Rare metals are used worldwide, they are one of the most important substances found in objects that we use in our daily life. Many industrialized objects are made out of rare elements; computers, phones, steam iron and many other things like the poles we use for building, chains, handcuffs… However, like any other natural substance, we will soon run out of metal if it is not recycled. Rare metals are mostly used in industries all around the world. They are getting used up too quickly leading the world to a shortage of metals. These rare metals are used in many devices and when devices get ruined they get thrown out and these rare metals become useless. Therefore if we recycle devices the rare substances in it will be used over and over again until they reach their limit. Rare metals are titled as that since there are very hard to extracted and find.
Shortage of metal has been a condition for a while since if rare metals cannot be retrieved anymore, it is likely to threaten high-tech innovations and will interfere in the development of our understanding of medicines, viruses and will slow our discoveries as we develop. Phones have been a big condition since almost every person on earth has a phone. Around 350,000 get disposed each day and 40 million electronic devices get thrown away per year, estimated to be like throwing 800 laptops per second a year. When the electronic device gets disposed, the rare metals in the phone cannot be used anymore. For example, the silver/grey metal, tantalum is a vital metal to help develop phones. They help make them smaller in size so that it could be easier to carry around. Phones are made up of 40% metals such as; predominantly copper, gold, platinum, silver, and tungsten. 40% plastic and 20% ceramics. For example, 95% of copper, comes from China. However it has been an issue lately, miners have been struggling to find copper and it is estimated that it needs around 20 years to reach its number of demands by reasons of not having many land sites to work on and the governments of China not allowing miners to dig in some places.
As the demand of rare earth metals increased with the development of our technology, we slowly started running out of rare metals facing REE (Rare Earth Elements) shortage, therefore, recycling of metals became a must. People have been applying effort to recycling rare metals however it’s quite hard since when recycling of metals is more costly than the metals itself. There are many disadvantages like many of the rare metals that get recycled are impure and sorting the metals from each other costs a lot of time and money. However, there are many advantages. Recycling metal helps reuse the raw rare metals called ores even though they are not renewable. This also helps the environment by reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. Concluding that although recycling rare metals can be costly and takes time, recycling metal is better for the environment and will help us go forward in our discoveries of new technology and develop in time without running out of any rare resources.
The rare metals used in devices are very hard to extract and are very hard to sustain. Cu29 (Copper) is a very vital element in devices, it is soft, malleable and ductile with a hight thermal and is a very good electricity conductor. It is therefore mostly used as a conductor of heat and electricity. Copper is vital in a phone since it is used as twisted wiring for local networks and internet lines, without copper in phones you wouldn’t be able to call or have wifi. Au79 (Gold) is one of the substances used in phones, it is a pure form/alloy. It is a soft metal with a very high melting point and doesn’t react chemically. It is used mostly for jewelries and designs however gold helps phones, technicians have learned that alloying gold with other metals makes the metals more durable. Platinum, Pt78 is a dense, malleable, highly unreactive and ductile element with a very high melting point. It is the reason you have such a storage capacity in a small phone. Silver, Ag 47 is a soft,white lustrous transition metal and has the highest electricity conductor and thermal conductor and is a very good reflective and is used to make mirrors. It also resists corrosion and oxidation. Silver in phones is used for switches whether to turn your phone on or off. Lastly tungsten (W74) which has then highest melting point of all elements ever discovered. It is a very hard material and can be cut using a hard-steel hacksaw. It is used as circuit boards because when the phone heats tungsten has a high melting point therefore it can stand heats.