A Chinese couple attempted to make gold out of used mobile phones but were arrested by police for their illegal method.
The offenders rented a recycling shop in Shanghai back in April, where they hoped to refine gold using a crude and unsanitary process.
The couple began by digging a hole, then dumping the hazardous chemicals in it. Chinese authorities found buckets filled with toxic chemicals inside the workshop. More traces of the chemicals were also found in a nearby creek.
Authorities have since arrested the couple for illegally dumping the chemicals and polluting the environment in the process. It’s reported that the couple was making about 20,000 yuan ($3,000) from their illegal operation, according to Shanghaiist.
Experts say that about a gold ring can be made from about 100 cellphones.
To make matters worse, the couple didn’t use the proper equipment and even failed to procure the necessary license from authorities before carrying out their operation.
While it’s possible to extract tons of gold from used mobile phones, the process usually involves the use of toxic, environmentally hazardous chemicals to dissolve metallic parts of the devices.
Meanwhile, scientists have found a better and more efficient way to extract gold from mobile phones without the use of chemicals such as mercury or cyanide.
According to MailOnline, the new gold extraction method only involves the use of mild acid and oily liquid.
The mild acid is then used to dissolve the components of the mobile phone, while the oily liquid contains a certain chemical compound that is capable of extracting the gold.
University of Edinburgh researchers revealed that the new method isn’t just more environmentally-friendly, it also extracts more gold compared to the previous refining process.