OSCEOLA, Ark. (AP) — A business that recycles precious metals from junked electronics equipment broke ground Tuesday in Osceola, where the company promised to bring 75 high-paying jobs to work at the $35 million plant.
The ceremony drew former Vice President Al Gore, who is a partner in the Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers venture capital firm, which is investing in the business, BlueOak Arkansas.
Workers at the plant in northeast Arkansas will extract copper, gold, palladium and silver from old computer circuit boards, discarded cell phones and other electronics.
The Blytheville Courier News reported (http://bit.ly/1hG6obz ) that John Correnti, who spearheaded the effort to bring a $1.2 billion steel mill to Osceola, is on BlueOak's board and helped bring the business to the community.
"We hope to turn Osceola and Mississippi County into the recycling capital of the world, and we're going to do it in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner," Correnti said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Globally, there are 1.5 billion cell phones sold every year, and they get recycled every eight to 12 months. They're e-waste to you, but to BlueOak, they're gold, silver and platinum."
Gore told the invitation-only gathering that BlueOak was launched by environmentalists who wanted a way to responsively dispose of e-waste.
"If you want to get 10 ounces of gold from ore, you have to mine 100 tons, but you can also get 10 ounces of gold from 1 ton of used circuit boards," Gore said. "Osceola has literally struck gold today."
Company officials said the firm will be the first of its kind in the United States, though several similar plants operate in other countries.
Information from: Blytheville Courier News, http://www.couriernews.net