Royal Mint to turn electronic waste into gold

Image of a circuit board

The Royal Mint has announced that it will recover gold from electrical waste to use in its coins. They will be joining other companies, like N2S, GAP Group, Mint Innovation and Descycle, in investing in enhanced processing facilities that will recover critical raw materials from the circuit boards of old electricals. Over £148 million of critical and precious metals reach recyclers each year, with most of the gold, silver and platinum being recovered overseas. But many critical raw materials are lost during processing. More investment in new advanced technologies will help recover more of the lost critical raw materials.

The new Royal Mint facility in South Wales, set to open in 2023, will start salvaging the precious metal from the circuit boards of laptops and smartphones. They aim to process up to 90 tonnes of UK sourced circuit boards per week. Retrieving hundreds of kilograms of gold per year. 

Over 300,000 tonnes of electricals are currently being binned by households and businesses each year. Recycling more e-waste and investing in new UK processing technologies would capture more critical and precious metals for the UK economy.

Similarly, GAP group and Descycle have announced plans to build a joint `multi-million pound’ waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling facility in the North East of England. The GAP and Descycle facility will have the capacity to recycle 5,000 tonnes of printed circuit boards and other ‘high value’ WEEE per year.

N2S, in partnership with Coventry University, has been using a ‘bioleaching’ process that uses microbiological techniques and living organisms to extract rare metals from e-waste. And Mint Innovation announced in 2020 plans to build a commercial refinery in Cheshire for extracting precious metals from electronic waste, claiming this would be the first to use bacteria rather than cyanide-based processes.

To find your nearest recycling point and to start recycling your electricals check out our recycling locator.

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