Environmental Planning and Waste Management Sydney

High Tech Plant Approved in Smithfield for Recovering Precious Metals from Circuit Boards

Australia’s most high-tech processing plant for ‘mining’ precious metals from printed circuit boards from electronic devices will be built shortly at 55 Long St, Smithfield in Sydney’s west. This development will be the country’s first dedicated plant for recycling circuit boards, which are normally sent overseas for recycling.

The project is being developed by Mint Biomining, a New Zealand cleantech company, that has developed world-leading technology for recovering valuable metals from waste streams through a unique biometallurgical approach. A key aspect is the use of biomassthat isselective for specific metals. When combined with low-cost chemistry, this allows for value to be captured from waste near its point of collection in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

In 2019, a demonstration plant was built in in East Tamaki, Auckland to trial and prove the technology can work at a pre-commercial scale whilst meeting stringent standards for health and safety. With the success of this plant, the first full-scale plant will be built in Smithfield, with a second to follow thereafter in the north-west of England.

The high-tech processing plant will be constructed in an existing warehouse building. The facility will process up to 10 tonnes of printed circuit boards per day, or up to 3,000 tonnes per annum. The development will involve the construction of bulk chemical storage tanks, specialised leaching and processing plant, kiln, fire upgrades, ventilation system upgrades, air scrubbers, bunding, secondary containment bunding for process tanks, a QA/QC laboratory, other building upgrades and parking for 25 staff and visitors. The plant will be operated 24 hours, 7 days per week.

The team at Jackson Environment and Planning Pty Ltd are very pleased to have played a major part in the site selection, due diligence, planning, development and architectural design for the project, which was approved by the Sydney Central City Planning Panel in January 2022.

Dr Mark Jackson, Director of Jackson Environment and Planning said “We are really excited to have worked with Mint Biomining in scoping, guiding and leading the planning process for this innovative infrastructure project.”

“Our team work closely with Cumberland Council to ensure that all key environmental and planning matters were addressed in the application. With a project of this type, being the first full scale commercial plant, we had to work very closely with Mint Biomining to collect, evaluate and establish processes for best practice chemicals handling and storage, bulk chemicals transport and unloading, fire safety, management of air emissions from the chemical process, mitigation of noise and operational environmental management procedures to ensure the safe and effective operation of the plant” said Dr Jackson.

Dr Will Barker, CEO for Mint Biomining said “We are thrilled with receiving planning consent for building our first full scale plant for processing printed circuit boards in Sydney. This is a world first for a project of this type, and will make a critical contribution to driving the circular economy for electronic waste in Australia.”

He also said “The team at Jackson environment and Planning played a crucial role in vetting appropriate sites for our development project, guiding us through the complex planning and regulatory approval process for our project with planning and regulatory authorities, including the NSW EPA. Through their leadership and guidance, we have secured a significant approval, helping us to commence the global rollout of our cutting-edge technology.”

“We will be investing over $12 million to build the plant, helping to support local jobs and manufacturing businesses in construction and maintenance of the facility. Once the site is operational, a number of direct and permanent full-time equivalent jobs will be created by the development when operating at maximum capacity” said Dr Barker.

More information on the project is available from the Mint Biomining website, https://www.mint.bio/.

To see how we can help you to gain approvals and licenses to build your industrial facility, please contact us on (02) 8056 1849 or email us at admin@jacksonenvironment.com.au.

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