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Figure of the month: 20 million

News Arnulf Hinkel, financial journalist – 01.09.2022

According to the World Gold Council, in excess of 205.000 tonnes of gold have been mined worldwide from the beginning of mankind until the end of 2021. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the gold reserves in today's gold mines could be exhausted in as little as 12 years, given the consistently high mining volumes over the last years. However, there are gold deposits on this planet that have not yet been touched by humans - and for good reason.

There is twice as much gold in seawater as in the seabed

Whoever suspects that there might be gold in the bottom of the world's oceans – just as the deposits on earth - is right: up to 10 million tonnes of the precious metal are suspected to be there. Even more - twice as much ¬ is said to be found directly in seawater, finely dissolved. However, according to estimates by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one litre of seawater contains only about one billionth of a gram of gold, which is why salvaging this enormous marine treasure has so far been considered completely unprofitable from an economic point of view. This could change in the foreseeable future: with the aid of special bacteria and a biotechnical process, it might be possible to extract the gold nanoparticles found in seawater in an environmentally friendly way and at reasonable cost.

Gold makes seawater drinkable – with unrivalled efficiency

The precious metal is not only found in seawater, it could also help to ease the increasingly threatening global shortage of drinking water: with the help of titanium oxide coated with gold nanoparticles, an international research team led by scientists from Far Eastern Federal University and ITMO University in Russia has succeeded in laboratory tests in accelerating the extraction of drinking water from salt water by a factor of 2.5 compared to all previous methods. This could make the extraction of drinking water significantly cheaper and faster than ever.

 

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