Sector News

Royal Mint plant will recover gold from electronics waste

April 9, 2022
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

The UK’s Royal Mint is building a chemical plant that uses a room temperature process to recover gold from electronics waste.

More than 53m t of electronics waste is produced each year, with less than 18% currently recycled, according to figures from the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership. And the environmental burden is expected to keep climbing, with production of e-waste expected to rise higher than 74m t/y by 2030.

Sean Millard, Chief Growth Officer at The Royal Mint, said: “We estimate that 99% of the UK’s circuit boards are currently shipped overseas to be processed at high temperatures in smelters. As the volume of electronic waste increases each year, this problem is only set to become bigger.”

The Royal Mint has begun construction of its plant in South Wales that will use a process developed by Canadian firm Excir. Once fully operational in 2023, the plant will process up to 90 t per week of UK-sourced circuit boards from the likes of laptops and mobile phones, producing hundreds of kilograms of gold per year.

The firm and the Royal Mint have released little detail on the technical aspects of the process. Patents filed by Excir reveal that the process leaches gold from printed circuit boards without crushing. The system uses acetic acid as the solvent and contains very low concentrations of additional acids and oxidants. The patent describes a highly efficient leachate system that recovers more than 99% of gold from scrap electronics waste at room temperature in 10–20 seconds. The process would avoid harsh leaching solutions, including cyanides commonly used in existing hydrometallurgical recovery processes. It would also avoid the limitations of pyrometallurgical recovery including smelting, where plastics cannot be recovered for reuse and hazardous emissions of dioxins are produced.

In 2018, the inventors of the process demonstrated their technology on Canada’s Dragon’s Den, securing a C$1m (US$800,000) investment.

The Royal Mint, which produces currency and collectible coins, says the new venture will support around 40 jobs, helping existing employees to reskill as well as recruiting new chemists and engineers.

by Adam Duckett

Source: thechemicalengineer.com

comments closed

Related News

May 26, 2024

Borealis signs first Austrian wind and solar PPA with Burgenland Energie

Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Borealis has partnered with Austria-based wind and solar power producer and green tech solution provider Burgenland Energie on a power purchase agreement (PPA). Under the ten-year agreement, renewable electricity will be provided by a hybrid renewable energy park located in Nickelsdorf, Austria, which is owned by Burgenland Energie’s subsidiaries Nick Alpha and Wind PV Operation.

May 26, 2024

DuPont to split into three companies

Energy & Chemical Value Chain

DuPont de Nemours Inc. announced plans to split into three separate, publicly traded companies. The electronic materials and water business will become independent companies, with the remainder of the company to comprise New DuPont. The splits will be complete within 18 to 24 months, and do not require shareholder approval.

May 26, 2024

Olin hires new leader for chlor-alkali and vinyls business

Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Olin Corp. has hired Deon Carter as vice president and president/chlor-alkali products and vinyls, effective June 17. Carter was previously COO at Continental Industries Group, a position he took April 2023 after serving as president and CEO of Scientific Design Company.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach