Urban miner Mint Innovation collects Energy Award

Stuart Mason

Urban mining pioneer Mint Innovation has won the InnovationAus 2023 Award for Excellence in Energy and Renewables for its environmentally-friendly low-carbon solution to recycle precious metals from old tech devices.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence were presented on Wednesday night at a black-tie gala dinner at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.

The Energy and Renewables category was proudly sponsored by software developer Agile Digital.

The Award was presented on the night by Agile Digital Executive Director David Elliot.

Mint Innovation

Late last year, the Labor government passed the historic Climate Change Bill, legislating Australia’s goal to reduce emissions by 43 per cent and to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

By 2030, it’s been estimated that Australia will need the equivalent of about 40 7MW wind turbines installed every month, and 22,500 500W solar panels every day.

To reach this goal, Australia will need the help of its best innovators and entrepreneurs.

There are already a number of companies on the bleeding-edge of innovation in the energy and renewables field that have also found success around the world.

Mint Innovation took out the award in the Energy and Renewables category for its world-leading and innovative efforts to mine gold and other precious metals from old tech devices, to be reused in new devices.

The company was founded by Will Barker and Ollie Crush in 2016 and is headquartered in Auckland. It has a factory in Sydney where it transforms old tech devices such as smartphones into gold and other metals that can be used in new devices.

This is a low-carbon circular economy alternative to mining and ensures that no by-product goes to waste in the meantime.

Mint Innovation chief technology officer Johann Havenga said the wider community increasingly understands the opportunity of a more circular economy.

“The industry councils and even the households are realising that e-waste needs to go into a pathway of being recycled, instead of going to landfill – because then you need to spend a huge amount of dollars to get new metals out of the ground. And that’s really encouraging for us,” he said.

Mint Innovation is the first company in the world to use natural biomass and smart chemistry to extract these green metals from waste at a commercial level.

In its factory, old devices such as computers, smartphones, gaming consoles and washing machines are put on a conveyor belt, where a hammer mill breaks them down to the size of a sand granule. The chemical process then separates the metals and bakes them into a gold-laden ash.

This is sold back to manufacturers which use them in new electronics mainly, and other goods such as medical devices and jewellery.

Already Mint Innovation’s Sydney factory can process 3000 tonnes of circuit boards annually.

It is helping to solve a major problem around the world. The United Nations has estimated that 7 per cent of the world’s gold may be hidden in electronic waste, and just 20 per cent of this is actually recycled.

It also estimated that $80 billion in valuable metals are discarded in consumer waste each year.

The other finalists in the Energy and Renewables category were electrolyser system manufacturer Hysata, high-performance computing firm DUG and solar tech firm RayGen.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence are proudly supported by Investment NSW, AusIndustry, Australian Computer Society, Technology Council of Australia, Agile Digital, CSIRO, TechnologyOne, IP Australia, METS Ignited and Q-CTRL.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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