Fortunes could be saved from going down the drain by extracting gold and precious metals from human excrement, scientists suggest.
Sewage sludge contains traces of gold, silver and platinum at levels that would be seen as commercially viable by traditional prospectors. “The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” said Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey.
Smith and her colleagues argue that extracting metals from waste could also help limit the release of harmful metals, such as lead, into the environment in fertilisers and reduce the amount of toxic sewage that has to be buried or burnt.
“If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that’s a win-win,” she said.
A previous study, by Arizona State University, estimated that a city of 1 million inhabitants flushed about $13m (£8.7m) worth of precious metals down toilets and sewer drains each year.
Not sure I fancy taking the Deus into the sewers. Still, it seems to suggest that the UK could be flushing over half a billion quids worth of precious metals down the khazi every year. That’s almost £9 per person.
A hobby archaeologist with a metal detector has discovered a trove of gold and silver in a German forest dating back to late Roman times, fuelling speculation that it could be the legendary Nibelung treasure which inspired composer Richard Wagner’s operatic “Ring Cycle”.
The haul from the western state of Rhineland Palatinate, which is worth about €1m, includes silver bowls, brooches and other jewellery from ceremonial robes, as well as small statues that would have adorned a grand chair, archaeologists say.
We’re used to seeing unusual statistics from government, but this one from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport is a particular rarity; it’s all about treasure. Real treasure that is. All 970 bits of it that were discovered in 2011. This is what we found out.
The common law of Treasure Trove in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was replaced by the the Treasure Act 1996. Now, the ‘finder’ is legally obliged to report the object to a local coroner within 14 days who will lead an inquest.
Then it’s a waiting game – if it turns out to be treasure, then the finder has to offer it up for sale to a museum. The price is decided by an independent board of antiquities experts. If the museum can’t or won’t buy the item, the ‘finder’ has the right to keep the treasure.
92.7% of treasure was uncovered using a metal detector, compared to a mere 3.4% from archeological digs.
The Siverdale Hoard will go on display in Lancaster next week, but it won’t be staying in the city.
The 1,100-year-old collection of Viking silver, discovered by a metal detectorist in Silverdale in 2011, can be viewed at Lancaster City Museum from October 25, but will then be transferred to the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, which will be its permanent home.
Alan Sandham, the chair of the Friends of Lancaster City Musuem, said: “We are glad that Lancaster will get the first chance to see the Silverdale Hoard, but we are disappointed that the city council decided against purchase, which would have led to the hoard being displayed in Lancaster permanently instead of Preston.”