Researchers have completed the first survey of valuable materials they say are waiting to be mined from Europe's vast landfills and scrapyards.

A group of 17 organisations on Wednesday launched an online database for 'urban mining' detailing precious raw materials slumbering in discarded batteries, electronics and cars across the continent.

The project, known by the acronym ProSUM, aims to highlight where billions of euros (dollars) worth of aluminum, copper and gold could be retrieved each year.

There is certainly scope for something similar to happen in New Zealand, with around 200,000 tonnes of rubbish collected in Auckland alone each year.


The group, which includes the United Nations University, said vehicles are an increasingly rich source of raw materials including lithium — from electric cars — steel and magnesium.

Smartphones, meanwhile, have concentrations of gold that are more than 25 times as high as the richest underground ores and are far easier to extract.

This move comes off the back of an initiative in Oslo, Norway, which sees rubbish being used for the production of energy.

The approach has been so successful in recent years that the city has resorted to importing trash from elsewhere to meet the demand.