As part of our ongoing interview series with founders from the Prospect Mining Studio 2020 cohort, we spoke with Michael Wyrsta who is the co-founder and CEO of Lixivia. The company enables its partners to capture more value from their minerals through hydrometallurgical technology that refines a large range of mineral mixtures including low-grade lime, dolime, various types of steel, and iron slag, rare earth metals, and lithium.

1. Why did you start Lixivia? Do you remember the moment you first thought of the idea?

I started Lixivia because there is a real need to clean up the minerals industry. Billions of tons of low-grade mineral waste pile up every year. It’s our mission to reduce, repurpose, and generally get more out of these minerals than we currently do. I have always been committed to sustainability and environmental issues—it’s imperative to our world today and for future generations.

2. How do you see Lixivia solving some of the mining industry’s biggest challenges?

One of the biggest problems in mining is the declining quality of minerals and ores. This is a problem because it requires more energy per ton of metal produced, more earth moved, more drilling, more water, and produces a larger environmental impact on local communities. Lixivia’s technology specifically addresses these problems by providing technology that can reduce freshwater consumption, selectively extract metals from tailings, and enhance local mineral resources.

3. How do you foresee frontier technology advancing the mineral mining and natural resource industries?

I see frontier technologies advancing mineral industries in several ways: increased productivity, enhanced recovery, and lower-environmental impact. Thus far, mineral and mining industries have not garnered the best technologists. This is still a major issue. We see efforts such as the one Newlab is spearheading as crucial to bringing new ideas, people, and technology to the mineral industry.

4. What do you see as your role in making mining safer and more sustainable?

Lixivia’s role is to provide new methods and processes to the mineral industry. By giving miners new options when it comes to resource allocation, secondary mining operations, or enhanced extraction chemistries we will have made the mining sector more sustainable. For example, Lixivia has developed a sustainable chemistry process to effectively use seawater instead of fresh water in copper flotation circuits. This would dramatically reduce the requirements for fresh water in areas that typically have no water at all.

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