Royal Mint to build plant for turning e-waste to gold

The Royal Mint has announced plans to build the world’s first factory in South Wales to recover gold from electronic waste.

The Royal Mint
Image: The Royal Mint

The development follows the recently announced partnership with the Canadian tech start-up excursionits proprietary technology is said to be capable of reclaiming more than 99 percent of the gold in laptop and cell phone circuit boards, selectively targeting the metal within seconds.

The facility aims to tackle a growing environmental problem, support jobs and skills in Britain and create a new source of high-quality precious metals for the company.

Construction of the factory will begin this month. It will be located on the premises of The Royal Mint and, when fully operational in 2023, is expected to process up to 90 tonnes of printed circuit boards from the UK per week.

This will yield hundreds of pounds of gold per year and is expected to support about 40 jobs, help retrain existing workers and recruit new chemists and engineers.

Royal Mint and Excir to recover precious metals from e-waste

Every year, more than 50 million tons of electronic waste is produced worldwide, but less than 20 percent is recycled. Without intervention, this will rise to 74 million tons by 2030.

Instead of electronic waste leaving UK shores to be processed at high temperatures in smelters, the approach will see precious metals recovered at room temperature at The Royal Mint’s factory. Embracing the principles of the circular economy, the factory will process the entire printed circuit boards, preserving natural resources for longer.

Sean Millard, Chief Growth Officer at The Royal Mint, said the technology introduced in partnership with Excir will offer a ‘revolutionary’ approach, with huge potential to reduce the environmental footprint of electronic waste.

“We estimate that 99 per cent of printed circuit boards in the UK are currently shipped overseas to be processed at high temperatures in smelters,” said Millard.

“As the amount of electronic waste increases every year, this problem will only get worse. When fully operational, our factory will be the first of its kind in the world – processing tons of electronic waste every week and supplying a new source of high-quality gold directly to The Royal Mint.”

Abhishek Maheswari
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