Turning sludge into gold in Japan


It's not exactly the same as the tale of Rumplestiltskin and spinning yarn into gold, but workers at a sewage treatment center in central Japan are getting close by finding sludge that is yielding more gold than the top mines in the world, according to a story by Reuters.

Officials in Nagano report that the high percentage of gold found at the Suwa sewage treatment plant was probably due to the large number of precision equipment that manufacturers in the area use with gold. It recently found 1,890 grams of gold per ton from incinerated sludge, compared to the 20 to 40 grams of gold per ton found at Japan's Hishikari Mine, one of the world's top gold mines.

Nagano is due 5 million yen, or $55,810 for the gold, minus expenses. It expects to earn about 15 million yen for the fiscal year to the end of March for the gold it has found in ashes of incinerated sludge. At least in Rumplestiltskin's tale, none of the characters had to get their elbows dirty digging around in sludge for their gold.

If gold prices rise, Nagano's new-found gold will be worth even more. Some gold industry officials expect the price this year to top the all-time high in 2008 of $1,030 an ounce, as investors turn to gold during the recession.