The Royal Mint in the UK has partnered with Canadian cleantech firm Excir to extract precious metals, including gold, used in discarded electronic devices.
The government-owned mint claims the alliance to help bring the world’s first sustainable precious metal technology to the UK.
It plans to build a plant in Wales featuring Excir’s chemical solutions while helping reduce the environmental impact of e-waste.
Excir’s patented technology is designed to recover more than 99% of gold contained within the circuit boards of discarded laptops and mobile phones.
The chemistry used in the technology allows for the extraction of precious metals from circuit boards in seconds.
With the partnership, The Royal Mint intends to scale the technology from laboratory to mass production.
Initial use of the technology by the mint has resulted in the production of 999.9 purity gold, the mint formed more than 1,100 years ago said.
The Royal Mint CEO Anne Jessopp said: “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.”
When fully scaled up, the technology is expected to recover palladium, silver and copper.
The Royal Mint chief growth officer Sean Millard said: “The chemistry is revolutionary and capable of recovering precious metals from electronic devices in seconds.
“It offers huge potential for The Royal Mint and the circular economy – helping to reuse our planet’s precious resources and creating new skills in the UK.”