Gold and precious metals must be mined from old phones and laptops by the British coin maker.
The Royal Mint plans to introduce a unique technology in the UK to recycle gold from electronic waste.
According to estimates, less than a fifth of e-waste ends up being recycled.
Mint CEO Anne Jessopp said the technology will help “make a real impact on one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.”
- The giant £ 10K gold coin weighs 22 lbs
- Discarded electronics will weigh more than the Great Wall of China
The Royal Mint has signed an agreement with Canadian start-up Excir to recover 99% and more of the gold from the device circuits.
He said the chemistry selectively targets and extracts precious metals from printed circuit boards in seconds.
Researchers have estimated that electronic and electrical equipment discarded in 2021 will weigh more than 57 million tons.
If nothing is done to tackle the problem, e-waste is expected to reach 74 million tonnes by 2030, nearly double the tonnage in a decade, the mint said.
The plans would see precious metals recovered at room temperature at the mint site in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf, instead of electronic waste leaving the UK coast to be processed at high temperatures in foundries.
Initial use of the technology at the Royal Mint has already produced gold with a purity of 999.9, but when fully upgraded it has the potential to recover palladium, silver and copper as well.
- Growth of the mountain of electrical waste in the UK
Ms. Jessopp of the mint described the potential of the technology as “enormous” in its ability to reduce electronic waste, preserve precious metals and develop new skills.
Sean Millard, chief growth officer of the Royal Mint, added that the chemistry was “revolutionary”.
“It offers enormous potential for The Royal Mint and the circular economy, helping to reuse our planet’s precious resources and creating new skills in the UK.”
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