The Ecuadorian government is on track to grant an environmental permit for BacTech Environmental Corp’s new bioleaching plant. in September, the company said.
BacTech Environmental Corp. (BAC:CSE;BCCEF:OTC;OBT1:FRA) is on track to obtain the environmental permit for its new bioleaching plant which will open next year in Tenguel, Ecuador.
The company has reviewed and updated the technical observations made in its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and uploaded the document to the country’s Ministry of Environment for formal approval of the study. The company said the permit could arrive as early as September.
The permit would validate the project and make it more attractive to potential partners and investors, said Chris Temple, editor and publisher of The domestic investor.
“The significance of environmental permits being anything but a done deal is that maybe it will light a fire under one or more potential sources of money, so they don’t miss out on that,” Temple said. Streetwise Reports.
The Equateur region is also not new to mining. “It’s an area that has a mining culture, and now you have a business that’s going to improve the environment and improve the wages of the average person,” he said.
BacTech and the government signed an investment protection agreement (IPA) in May, granting the company a 12-year tax holiday and international arbitration for disputes.
The IPA covers $95.5 million of mill construction and gold activity through 2024, plus additional investment and expansion.
Ecuador approved BacTech’s building permit in March. In July, the company announced that it had signed letters of intent with several mining cooperatives to deliver up to 58 tonnes per day (tpd) of gold concentrate for processing at the new plant. The agreements relate to arsenopyrite gold concentrates from three mines and processors.
Using bacteria of natural origin, bioleaching makes it possible to work with lower-grade ores and to recover metals from tailings sites and mines. As the company likes to say on its website, “Our bugs eat rocks.”
How? Chairman and CEO Ross Orr said bacteria chew through and oxidize sulphides in rock like mortar in a brick wall. Once this mortar is gone, the wall crumbles.
Bioleaching was attempted commercially in South Africa in 1986. Over 20 plants have been built worldwide since then.
“Virtually no pushback”
Orr said the company is currently working with local communities to complete the final socialization phase of the environmental license application.
The ESIA submitted by the company includes studies on the environmental, social, economic and cultural implications of the project.
Orr said Ecuadorian officials told them it would take about eight months for the permit to be issued, and it’s on track. Local reaction has also been positive, he said.
“We’ve had virtually no pushback,” Orr said. “The locals say, you know, ‘When do I start my job?'”
It helps that the company is not building a mine but a facility that will clean up mine waste, he said.
“The winners will be the people who live there because you’re not dumping arsenic in the rivers,” Orr said. “We are a processing plant that is on the surface, and everything is contained.”
The next phase of the ESIA process is to organize presentations, hold public meetings and answer questions from the community.
Lots of feed for the mill
To add to the feed going into the plant, there are 90 small mines in the area that produce significant amounts of arsenic along with gold in the area. The plant would produce approximately 30,900 ounces of Au per year. There is potential for expansion; the total availability of materials in the region is estimated at 250 tonnes per day.
The plant would have a pre-tax profit of about $10.9 million and a payback period of two years, according to data from EPCM Consultores.
BacTech has also opened a pilot facility to recover nickel, cobalt, iron and geopolymer product from pyrrhotite concentrates produced over the past 100 years in Sudbury, Ontario.
The company has a market capitalization of C$14.8 million with 172 million shares outstanding. It is trading within a 52-week range of CA$0.17 and CA$0.08.
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