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A Ghoulish Business

As a precious metals refiner, Leon Toffel is used to dealing with fine dust. But some years ago, when he received globules of molten metal in the post, he realised there was a new market to be mined. Toffel's new client was a retiring crematorium worker.

Leon Toffel estimates that five per cent of his business comes from sources in crematoria. "We processed it like any other scrap," he said "When people retire, that's a classic time when they pass on stuff . To a certain extent, it's like a little pension pay-out."

In just two years, six workers at a crematorium in Nuremberg earned more than £100,000 by selling gold teeth to a local jeweller. Under German law, they could not be charged with theft because the gold was not said to belong to anyone after the process of cremation. For some, the story raised painful associations with The Holocaust.

The New Gold Rush

BHP Billiton will tomorrow announce that it estimates the reserves of gold at its Australian Olympic Dam mine are more than 50% bigger than previously thought, raising speculation that it is sitting on the largest gold mine in the world. Situated 330 miles north of Adelaide, South Australia, Olympic Dam contains deposits of several minerals and is already the home to the world's largest uranium mine.
BHP shares hit record levels with feverish expectations that a recent drilling programme had vastly exceeded expectations. BHP has grown in value on the back of the China-fuelled commodity boom. Its stock market value has reached $200 billion (£99 billion), compared with $30 billion five years ago. Yesterday the share price rose 81p to £17.37.

The price of gold neared a 28-year peak yesterday as investors continued to buy into the commodity as a hedge against a falling dollar and the potential for a serious economic downturn in the US. The precious metal hit $736.05 per troy ounce at on…