A New Zealand clean tech company has developed a pioneering process for transforming e-waste into precious metals

Mint Innovation, which received $80,000 from an NZ Government fund designed to support growth within the circular economy, is now trying to raise $4 million to build a commercial scale plant. The money will enable it scale up its process for extracting gold, copper and other metals from e-waste.

Dr Will Barker, CEO of Mint Innovation, said: “To give an indication of scale of what we can achieve from 3000 tonnes of printed circuit board currently going to landfill, we estimate recovering up to 600kgs of gold (estimated to be worth US$24.5 million at today’s rate). A further 600 tonnes of copper can also be recovered, displacing up to 12% of New Zealand’s copper imports. Palladium is another precious metal that we recover.”

Sustainably sourced microbes from the environment are key to Mint Innovation’s low-cost biotechnology technique.

Transforming e-waste into precious metals is also proving popular with the organisers of the 2020 Japan Olympics, with discarded devices donated from the public being used to make the medals.