MOBILE PHONE WASTE TO BE USED FOR COINS
The Royal Mint has announced plans to build a ‘world first’ plant in South Wales to recover gold from UK electronic waste, such as mobile phones and computers, and turn it into coins.
The pioneering facility will help address a growing environmental issue, support jobs and skills in Britain, and create a new source of high quality precious metals for the business.
The Royal Mint is using patented new chemistry - created by Canadian based Excir - to recover gold within the circuit boards of laptops and mobile phones. The unique chemistry is capable of recovering over 99% 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 Royal Mint expects 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 forty jobs, helping existing employees to re-skill as well as recruiting new chemists and engineers.
Each year, more than 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced globally, with less than 20% currently being recycled. According to the Mint, 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 approach will see precious metals recovered at room temperature at The Royal Mint’s plant in South Wales.
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.’