The Royal Mint will build a plant to extract gold from electronic waste

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LONDON – The British Royal Mint plans to build an e-waste gold recovery facility to be fully operational in 2023.

In a statement on Monday, the state-owned precious metal and coin maker said it would use Canadian firm Excir’s so-called “patented new chemistry” to extract gold from the circuit boards of mobile phones and laptops.

According to the Royal Mint, the process is capable of recovering “over 99% of the precious metals found in e-waste – selectively targeting the metal in seconds.”

Recovery, he says, takes place at room temperature, as opposed to the high temperatures required by smelters to process e-waste. The plant will be located in South Wales, UK, where the mint is located, and construction will begin this month.

The company said it expects the facility to process up to 90 metric tons of PCBs shipped from the UK each week. This would allow “hundreds of kilograms” of gold to be produced each year, he added.

This week’s announcement builds on a previous October 2021 announcement in which the Royal Mint said it had signed an agreement with Excir to roll out its technology in the UK. palladium.

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The proliferation of technologies such as smartphones, tablets and laptops has led to e-waste being the subject of much controversy and debate in recent years.

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, about 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was generated globally in 2019. The report also states that only 17.4% of this waste was “officially registered as properly collected and recycled.”

In addition to this low level of collection and recycling, the report also states that e-waste contains harmful substances, including mercury, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, and brominated flame retardants.

As concerns about the environment and sustainability grow, companies like Excir are looking to implement and monetize practices focused on the recycling and reuse of e-waste.

Others include New Zealand-based Mint Innovation. In 2020, Ollie Crash, the company’s chief scientist, told CNBC that the company “developed a biological process to extract valuable metals from strange and wonderful raw materials like e-waste.”

Crush explained that the Mint Innovation system involved collecting waste and “grinding it to a sand-like consistency.”

“The reason we do this is because we need to make sure that all of the metal contained inside undergoes a subsequent chemical leaching process,” he added.

“For example, when you look at circuit boards, there are a lot of chips on them – most of the value is in those chips, so we really need to make sure it’s exposed.”

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