A team of US scientist from the US Geological Survey has calculated that “waste” from a million people could contain precious metals worth up to R156-million, making it worthwhile to extract commercially.
The team found gold, platinum and silver in treated waste.
The challenge is finding a way to extract the metals.
"There are metals everywhere - in your hair care products, detergents, even nanoparticles that are put in socks to prevent bad odours, " says Kathleen Smith of the US Geological Survey.
The US “produces” seven million tons of “biosolids” every year of which about half is used as fertiliser while the other half is destroyed by incineration.
Scientists are now looking into ways to remove regulated metals from faeces that limit its use as compost as well as gathering precious metals to be sold.
If this dream is realised it bodes well for the environment as it will cut down the need for mining and reduce the discharge of metal into the environment.