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).
Swiss scientists have found that 43kg of gold worth about $1.8 million is passing through Switzerland's wastewater each year, as first spotted by Bloomberg. Most of it is waste chemical and medical industries.
That's over $2.25 million in gold and $2.12 million in silver, researchers report.
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.
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute aquanaute and technology has estimated that approximately 43 kilograms of gold, worth about $ 1.8 million annually passes through the waste water.
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Apart from gold and silver, several other rare earth metals such as gadolinium and heavy metal niobium were also found in the Swiss wastewater.
Last month an investigation was launched after toilets at a Geneva bank and three restaurants were blocked by about US$100,000 in high-denomination banknotes - a bit different from the huge fat mass that blocked an east London sewer.
"It wouldn't make sense for people to boil their tap water to recover gold or silver because it has already been filtered out before it re-enters the drinking water supply", Vriens said.