Britain’s maker of coins is to go into the mobile phone recycling business using a pioneering technology to recover gold and other precious metals from unwanted devices
Under an agreement with Excir, a Canadian clean tech start up, The Royal Mint will use ‘Midas touch’ technology to retrieve metals from electronic waste items like phones and laptops.
Excir claims its patented technology can recover more than 99% of metals from the circuit boards of these devices within a matter of seconds.
Rather than waste being shipped abroad and smelted down at high temperatures, the new approach would see phones and laptops processed at a yet to be built site in South Wales at room temperature.
Royal Mint said it had already produced gold with a purity of 999.9 (generally accepted as 100% Gold as it is impossible to truly achieve), and when fully scaled up the process has the potential to also recover palladium, silver and copper.
More than 80% of electronic waste is incorrectly disposed of worldwide.
In money terms, that means almost US$57bn high valued metals are lost, a sum greater than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries.
Currently, the UK is responsible for 1.5mln tonnes of the 50mln tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) produced worldwide each year.
That is expected to rise to 74mln tonnes by 2030 if the current trends continue.
If not disposed of correctly, it can release harmful toxins in the air, which can negatively impact the surrounding communities as well as the overall environment.
With the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) set to get under way at the end of this month, companies all over the globe are pursuing avenues in which they can assist in slowing down the climate crisis.
If successful, the pioneering approach adopted by The Royal Mint has the potential to be mimicked by other nations.
Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint said, “We are immensely proud to partner with Excir to bring this world first technology to the UK.”
“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.”
A kilogram of gold as of Wednesday afternoon is valued at GBP41,464.42 and comprises 32.1507 troy ounces.