I’ve heard of ‘filthy lucre’, but this is ridiculous!

The expression ‘filthy lucre‘ goes back to the sixteenth century – but it could seldom be used more appropriately than to describe the rewards currently being reaped by the Nagano prefecture in Japan.

Resource-poor Japan just discovered a new source of mineral wealth — sewage.

A sewage treatment facility in central Japan has recorded a higher gold yield from sludge than can be found at some of the world’s best mines. An official in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, said the high percentage of gold found at the Suwa facility was probably due to the large number of precision equipment manufacturers in the vicinity that use the yellow metal. The facility recently recorded finding 1,890 grammes of gold per tonne of ash from incinerated sludge.

That is a far higher gold content than Japan’s Hishikari Mine, one of the world’s top gold mines, owned by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd, which contains 20-40 grammes of the precious metal per tonne of ore.

The prefecture is so far due to receive 5 million yen ($55,810) for the gold, minus expenses.

It expects to earn about 15 million yen for the fiscal year to the end of March from the gold it has retrieved from the ashes of incinerated sludge.

“How much we actually receive will depend on gold prices at the time,” the official said.

Some gold industry officials expect prices this year to top the all-time high above $1,030 per ounce set in 2008, on buying by investors worried about the deepening economic downturn.

I wonder how many householders will set up their own effluent gold-panning operations after reading this report? Come to think of it, how about designing a septic tank that does it automatically?



  1. I read an article somewhere about recycled cellphones having hundreds of times more precious metals per ton than their original ores. I think this will be big business soon.


  2. They did this in a few places here in the U.S. until the laws changed. The platers and manufacturers aren’t allowed to put that much down the drain anymore. On the other hand, some people down in Australia are looking at mining old sewage ponds.

    The biggest problem with recovering these metals is that the processes currently used generally involve dissolving the part in acid, soaking it up in plastic, and then burning it to leave the metal. There are other methods, but it’ll take a while to get them into the mainstream.

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