The Royal Mint is set to bring pioneering technology to the UK that will allow it to recycle discarded mobile phones and laptops to recover gold, silver and precious metals.
The Government-owned coinmaker has signed a deal with Canadian start-up Excir to use the world’s first sustainable precious metal technology.
The Royal Mint aims to use the technology, based on chemistry, at its site in South Wales to retrieve precious metals from e-waste, which is contained within the circuit boards of discarded electronics such as phones and laptops.
It said trials of the technology at The Royal Mint has already produced gold with a purity of 999.9, and has the potential to also recover palladium, silver and copper.
The chemistry selectively targets and extracts precious metals from circuit boards in seconds, offering a sustainable solution to the more than 50 million tonnes of e-waste produced worldwide each year.
Less than 20% of e-waste is currently recycled worldwide, with precious metals valued at an estimated 57 billion US dollars (£41 billion) largely discarded.
Mountains of e-waste is sent to landfill or is sent abroad to be processed at high temperatures in smelters.
Experts believe that as much as 7% of the world’s gold may be contained in e-waste, with 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore.
Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint, said: “This partnership represents a significant milestone for The Royal Mint as we reinvent for the future as the home of precious metals in the UK.
“The potential of this technology is huge, reducing the impact of electronic waste, preserving precious commodities, and forging new skills which help drive a circular economy.”