There could be a large financial value in extracting rare earth elements (REE) and other valuable metals from landfill sites, an academic study has found.
Cranfield University analysed 55 samples of soil-like material from four UK landfill sites down to 30 metres depth. It ignored larger materials like plastics and chunks of metal.
Researchers, including Dr Stuart Wagland and Dr Frédéric Coulon, detected copper and aluminium across the four sites with a combined value of £261m.
They also found over £92m of the precious metal palladium and over £6m of neodymium.
Dr Wagland said: “It is unlikely that the recovery of only rare and critical metals would be economically viable. However, recover copper and aluminium and it starts to make sense.
“We need to do a lot of metal processing to get the material away from the soil, which is a big challenge, but the vaue of the material is considerable.
“Further resource recovery is possible with the extraction of larger metal items and the reprocessing of plastics, adding even more value to the operation.”
As reported by MRW, former energy minister Michael Fallon announced to the House of Lords science committee that landfill mining could be a source for energy in 15-20 years.