Golden touch: Royal Mint to recycle precious metals from electronics waste

Experts believe that as much as 7% of the world’s gold may be contained within the circuit boards of e-waste.

Holly Williams
Wednesday 20 October 2021 00:01
The Royal Mint is set to bring pioneering technology to the UK that will allow it to recycle discarded mobile phones and laptops to recover gold, silver and precious metals (Royal Mint/PA)
The Royal Mint is set to bring pioneering technology to the UK that will allow it to recycle discarded mobile phones and laptops to recover gold, silver and precious metals (Royal Mint/PA)

The Royal Mint is set to bring pioneering technology to the UK that will allow it to recycle discarded mobile phones and laptops to recover gold, silver and precious metals.

The Government-owned coinmaker has signed a deal with Canadian start-up Excir to use the world’s first sustainable precious metal technology.

The Royal Mint aims to use the technology, based on chemistry, at its site in South Wales to retrieve precious metals from e-waste, which is contained within the circuit boards of discarded electronics such as phones and laptops.

It said trials of the technology at The Royal Mint has already produced gold with a purity of 999.9, and has the potential to also recover palladium, silver and copper.

The chemistry selectively targets and extracts precious metals from circuit boards in seconds, offering a sustainable solution to the more than 50 million tonnes of e-waste produced worldwide each year.

Less than 20% of e-waste is currently recycled worldwide, with precious metals valued at an estimated 57 billion US dollars (£41 billion) largely discarded.

Mountains of e-waste is sent to landfill or is sent abroad to be processed at high temperatures in smelters.

Experts believe that as much as 7% of the world’s gold may be contained in e-waste, with 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore.

Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint, said: “This partnership represents a significant milestone for The Royal Mint as we reinvent for the future as the home of precious metals in the UK.

“The potential of this technology is huge, reducing the impact of electronic waste, preserving precious commodities, and forging new skills which help drive a circular economy.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in