Royal Mint and Excir to recover precious metals from e-waste

The Royal Mint is partnering with Canadian clean tech start up Excir to introduce technology to the UK that will retrieve and recycle gold and other precious metals from electronic waste.

precious metals
The Royal Mint unveils innovative new chemistry (Image: Royal Mail)

Excir’s patented technology is said to recover over 99 per cent of gold from electronic waste, which is contained within the circuit boards of discarded laptops and mobile phones.

“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,” Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint said in a statement. “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.”

Why it’s time to start planning for the circular economy

Each year, 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced globally, a figure set to reach 74 million tonnes by 2030. To date, less than a fifth of electronic waste is recycled world-wide, resulting in a loss of gold, silver, copper, palladium, and other highly valued metals conservatively valued $57bn.

Excir’s proprietary chemical process selectively targets and extracts precious metals from circuit boards in seconds and scientists and engineers at The Royal Mint are now working to scale up the technology from the laboratory to mass production.

Sean Millard, chief growth officer at The Royal Mint, said: "The Excir technology complements our ambition to be a leader in sustainable precious metals. The chemistry is revolutionary…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.”

Instead of electronic waste leaving UK shores to be processed at high temperatures in smelters, the approach will see precious metals recovered at room temperature at The Royal Mint’s site in South Wales. Initial use of the technology at The Royal Mint has already produced gold with a purity of 999.9, and when fully scaled up, the process has potential to also recover palladium, silver and copper.

Jim Fox, CEO of Excir, said: “The team at Excir feel extremely fortunate to be working alongside The Royal Mint to scale Excir’s patented technology from laboratory to mass production over the coming years.  Their 1,100 years of expertise in precious metals and innovation, coupled with a desire to foster new skills and benefit the environment, made them the ideal partner for us.”