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Resources 2014, 3(1), 152-179; doi:10.3390/resources3010152

Metal Extraction Processes for Electronic Waste and Existing Industrial Routes: A Review and Australian Perspective

Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia
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Received: 11 December 2013 / Revised: 24 January 2014 / Accepted: 5 February 2014 / Published: 19 February 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wealth from Waste: Urban Metal Resources and Industrial Ecology)
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Abstract

The useful life of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has been shortened as a consequence of the advancement in technology and change in consumer patterns. This has resulted in the generation of large quantities of electronic waste (e-waste) that needs to be managed. The handling of e-waste including combustion in incinerators, disposing in landfill or exporting overseas is no longer permitted due to environmental pollution and global legislations. Additionally, the presence of precious metals (PMs) makes e-waste recycling attractive economically. In this paper, current metallurgical processes for the extraction of metals from e-waste, including existing industrial routes, are reviewed. In the first part of this paper, the definition, composition and classifications of e-wastes are described. In the second part, separation of metals from e-waste using mechanical processing, hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical routes are critically analyzed. Pyrometallurgical routes are comparatively economical and eco-efficient if the hazardous emissions are controlled. Currently, pyrometallurgical routes are used initially for the segregation and upgrading of PMs (gold and silver) into base metals (BMs) (copper, lead and nickel) and followed by hydrometallurgical and electrometallurgical processing for the recovery of pure base and PMs. For the recycling of e-waste in Australia, challenges such as collection, transportation, liberation of metal fractions, and installation of integrated smelting and refining facilities are identified.
Keywords: electronic waste (e-waste); recycling; pyrometallurgy; printed circuit boards (PCBs); precious metals (PMs) extractions; copper electronic waste (e-waste); recycling; pyrometallurgy; printed circuit boards (PCBs); precious metals (PMs) extractions; copper
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Khaliq, A.; Rhamdhani, M.A.; Brooks, G.; Masood, S. Metal Extraction Processes for Electronic Waste and Existing Industrial Routes: A Review and Australian Perspective. Resources 2014, 3, 152-179.

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