How valuable is gold? So valuable that the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom plans to extract small quantities of gold on a mass scale from cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices for recycling.
The Royal Mint has been testing new technology from Canadian start-up company Excir that has successfully produced recycled gold with a purity of 999.9. Now the Mint is contracting with Excir to use the company’s innovative chemical solutions that can extract more than 99 percent of gold from electronic circuit boards within seconds. Gold is widely used in electronics because it has high electrical conductivity, is malleable, and is resistant to tarnishing.
The Royal Mint will build a dedicated metals recovery facility at its site in South Wales, which will be able to safely extract gold, as well as other precious metals, from electronic equipment.
Currently, less than 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled, according to the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations, which says billions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver, copper, and palladium is unnecessarily discarded rather than being recovered, treated, and reused.
“It provides us the opportunity to make a genuine impact on one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges while helping to secure our future as a leader in high quality, sustainable precious metals,” said Anne Jessopp, Chief Executive of the Royal Mint.
The Royal Mint says it is the largest and most technologically advanced minting facility in the world, creating more than 3.3 billion coins and blanks each year for more than 30 countries.