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  • The Royal Mint has partnered with the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment Sales Authority to process tonnes of redundant, non-saleable defence equipment at The Royal Mint’s new South Wales based plant each year  
  • The Royal Mint has developed a world-first processing facility to recover gold from electronic device using patented chemistry

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(Photo left to right: Mark Loveridge, Business Unit Director for Precious Metals Recovery at The Royal Mint and Jennifer Willis, DESA Deputy Head)

26 January 2024

The Royal Mint has partnered with the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) to provide an innovative and sustainable solution for the disposal of electronic defence equipment.

It is estimated that around 7% of the world’s gold is contained within electronic waste and it remains 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. The approach reduces the environmental impact of electronic waste and embraces the principles of a circular economy.  

The Royal Mint’s pioneering plant, designed to recover gold and other precious metals from electronic devices, is due to be unveiled this year. With shared commitments around sustainability and security, the partnership with 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, will mean that tonnes of retired and surplus defence equipment, which typically contains high levels of gold and other rare metals, will be securely processed at the South Wales plant each year.

Minister for State for Defence, The Earl of Minto, said: “It is fantastic to see this new, innovative technology being used to recycle old defence equipment. Finding new ways to reduce the costs of disposing of our waste whilst minimising our impact on the environment is a valuable area of work. I very much look forward to seeing the positive impact of the new facility in Wales.”

The innovative plant uses world-first patented chemistry from Canadian company 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.

Mark Loveridge, Business Unit Director for Precious Metals Recovery at The Royal Mint, said: “At The Royal Mint, sustainability remains front and centre in the decisions we make and the partnerships we form, and we’re pleased to announce a partnership with DESA, who will provide a regular source of materials to our Precious Metals Recovery Plant. 

“The Royal Mint’s new plant has the capability to recover gold and other precious metals from circuit boards in large quantities here in the UK, at ambient temperatures; safely recovering materials from the entire circuit board. We are proud to be working with partners from across the UK, including DESA, allowing The Royal Mint to become a leader in sustainable precious metals.”   

Richard Whalley, Head DESA, said: “DESA is constantly searching for new ways to improve our recycling portfolio by reuse, resale or, as in this case, by recovery of valuable metals which will return to the UK economy.

“This innovative partnership with The Royal Mint, successfully delivered by our Innovation Team, is a key enabler for MOD’s continuing sustainability and circular economy journey. 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. DESA looks forward to working with The Royal Mint over the months and years ahead to further develop this partnership and fully investigate the possibilities of this new process.”

As The Royal Mint prepares to formally unveil its new Precious Metals Recovery Plant later this year, it 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. 

For more information, visit www.royalmint.com/e-waste-service.

For more information on the role of DESA, visit Defence Equipment Sales Authority - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

DE&S is the procurement arm of the UK MOD, which equips and supports UK Armed Forces and its allies around the globe. 

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