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Scientists find gold worth over Rs 11 crore in Switzerland's sewers
12 October 2017, 12:35 | Opal Carroll
Scientists say 43 kilos of gold is flushed through Swiss sewers each year
In addition to gold, it also found 3,000kg of silver lost in the sludge each year - worth around $1.7 million - and concentrations of trace elements like tantalum and germanium often used in the technology and medical sectors.
The scientists noted that the concentrations found in the wastewater don't pose risks to the environment, and wide-scale recovery wouldn't be worthwhile. While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater.
That's over $2.25 million in gold and $2.12 million in silver, researchers report. "This is due to in the region of several gold-mining plants". But for the most part, scientists say the metals would not be worth recovering. For example, the total aluminium and copper fluxes are equivalent, respectively, to only 0.2 and just under 4 per cent of annual Swiss imports.
It is the first such study where trace elements were surveyed in wastewater for an industrialised country.
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This isn't the first time major metals have been detected in sewage sludge.
Researchers sample the wastewater at Werdhölzli treatment plant in Zurich. Studies in Germany have reported critical local concentrations of the rare earth metals lanthanum and samarium in the Rhine.
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.
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