In the latest installment of Finboot's interview series, Juan Miguel, the CEO and co-founder,welcomed Nicholas Myers, the CEO and co-founder of Phoenix Tailings. The conversation focused on the pivotal role of innovative sustainability initiatives in the metals industry.
Phoenix Tailings, a leader in the production of metals essential for rare earth magnets, is taking significant strides towards minimizing its environmental footprint with a commitment to zero waste and zero direct carbon emissions production.
You can watch the entire interview, which lasts about 20 minutes, or read the main takeaway from it below in this blog post.
Phoenix Tailings was founded around five years ago whenNicholas Myers met Dr. Tomas Villalón, a PhD graduate with a background in materials science. They started discussing the significant problems in the world, particularly the production of raw materials needed for clean energy technology like wind turbines and electric vehicles.
These materials are often produced in areas that don't have the same environmental or societal standards as the United States. This leads to substantial waste, carbon emissions, and societal issues. These problems will only intensify as demand increases. Notably, Tesla alone is projected to consume 68% of the world's neodymium supply by 2028, illustrating the scale of demand for these metals.
To address this,Myers, Dr. Tomas Villalón, Michelle Chao, and Anthony Ballad on pooled their life savings —all $7000 — and built the first prototype in a Cambridge, Massachusetts backyard. This marked the start of their mission to build the world's first fully clean mining and metals production company with zero waste and zero direct carbon emissions.
The company, now at the Series B stage with 22 full-time employees, primarily produces metal and metal alloys, processing the metals from tailings, the waste product of mining. As the sole producer of final-stage rare earth metals in North America, their products contribute to the manufacturing of high-performance neodymium iron boron magnets, which power numerous technologies. Phoenix Tailings provides a sustainable alternative to the traditional process, which produces 2000 units of toxic waste for every unit of rare earths. The goal is ambitious — eliminating waste and carbon emissions entirely, not just reducing them.
Nicholas Myers of Phoenix Tailings discusses the challenges faced by the metal production industry due to China's near-total monopoly, which leads to predatory pricing and environmental disregard. He emphasizes Phoenix Tailings' commitment to responsible operation, environmental protection, and societal respect. Myers Underscores the need for US-made innovative technology, government aid, andpartner support to manage price volatility and investor risk.
Nicholas Myers,co-founder of Phoenix Tailings, advocates for the use of digital technologies in the industry to address challenges such as price clarity for key metals,market transparency, and traceability. He cites digital advancements in the diamond and cobalt sectors as examples. He also emphasizes the role of digital tools in enhancing process automation, optimizing production, and reducing emissions, as exemplified by Phoenix Tailings' use of machine learning algorithms.
Juan, considering his experience, acknowledges the dual role of digital technologies in improving operational efficiency and providing transparency and traceability, reflecting the trend of businesses embracing digital transformation for sustainable operations.
In the interview conclusion, Nicholas stresses the importance of innovation in achieving net-zero emissions in the metals industry. He urges companies to be forward thinking, embrace new technologies, and depart from conventional methods. He insists that all employees, irrespective of their position, play a crucial role in driving this transformative shift towards sustainability by endorsing and applying sustainable practices.
Stay tuned for more on Phoenix Tailings' sustainability journey by visiting their website and following their social media channels.