Royal Mint announces new recycling plant to extract gold from e-waste
Image credit: Royal Mint
An electronics recycling plant designed to extract gold from the UK’s electronic waste is to be built in South Wales under new plans announced by the Royal Mint.
The facility will help address a growing environmental issue as well as create a new source of high-quality precious metals for the business.
A study from 2020 found that Britons produce the second largest amount of e-waste per person in Europe after Norwegians.
The Royal Mint’s new facility will use a new chemical process created by Canadian firm Excir to recover gold within the circuit boards of laptops and mobile phones. It is capable of recovering over 99 per cent of the precious metals contained within electronic waste – selectively targeting the metal in seconds.
Construction of the plant begins this month, and it will be located within The Royal Mint’s highly secure site to provide a stream of gold directly into the business.
When fully operational in 2023, the site is expected to process up to 90 tonnes of UK-sourced circuit boards per week – generating hundreds of kilograms of gold per year. In addition, the new business venture will support around 40 jobs.
Each year, more than 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced globally, with less than 20 per cent currently being recycled. If nothing is done, this is set to reach 74 million tonnes by 2030.
Instead of electronic waste leaving UK shores to be processed at high temperatures in smelters, the new facility will see precious metals recovered at room temperature. It will be also able to process the entire circuit board in addition to gold recovery.
Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint, said: “We are transforming our business for the future - expanding into areas which complement our expertise in precious metals, champion sustainability and support employment.
“Our investment in a new plant will see The Royal Mint become a leader in sustainably sourced precious metals and provide the UK with a much-needed domestic solution to the growing problem of electronic waste.”
Sean Millard, chief growth officer at The Royal Mint said: “Working with our partners Excir, we have introduced world-first technology to the UK capable of recovering precious metals from electronic waste in seconds. This approach is revolutionary and offers huge potential to reuse our planet’s precious resources, reduce the environmental footprint of electronic waste and create new jobs.
“We estimate that 99 per cent of the UK’s circuit boards are currently shipped overseas to be processed at high temperatures in smelters. As the volume of electronic waste increases each year, this problem is only set to become bigger. When fully operational our plant will be the first of its kind in the world – processing tonnes of electronic waste each week, and providing a new source of high-quality gold direct to The Royal Mint.”
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