Pioneering new technology allows the Royal Mint to recover precious metals from discarded electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops.
Each year, more than 50 million tons of electronic waste is produced worldwide, but less than 20% is recycled. If nothing is done, this figure will reach 74 million tonnes in 2030.
The first plant of its kind will provide a source of high-quality precious metals and offer a solution to significant and growing environmental challenges.
It is part of the reinvention of the Royal Mint and helps secure a future as a leader in sustainably sourced precious metals.
A world’s first factory in South Wales to recover gold from e-waste.
This initiative follows its recent association with the Canadian technology company Excir, whose the patented technology is capable of recovering more than 99% of the gold from the circuit boards of laptops and mobile phonesselecting metal in seconds.
The plant’s aim is to help solve a growing environmental problem, support employment and training in Britain and create a new source of high quality precious metals for the company.
The construction of the plant begins shortly. It will be located on the grounds of the Royal Mint and, when fully operational in 2023, is expected to process up to 90 tonnes of UK sourced circuit boards per week.
This will generate hundreds of kilograms of gold per year and is expected to support around 40 jobs, help retrain current employees and hire new chemists and engineers.
Instead of e-waste leaving UK shores to be processed at high temperatures in smelters, the aim is to recover the precious metals at room temperature in the Royal Mint’s factory. Adopting the principles of the circular economy, the factory will process all printed circuit boards, thus conserving natural resources for longer.
Sean Millard, director of growth at the Royal Mint, said the technology being introduced in conjunction with Excir will offer a “game-changing” approach, with huge potential to reduce the environmental footprint of e-waste.
We estimate that 99% of UK PCBs are currently shipped overseas to be treated at high temperatures in foundries.
As the volume of e-waste increases every year, this problem will only increase. 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.