Swiss wastewater is worth its weight in gold – literally.
In fact, it’s estimated to be worth over C$4 million after researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology discovered that about 43 kilograms of gold and 3,000 kilograms of silver run through the country’s wastewater every year.
That’s over $2.25 million in gold and $2.12 million in silver, researchers report.
The discovery of sewer gold in Switzerland has social media talking.
New Zealand's waterways are polluted with agricultural run-off; in Switzerland, the problem is gold in the water… https://t.co/1FVlnf3mF2
— David Skilling (@dskilling) October 11, 2017
— David Ingles (@DavidInglesTV) October 11, 2017
Probably why Pennywise hangs out in the sewers all the time… https://t.co/LOMvNXXhVV
— Reynald Kurniawan (@reynald_k133) October 11, 2017
Which makes Swiss rats wealthier than most people on this planet… https://t.co/1yfojcc63w
— CLF (@CLF_Project) October 10, 2017
better headline: "Swiss scientists find 💩load of gold" https://t.co/QQzfz8zqBm
— NE Ohio Regional Sewer (@neorsd) October 11, 2017
The discovery was made after researchers studied 64 water treatment plants in Switzerland.
In some sites, like Ticino, researchers say the concentrations of gold in the sewage sludge are “sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile.”
The reason for the presence of gold in the water can be attributed to several gold refineries in the area.
Other rare earth metals, like gadolinium and heavy meal niobium, were also found in the Swiss wastewater, the report details.
“Overall, however, according to the researchers, the recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted,” the report says. “For example, the total aluminum and copper fluxes are equivalent, respectively, to only 0.2 and just under four per cent of annual Swiss imports.”
The report says the study focused primarily on the fluxes and mass balances, rather than recovery value.
According to Bloomberg, Switzerland is a major hub for gold refineries. It’s also reported that about 70 per cent of the world’s gold is refined in the country every year.
This isn’t the first time major metals have been detected in sewage sludge.
A 2015 study by Arizona State University found as much as US$13 million worth of metals in sewage waters produced every year in a city with a million people, US$2.6 million of which is gold and silver.