The Royal Mint and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) are collaborating on a sustainable solution to dispose of electronic defence equipment.

It’s estimated that around 7% of the world’s gold is contained within electronic waste1, making it one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world.

The Royal Mint is using patented technology – created by Canadian based company Excir – to recover precious metals contained within circuit boards at ambient temperatures.

Their Precious Metals Recovery Plant, designed to recover gold and other precious metals from electronic devices, opens later this year in South Wales.

The partnership is with the Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA), part of MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation and the sole authority within the MOD for the sale of surplus military equipment from the UK Armed Forces.

Tonnes of retired and surplus defence equipment, which typically contains high levels of gold and other rare metals, will be securely processed at the plant every year.

The innovative plant uses world-first patented chemistry from Excir to recover gold with provenance, and extracts value from every element of the asset and its component circuit boards -including silver and copper – using other processes developed by the UK’s oldest company.

These materials can then be purchased by The Royal Mint, to help fulfil its ambition of using sustainably sourced precious metals in its products or returned for reuse by MOD.

Richard Whalley, Head of DESA, said, “It is DESA’s pleasure to work with The Royal Mint to convert redundant non-saleable defence assets into a valuable resource, whilst also reducing disposal costs, minimising environmental impacts and securing the UK’s access to this new source of critical minerals into a valuable resource. It also reduces disposal costs, minimises environmental impacts and secures the UK’s access to this new source of critical minerals.”

The Royal Mint is securing relationships with feedstock suppliers across the UK, who are supplying printed circuit boards from electronic devices, containing varying amounts of gold and other recyclable materials. Once fully operational, the multi-million-pound plant will be capable of processing up to 75 tonnes of electronic components per week – the equivalent of 75 small cars – producing hundreds of kilograms of gold each year.