100 Years Of Gold And Silver Refining
(Kitco News) - The technical and digital revolutions have transformed gold and silver demand from monetary metals and fashion accessories to essential components that are continuously used in our daily lives, according to one refiner celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Chris Jones, president of precious metals refiner Gannon & Scot
In a recent interview with Kitco News, Chris Jones, president of precious metals refiner Gannon & Scott, said that tech recycling has been the fastest growing sector for precious metals refining for his company over the past century, and that continues today.
The company regularly receives palettes from manufacturers stacked with boxes full of high-value components ready for precious metals recovery. “It is incredible to think about all the electronics that use gold and silver. High-density PC boards and other components are a mix of materials. So, precious metals recovery can be challenging. Customers rely on our expertise in evaluating the potential for recovery and returning high-value,” Jones said.
Although thrifting of precious metals has been a growing trend in electronics as manufacturers try to reduce costs, Jones said that there is still no replacement for these metals. He added that gold will continue to be critical for component in robotics, aerospace and the medical sector.
“If you need an electrical connection and you need it to be absolutely failsafe, then gold will continue to be the metal you use,” he said. “We are seeing new applications for gold and silver being developed every day.”
Despite ongoing thrifting, gold demand in the tech sector continues to grow. The World Gold Council said that the tech sector consumed 334.6 tonnes of gold in 2018, its highest level in four years.
Not only are there new uses for gold and silver, but Jones said that how metals are recycled has become a lot more complicated. The integration of minute traces of gold and silver in synthetic products and plastics has made recycling more complex.
“It was a lot easier to recycle gold and silver 100 years ago when the materials were fairly basic. Today you have to deal with more complicated materials,” he said. “If you don’t deal with them properly there is the potential for pollution. And in the end, you aren’t solving a problem, you are just creating a new one.”
Not only is Gannon & Scott helping to keep electronic waste out of landfills, but Jones noted that the company is also committed to reducing its environmental footprint.
For example, the company designed its proprietary Tru3Tec™ thermal reduction system with advanced environmental controls. Also, the company’s two processing plants, one in Rhode Island and another in Arizona, are zero-discharge facilities. Jones added that the Rhode Island refinery also features an acre of solar panels, generating enough electricity to power 60 homes.
The company’s environmental commitments are just one piece of a growing trend the industry is seeing as demand grows for ethical and responsible gold, Jones said.
Looking ahead, Jones said that the solar sector could be the next growth phase for the company as it plans to recycle the silver used in solar panels.