According to Bloomberg, Swiss scientists estimate Switzerland's bustling gold refineries disperse about $1.8 million worth of gold into the country's sewer system every year. On average, about 70 percent of the world's gold passes through Swiss refineries.
The concentrations of metals in most cases do not harm the environment, according to the study, which was commissioned by Switzerland's Federal Office for the Environment. For example, elevated concentrations of ruthenium, rhodium and gold were found in the Jura (presumably from the watchmaking industry), and of arsenic (presumably geogenic) in parts of Graubünden and Valais.
At certain sites such as Ticino, where several gold refineries are present, the concentration of the yellow metal in the sewage sludge is high enough for the recovery to be "potentially worthwhile", said a press release published by Eawag scientists on October 10. For the major nutrient phosphorus, measurements from this study confirmed earlier calculations: inputs from wastewater treatment plants account for 50 per cent of phosphorus loads in large Swiss rivers.
A hidden treasure of Switzerland: sewage gold.
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In addition to gold, nearly 3,000 kg of silver - equivalent to a value of Rs 11 crore- was going to waste every year, most if being residue from chemical and medical industries.
Gold and silver aren't the only valuable items found in Swiss waste water this year.
What's more, just last month, Swiss investigators tracked the discovery of cut-up paper bills amounting to 100,000 euros ($120,000) - also found in the sewage system.
The investigators said they were concerned the women were trying to get rid of illegal cash.