This zero-waste process expands the availability of minerals essential for clean energy technologies
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Spotted: Demand for mining products, particularly rare earth elements and others used in electric batteries and solar panels, is predicted to grow eight per cent a year between now and 2035, when it will reach 466 kilotonnes annually. If that demand is met or pursued, the volume of waste generated will also increase.
Phoenix Tailings in the US is working to convert that waste into something valuable and useful. Using clean energy to power its processes, the company extracts essential minerals and metals from the waste left by traditional mining techniques.
Sustainability researchers recently concluded that the proximity of many of the world’s largest mining waste storage facilities to environmentally protected areas “threaten biodiversity all over the world.” So, by making use of the thousands of kilogrammes of mining waste already in storage, Phoenix Tailings has the opportunity to contribute to the protection of many of the world’s most important regions of biodiversity.
The company’s processes are zero waste, with every extraction cycle unlocking more value from an ore; anything not extracted in the initial cycle is sent through the process again until nothing remains. The systems are modular, making them transportable and ideal for use in even the more remote mining waste locations.
Phoenix Tailings currently provides Ferro-Dysprosium Alloy (DyFe), Neodymium (Nd), and Dysprosium (Dy): three of the most important minerals in the production of permanent magnets used in wind turbines, jet engines, and electric vehicles. With a pilot site in New York already running, the company plans to expand to other waste sites to begin extraction of other ores, including iron oxide, precious metals, and aggregates.
Innovators are increasingly turning their attention to the improvement of particularly polluting industries such as mining. Examples in Springwise’s library include old oil wells being used to store renewable energy and using regenerative mining to clean up ecosystems damaged by previous mining practices.
Written By: Keely Khoury