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Recovering gold

December 23, 2020 December 2020 No Comments

Currently most electronic waste (e-waste) heads into landfills, where it becomes a modern-day buried treasure. The gold discarded as e-waste worldwide is estimated to be worth an estimated NZ$37 billion per year alone.

Mint Innovation is reclaiming high value elements from e-waste, using chemistry and microbes to pull out gold, copper and palladium from the green printed circuit boards in old computers, and recycling the other components including plastic, ceramics and glass fibres into building materials

      The concentration of gold in printed circuit boards is 50-100 times higher than in gold ore, says R&D lead Dr Rob Staniland. As he explains it, Mint Innovation’s process dissolves the elemental gold, after which the bacteria then act like molecular sponges, sucking up the gold ions selectively.
        The startup won Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution at the Hi-Tech Awards this year, and is looking to expand its “urban mining” operations, building plants next year in Australia and the UK. There are well-paved roads to the company itself from university labs, with five MacDiarmid Institute alumni (including Staniland himself) now working for the company.

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