Thailand to extract high-value metals from recycled e-waste to serve high-tech industries

September 25, 2020

Thailand's Ministry of Industry on Monday unveiled plans in developing a new recycling technology that enables the extraction of rare-earth metals from recycled industrial and household waste to serve high-tech industries.

"Our focus is to tap into the industrial waste to extract high-value metals, ranging from rare-earth elements to gold, silver and platinum," said Teerawut Tunnukij, senior metallurgical engineer at the ministry's Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM).

"We have already created a technology to recycle neodymium from electronic waste, he said.

Neodymium is a key component in high-power magnets needed for electronic equipment and the engines of electric vehicles.

The DPIM also plans to extract nano copper oxide from electronic waste, such as copper from plants that produce electricity transmission cables.

Nano copper oxide is a key material for coating medical equipment to make it bacteria-resistant.

Teerawut also said that his department is doing research and development on special-grade titanium alloys used in robotic technology.

The DPIM has so far developed 55 prototype recycling technologies and is working on another six to eight prototypes per year, he said.

The new recycling technology is transferred to around 300 companies every year.

According to DPIM, Thailand generates 500,000 tons of electronic waste per year, of which 80,000 tons are derived from industrial factories.

Teerawut said that the 500,000 tons of e-waste contains recyclable metal worthy of an estimated 30 billion baht (959 million U.S. dollars).