Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Coming Collapse of Gold

Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
 Gold has been a store of value since the dawn of civilization, but that's about to change.  Gold prices are going to plummet in the future - permanently.  I can't give you  a date, but I can tell you how it will happen.

In all of human history we have managed to pan, blast, and pry about 176,000 metric tonnes of gold from mother earth.  While the oceans are estimated contain about 20 million tons of dissolved gold.  The gold is very low in concentration, about one milligram in a ton of sea water.

Although many people have tried to extract the gold from the sea, none have done so successfully.  The most famous was German chemist Fritz Haber who tried to pan the oceans for gold to repay Germany's war debt.  Many swindlers have tried to sell the idea, but only succeeded in mining gullible rich people.

Photo by US Mint
 But that will change in the future.  A few methods may be possible to rob Poseidon of his wealth.
1.  Microbes are known to take dissolved gold and produce solid gold.  Pedomicrobium 
is an example as is Delftia acidovorans . These could be genetically altered to increase their yield.

2.  Designing sheets of materials that have an affinity for gold and placing those in ocean currents.  The sheets are anchored to the sea floor and recovered months later after filtering the precious metal.  Japan has used a process like this to test the recovery of Uranium..  Uranium is much more abundant in ocean water, 4.5 billion metric ton, but the concept is the same.
3.  Plants like kelp could be genetically engineered to have an affinity for gold and then be harvested.  Although this solution has many obvious issues.  Otters with gold-capped teeth anyone?
Photo by Bullion Vault

As material science progresses, it is just a matter of time before we can start to pan the oceans for gold.  It may take 10 years, or 50, but eventually someone will crack the code.  When they do, vast new quantities will pour into the world's markets permanently depressing the gold market.

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