OSCEOLA, Ark. — A strong thunderstorm moved through Osceola Tuesday, but it didn’t dampen groundbreaking ceremonies for BlueOak Arkansas.
The new business will be located in the Osceola Industrial Park.
“I’ve heard of Silicon Valley all my life. Well, this is bringing Silicon Valley to Arkansas and Mississippi County. And I think that’s a really big deal,” said Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore.
BlueOak Arkansas will be the first facility of its kind in the U.S., dedicated to recovering high value precious metals from electronic scrap.
Former Vice President Al Gore is senior partner in Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, one of the firms investing in BlueOak Arkansas.
“All these smart phones and cellphones and computers and these circuit boards, they’re everywhere. And this facility really has a meaningful chance of making Osceola and Mississippi County the recycling capital of the world, ” said Gore.
BlueOak will hire 75 people when it opens.
The company was started by environmentalists looking for a way to address the millions of tons of e-waste generated around the world and turning that waste into profit through a process that doesn’t harm people or the environment.
Just one electronic circuit board contains anywhere from 300 to 1,000 grams of gold.
Techs at BlueOak Arkansas will grind the boards down and melt them down.
The process will use a plasma arc furnace to remove plastics and other impurities, but without polluting the air.
“And then what’s left is the copper, the gold, the silver, the cadmium, the platinum and those type of precious metals,” said John Correnti, chairman of BlueOak Arkansas.
Construction is expected to start soon.