CEO's goal: World with no toxic waste
• Phoenix Tailings — Turning Mining Waste into Valuable Metals
This feature was first published in the March edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication
Related Story — Toxic Haste: Phoenix Tailings sees urgency of zero-waste
Special to Today Magazine
• CEO Nick Myers answered this exclusive Q&A on behalf of Phoenix Tailings
Address — 8B Henshaw Street • Woburn, MA
Editor’s Note — facility located 10 miles north of Boston
Email — email@example.com
Website — www.phoenixtailings.com
Social Media — LinkedIn page
Year Established — 2019
Manager + Other Principals:
• with age + company role + hometown
• Nick Myers — 30 CEO & Co-Founder Canton, Connecticut
• Anthony Balladon — 28 VP of Partnerships & Co-Founder Durban, South Africa
• Michelle Chao — 26 COO & Co-Founder Houston, Texas
• Tomas Villalon Jr. • PhD — 31 CTO & Co-Founder San Antonio, Texas
Number of employees and consultants:
16 full-time employees, 3 interns and 5 consultants — so 24 folks on the team.
Clean Mining and Metals Production
To Create A Zero-Waste World
Significance of the name Phoenix Tailings?
Tailings are the technical term for the mining waste material we work with. Phoenix is the legendary bird that is resurrected. Phoenix Tailings represents life being born from the ashes of the waste.
Why did you choose this profession?
I want to change the world for the better, and this is the best way I can make an impact to help people.
Most enjoyable aspect of your work?
Getting to work alongside some of the smartest and most passionate people in the world.
Your main obstacle, and how you overcome it?
Hiring and identifying the best people. Nobody who ever did anything great did it alone, and it’s the people around you who make you great. This is a saying that we truly embrace at Phoenix, and we take great effort to find the best possible people. Honestly, the way we overcome it is by setting this as an absolutely critical objective that the entire company works on.
Most satisfying accomplishment?
Getting our first round of funding and laboratory space. This moved us out of a backyard, and I still remember the feeling of this becoming something real.
Goals for the next five years?
Build an operational facility that demonstrates to the world that mining waste does not truly have to be waste.
What sets your business apart?
The people. We bring in the best people in the world to focus on a problem, and give them the opportunity to make a difference.
What do you appreciate most about the New England business climate?
The unparalleled ecosystem for talent. With MIT, Northeastern, Harvard, UConn and so many top schools in the area, the people here are passionate and smart!
What constructive change would you like to see in the New England business climate?
I’d like to see more support in navigating the government and local ecosystems. There is a lot of support available, but honestly, it’s just hard to find where everything is.
The business leader today who inspires you most?
Robert Friedland — founder, Ivanhoe Mines and Ivanhoe Capital • mining guru
Anecdote that provides a window into your company’s ethos:
We were not started like most deep technology companies, out of a fully funded lab. … Phoenix Tailings was started when I met Tomas Villalon at a Bible study about four years ago. We started talking about all the major challenges in the world, as one does late at night.
The major thing we focused on was the 173 billion metric tons of waste produced every year in the metals industry, enough to cover the entire state of California in a foot deep of sludge every year. Immediately, we said: “We cannot allow this to continue, and we need to find a solution to this problem.”
So he brought in Michelle Chao, I brought in Anthony Balladon, and together we built the first prototype in Tomas’ backyard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The dream is to be the world’s first clean mining and metals production company with zero waste and carbon emissions — our belief being that if we get together the most passionate, most brilliant and most incredible people, we will solve any challenge in the world. +