that on average, to produce 1kg of gold from a mine, it requires 1500 tons of ore to be extracted and crushed with heavy equipments.


But that's not all ! Besides CO2, mining requires a huge quantity of water. This water is used to drain the ore to capture the tiny particles of gold. Then this water is filtered through toxic cyanide that most of the mines use to precipitate and concentrate the particles of gold. This water consumption can be a real problem for local population living close to the mines, and sometimes the cyanide can progressively contaminate fresh source of water, leading to dramatic contamination.


Although big industrial mines have most of the time appropriate safety protection to contain the cyanide, this is unfortunately not true for illegal mines that produce up to 20% of the gold every year. Cyanide is directly rejected in rivers or in the fields, spreading toxic elements further.


That's why many NGOs, mining organizations or states try to establish responsible mining practices in order to minimize environmental or social impacts.


 in the end, there are big arguments to promote recycled gold vs mining.


We at Zeva have decided to use and promote recycled gold whenever it's possible because we believe it is always better to use something existing rather than to look for something new. In the same way we prefer to use recycled paper, green energy whenever possible, etc... We also repair anything, from the coffee machine to our mobile phones. Instead of buying something new, we try first to refurbish everything.


It's a state of mind and we try to stick to this principle in everything we do.