B100mn of gold, silver flushed down Switzerland's toilets annually

About 70% of the world’s gold passes through the Switzerland’s refineries on average every year

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology have come out with an estimate stating that around 43 kg of gold, worth more than Rs 11 crore, passes through the country's wastewater every year.

Moreover, the same research team discovered that in this particular area where most manufacturers established their headquarters and shops, the amount of gold was so significant, they could collect it.

The discovery of sewer gold in Switzerland has social media talking. At certain sites in Ticino, concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile. The researchers investigated the extent to which treatment plants contribute to total fluxes in receiving waters. But for the most part, scientists say the metals would not be worth recovering. Studies in Germany have reported critical local concentrations of the rare earth metals lanthanum and samarium in the Rhine.

As you know, Switzerland is a major center for the processing of gold.

Overall, however, considering the amounts that could be extracted, the recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is not said to be worthwhile in a country that refines around 70 percent of the world's gold on average every year.

However, this is not the first time that metals have been detected in sewage sludge.

So much of the world's gold and silver passes through Switzerland to be refined yearly that an estimated value of over B100mn regularly gets flushed into their sewage system, Swiss researchers revealed in a report on Tuesday (Oct 10).

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