[time-nuts] RoHS Solder

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Fri Sep 25 00:34:15 UTC 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On Behalf Of SAIDJACK at aol.com
> Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:38 PM
> To: time-nuts at febo.com
> Subject: Re: [time-nuts] RoHS Solder
> That's kind of part of the scam in my opinion, we now create much more
> electronic trash in the name of removing miniscule amounts of environmentally
> unsafe lead from products..
> Forget about running your new Agilent counter for 25+ years like we used to
>  be able to do...
> Another part of the scam is that only two companies (one a University if I
> remember correctly, one a Japanese company) hold the patents to the  Silver
> based solder that everyone now needs to use... And according to the USGS
> we are quickly running out of mineable Silver..

I find that hard to believe.. the use of silver in photography is rapidly dropping.. I think it used to be about a third of the total market, and now it's something like 10%. 

A bit of googling shows that there are something like 3300 million ounces not yet mined, but found. 

A chart shows existing mines producing around 200 million oz/yr, so that's 15-16 years production.. not too far into the future, I admit. 
The same chart showed a demand of about 800 million oz/yr (there's significant recycling of silver).

But, anyway, of that 200 million oz, how much is going into lead-free solder.  EPA says about 180 million pounds/yr of tin-lead solder. I think the usual formulations are 2% silver, so 3.6 million pounds/yr of silver (14.6 troy oz/lb, so 53 million oz/yr... a significant chunk, but only about 6-7% of the total world usage.. )

And those unmined reserves are based on whatever silver prices are now.. ($15-17/oz, I think)  If the demand increased significantly, it might spur exploration OR, more likely, the usage of lower grade ores. Unfortunately, silver is a mineral that concentrates (unlike, say, iron), so it's not like dropping the grade by a factor of 2 leads to an increased abundance of a similar factor.  However, even if the silver price doubles, it's a small part of the cost of a piece of electronics... sure, silicon is made from sand which is pretty common, but it's very expensive processing that sand to make functional dice and to put them in packages.

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