An urban mine is the stockpile of rare metals in the discarded waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) of a society.[1] Urban mining is the process of recovering these rare metals through mechanical and chemical treatments.[citation needed]

The name was coined in the 1980s by Professor Hideo Nanjyo of the Research Institute of Mineral Dressing and Metallurgy at Tohoku University and the idea has gained significant traction in Japan (and in other parts of Asia) in the 21st century.[2][3]

Research published by the Japanese government's National Institute of Materials Science in 2010 estimated that there were 6,800 tonnes of gold recoverable from used electronic equipment in Japan.[4]


  1. ^ Kuroda & Ueda 2011, p. 197.
  2. ^ Yu et al. 2011, pp. 165–166.
  3. ^ Nakamura 2016, p. 39.
  4. ^ Yu et al. 2011, p. 166.


  • Kuroda, Kouichi; Ueda, Mitsuyoshi (2011). "Cell surface design for selective recovery of rare metal ions". In Ike, Michihiko; Yamashita, Mitsuo; Soda, Satoshi (eds.). Handbook of Metal Biotechnology: Applications for Environmental Conservation and Sustainability. CRC Press. ISBN 9789814267991.
  • Yu, Jeongsoo; Che, Jia; Omura, Michiaki; Serrona, Kevin Roy B. (2011). "Emerging issues on Urban Mining in Automobile Recycling". In Kumar, Sunil (ed.). Integrated Waste Management. Vol. 2. InTech. ISBN 9789533074474.
  • Nakamura, Takashi (2016). "How to recover minor rare metals from e-scrap". In Neelameggham, Neale; Alam, Shafiq; Oosterhof, Harald; Jha, Animesh; Dreisinger, David; Wang, Shijie (eds.). Rare Metal Technology 2015. Minerals, Metals & Materials. Springer. ISBN 9783319481883.

Further reading