Friday, 22 February, 2019

$2 million-dollar-worth of gold ends up in Switzerland's sewage annually

Nellie Chapman | 12 October, 2017, 11:48

Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver are flushed away in Switzerland each year, a new study has found.

A national research institute took samples from pipelines and water treatment plants, and concluded that the Swiss are throwing 40 kilograms of gold annually.

The scientists found other unexpected elements in the water: large amounts of silver and even rare earth minerals often used in the manufacture of electronic devices. The study centered on 64 waste treatment plants across Switzerland and claims to the be the first systematic wastewater survey for trace elements in an industrialized country. For example, elevated concentrations of ruthenium, rhodium and gold were found in the Jura (presumably from the watchmaking industry), and of arsenic (presumably geogenic) in parts of Graub√ľnden and Valais.

Swiss wastewater is worth its weight in gold - literally.

Switzerland is one of the world's major gold refining hubs with about 70 percent of world's gold passing through it every year and four major gold refineries of the world being present on Swiss soil. The price tag on the accumulated gold: roughly $2 million.

In addition to gold, nearly 3,000 kg of silver - equivalent to a value of Rs 11 crore- was going to waste every year, most if being residue from chemical and medical industries. At certain sites in Ticino, concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile. It circled back to two Spanish women who reportedly flushed 500-euro bills at a UBS bank and local restaurants.