Current Projects

BacTech continually explores opportunities for employing bioleaching to process tailings left behind by previous mining operations. Over the past year, the Company has assessed projects in countries as diverse as Peru, Ecuador and Sardinia, as well as Canada and the U.S. In addition, BacTech has become involved in the potential use of bioleaching in the elimination of mercury use by artisanal miners.

Assessing a project for financial viability is time consuming and many issues — such as the tailings’ metallurgy along with the economical availability of key services like hydro, water and transportation, to name a few — need to be evaluated before the Company can move forward.

This section contains information on projects we believe hold real promise and which we are investigating to assess their ability to return a profit while also delivering an environmental benefit.

Telamayu, Bolivia

In February 2012, Ross Orr travelled to La Paz, Bolivia to visit the Telamayu tailings near the town of Atocha in southwest Bolivia.

Telamayu is a mill site that has been processing material from local mines for 100 years. What strikes you at first sight, is the amount of existing infrastructure, albeit somewhat dated. The presence of a power substation and an operating railroad offer a great head start on the plans we have for the tailings. In addition, there is a local, trained workforce and considerable amounts of silver, copper and tin. The tailings are controlled by COMIBOL (Corporación Minera de Bolivia), the state-owned mining company for Bolivia.

Although there are two stockpiles, our work is focused on the tailings pile next to the old mill. We noticed copper had been dissolved in some surface water on the tails, illustrating the presence of acid from the sulphides oxidizing.

Back in 2010, COMIBOL employees manually dug 4, 10 meter holes and material was bagged at one meter intervals down to the bottom of the tailings pile. They literally used shovels and ladders to go down to the 10 meter level. This material had been sitting in the old mill housing for seven years and provided easy access for BacTech to obtain a 200 kg sample.

In May 2012, we enlisted the services of SGS Bolivia S.A. to oversee the sampling of some 2,000 bags from the exercise described in the previous paragraph. A pipe was used to extract a sample from every bag and a larger sample of 200 kg was created. This sample was bagged and secured at site before making its way to Lima, Peru. From there, the samples were shipped to Inspectorate Exploration and Mining Services Ltd. in Vancouver, Canada, where assays of the material were produced.

The results we received were extremely positive. What we could ascertain were the following;

1. In the past, the mill was set up to recover silver from very high head grade material of over 300 oz/t. This explains the high level of silver, 9 oz/t, we assayed in the tailings. As a percentage of the head grade, they only missed recovering 3% of the silver

2. The mill was set up for tin, silver and zinc recovery, which meant that the copper was passed through. This may be a result of the price of copper in the earlier years being low and of little value. The assayed copper came back as 2.24%. To put this in perspective, there are mines going into production today at 1/3 of this grade.

As of May 24, 2016, BacTech and COMIBOL have signed an Association Contract for the project. In exchange for providing the capital for the project, the construction and the operations for the plant, BacTech will receive 100% of the cash flow from the project for 18 months, or until such time as the debt against the project is retired, or whichever comes first. After completing the repayment of the debt, the project splits into a 55/45 ownership of the cash flow in COMIBOL’s favour. BacTech has hired Jose Cordova, a former President of COMIBOL (see BacTech news release dated April 15, 2015), as the in-country manager for Bolivia.

BacTech engaged Leduc Drilling of La Paz to drill 57 holes to provide material for assaying and gravity/flotation testwork. Alongside, Bumigeme Engineering has begun work on a NI 43-101 report on the contained metal in the tailings. This Phase 1, as it is called, is a technical evaluation of the project and will lead to Phase 2, which is the construction phase. Phase 2 will depend on the time that is taken to receive an environmental permit from the government.  The following charts present the results of the 57 hole program.

Holes 1 – 10

Hole From To Length (m) % Recovery Ag g/t Sn % Sol. Cu % Cu Total %
f6 0.50 11.90 11.40 76.00 264.00 2.58 0.16 0.28
f7 0.34 11.99 11.65 90.10 394.42 2.04 0.44 0.64
g5 0.30 11.78 11.48 84.70 382.73 1.44 0.25 1.83
g5x 0.00 12.20 12.20 10.,00 394.32 1.53 1.06 1.84
g7 0.40 11.79 11.39 83.60 533.45 1.80 0.37 0.70
h5 0.50 12.10 11.60 98.20 473.60 1.61 0.76 1.60
h6 0.44 11.85 10.41 59.20 195.54 1.50 0.56 0.80
h7 0.40 12.10 11.71 89.00 327.60 1.49 0.47 1.54
i5 0.10 13.20 13.10 100.00 434.30 1.40 0.51 1.17
i7 0.60 13.82 13.22 84.00 383.34 1.90 0.32 0.71
Average     11.82 86.48 378.33 1.73 0.49 1.11

Holes 11-33

Hole From To Length (m) % Recovery Ag g/t Sn % Sol. Cu % Cu Total %
d6 0,45 11,65 11,20 98,44 253,29 2,07 0,54 1,08
d7 0,40 11,90 11,50 74,40 149,04 0,66 0,35 0,52
d9 0,20 10,80 10,60 100,00 151,26 1,39 1,19 1,40
e6 0,30 10,07 9,77 67,26 209,18 2,09 0,16 0,24
e7 0,30 11,87 11,57 86,78 174,31 1,75 0,18 0,25
e8 0,40 11,16 10,76 100,00 215,31 1,38 0,92 1,07
e9 0,35 11,99 11,64 99,02 226,63 1,91 0,21 0,59
f3 1,15 10,65 9,50 100,00 285,63 1,17 0,45 0,82
f4 0,20 11,45 11,25 100,00 269,69 1,30 1,00 2,74
f5 0,28 14,70 14,42 100,00 249,95 1,03 0,99 3,19
f9 0,30 11,87 11,57 97,26 276,24 1,34 0,24 0,41
g3 0,13 12,94 12,81 100,00 290,06 1,11 0,32 0,54
g4 0,37 13,52 13,15 100,00 381,25 1,57 1,16 1,65
g6 0,40 11,16 10,76 72,60 156,56 1,52 0,27 0,31
g8 0,35 11,99 11,64 86,27 311,45 1,78 0,71 1,38
g9 1,15 10,65 9,50 94,07 346,14 1,47 0,27 0,46
h3 0,10 13,01 12,91 100,00 422,77 1,56 0,45 0,64
h4 1,28 14,48 13,20 100,00 424,50 1,27 1,21 1,82
h8 0,50 11,45 10,95 96,70 327,66 1,64 0,26 0,95
i3 0,38 14,73 14,35 100,00 584,34 1,18 1,08 1,86
i4 0,28 14,70 14,42 95,86 449,49 1,34 0,78 1,97
i6 0,70 12,70 12,00 84,30 226,15 1,75 0,13 0,23
i8 0,25 11,95 11,70 97,01 345,76 1,51 0,35 0,56
Average 11,79 93,48 292,46 1,47 0,57 1,07

 

Holes 34-57

Hole From To Length (m) % Recovery Ag g/t Sn % Sol. Cu % Cu Total %
f8 0,24 10,31 10,07 100,00 252,01 1,88 0,53 0,83
c8 0,30 12,30 12,00 100,00 212,10 0,69 3,45 8,00
b8 0,30 11,75 11,45 100,00 290,17 1,24 0,24 0,48
b7 0,40 10,70 10,30 100,00 176,01 1,14 1,01 1,34
b6 0,50 10,80 10,30 100,00 205,82 0,77 1,06 1,24
b5 0,40 11,50 11,10 100,00 274,30 0,84 0,38 0,55
b3 0,38 12,48 12,10 100,00 208,14 0,98 0,13 0,24
c2 0,10 10,01 9,91 100,00 259,18 1,35 0,72 1,09
b2 0,33 12,48 12,15 98,00 260,72 0,75 0,73 0,88
a2 0,32 12,22 11,90 98,00 198,91 0,74 0,86 1,03
c9 0,35 8,55 8,20 100,00 160,04 0,93 1,53 1,87
c7 0,33 8,96 8,63 100,00 126,98 0,62 0,74 1,41
e3 0,23 10,91 10,68 100,00 221,09 0,59 0,80 1,15
e4 0,44 10,81 10,37 98,00 274,25 0,68 1,47 2,84
e5 0,40 13,30 12,90 100,00 311,19 1,15 1,25 1,85
d5 0,42 12,87 12,45 100,00 247,53 0,93 0,52 1,02
d4 0,33 14,14 13,81 100,00 141,26 0,74 0,77 1,26
d8 0,19 13,38 13,19 100,00 185,32 1,31 1,78 3,57
d3 0,28 10,14 9,86 100,00 211,12 0,85 1,44 1,93
d2 0,10 11,63 11,53 100,00 191,22 0,73 0,59 0,64
c3 0,38 10,13 9,75 100,00 234,10 1,28 0,22 0,30
c4 0,30 11,24 10,94 100,00 159,49 0,70 0,48 0,83
c5 0,38 10,97 10,59 100,00 219,07 0,88 0,34 0,66
c6 0,24 12,16 11,92 100,00 275,11 1,43 0,47 0,85
Average 11,13 99,74 219,27 0,93 0,91 1,52
Ecuador

Late in 2015, BacTech management was introduced to Dr. Marcello Veiga from the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Dr. Veiga, it turned out, had been a champion of the elimination of mercury use by the artisanal or small miners in South America. The use of mercury to liberate gold and silver has led to some of the worst environmental situations, especially in Ecuador and Colombia, where artisanal mining is rampant.

Dr. Veiga was correct in pushing the miners to sell their output to flotation plants that he was instrumental in establishing. The issue that arose was concentrates were being produced that eliminated the use of mercury, but the concentrates held very low value due to the incredibly high levels of arsenic. Over the past several years, much of this concentrate has ended up being purchased by Asian, Chinese in particular, buyers who allegedly blend these high arsenic concentrates with low arsenic material to allow for roasting/burning. It is important to note that in every jurisdiction in the world, there is a cap on the amount of arsenic that can be burned, a) in a concentrate, and b) collectively over the course of a year.

What BacTech learned on an October 2016 trip to Quito was very encouraging. In the past few months, a temporary export ban was placed on arsenopyrite concentrates heading for Asia. For the most part, the reason behind this was to encourage the “illegal” small miners to become legal. This would allow for taxation to be applied on material that was leaving the country duty free. It also allows for taxation on individuals which, in turn, allows the government to put money back into clean water, power and other amenities.

We believe that a “made at home” solution would provide multiple benefits, not only to the people of Ecuador, but also to the government. These can be listed as follows;

1. Provide a better price to the local floatation plants for their product
2. Eliminate logistical costs for export of concentrate to Asia
3. Assist the Ecuadorian government in establishing legal mining amongst the artisanal miners
4. Provide increased skilled employment in Ecuador, replacing work done in Asia
5. Establish a new tax base for the government

The first order of business as we move forward in Ecuador was to identify an area where we would like to site a bioleach plant. The area chosen is Ponce Enriquez, mostly due to the abundance of arsenopyrite located in the area. Second, we collected a 150 kg sample of concentrate from the local producers to begin bioleach work here in Canada at Laurentian University under the guidance of our own Dr. Paul Miller. This 4-6 month process will allow us the comfort of knowing which bacteria work best at liberating the gold, as well as stabilizing the arsenic. It will also allow us to engineer a bioleach plant based on processing material from this area.  In connection with this test program BacTech and Laurentian have received a $75,000 grant from the Ontario Centre of Excellence. BacTech’s commitment is to match these funds with 50% cash and 50% in-kind. The results of the program should be available over the balance of 2017.

Given that the market for arsenopyrite concentrates is relatively small (<100 tpd of concentrate), we will start with a smaller plant (30-40 tpd), to establish ourselves in the local market. Since bioleaching is modular, we can expand the plant should the demand be present.

We would expect the bioleach test work to begin in September.  As in all cases, so much depends on our ability to raise equity to finance our test work. One of the reasons we are active in Bolivia is the project’s ability to provide early cash flow from a relatively small capital expenditure.

Finally, the success of a bioleach plant treating arsenic gold concentrates in Ecuador should open up an abundance of opportunities in other countries where arsenopyrite and artisanal mining is present (Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, to name a few).

Past Projects

Snow Lake Arsenic Stockpile

In December 2011, BacTech Environmental signed a contract with the Mines Branch of the Manitoba Department of Innovation, Energy and Mines to remediate a stockpile of arsenopyrite concentrate located in the community of Snow Lake in Northern Manitoba.

BacTech proposed a “no cost to the taxpayer” approach to the clean up. The Company would have recovered payable metals for its own account from the stockpile, while stabilizing the contained arsenic. The Company’s bio-oxidation technology has been used successfully in the gold industry for many years to aid the extraction of gold from arsenical concentrates, while stabilizing arsenic values into a benign form.

BacTech’s interest in the project stemmed from test work completed in 2010, in which bioleaching technology was determined to be well suited for the stabilization of the high levels of arsenic in the stockpile.

The Snow Lake stockpile was created in the 1950s as a by-product of gold production from the Nor Acme Mine. Due to the refractory nature of the ore and its high arsenic levels, it was decided at that time to float an arsenopyrite concentrate that would be processed at a later date. Based on an independent NI 43-101 report , the stockpile is estimated at approximately 300,000 tonnes, with an average grade of approximately 9.7 grams per tonne of gold. The stockpile is 6 m to 10 m high and encompasses an approximate area of 19,500 m2.

Since signing the contract with the government, BacTech engaged the services of Micon International Limited to provide an independent Economic Study for the proposed reclamation. In August 2012, the study was completed and preliminary results released. The final study was posted to Sedar in October (www.sedar.com) and is also available on this website in the Snow Lake NI 43-101 section.

There are three inherent problems with the Snow Lake project that, unfortunately, could not be overcome. First, the price of gold dropped dramatically thereby reducing the value of the concentrate going into the bioleach circuit.

Second, the iron to arsenic ratio, which should be 3:1 to make a benign ferric arsenate product, was only 1.8:1 The additional cost of adding ferric iron to the process raised the cost per ounce of production dramatically.

Finally, limestone, which is usually ubiquitous, apparently isn’t so in Manitoba. Bioleaching uses a lot of limestone to neutralize the acidic nature of the liquids in the tanks. The closest source to Snow Lake was 400 km away. Normally, $5-$10 per tonne, we were quoted prices, delivered to Snow Lake, of over $70 per tonne. The combination of these three factors led to the Company’s departure from the project.

We do want to go on record and state that the people of Snow lake were very welcoming to us and assisted us at every opportunity. There is an answer out there for this clean up but it will not be bioleaching.

Snow Lake NI 43-101

Technical Report: Gold Residue Stockpile, Snow Lake, Manitoba: Mineral Resource Estimation. Effective date: July 20, 2011

Consent of Qualified Person to File Technical Report on Sedar

Certificate of Qualified Person

News Release December 9, 2011: BacTech Files NI 43-101 Technical Report for Snow Lake Gold Residue Stockpile Resource Estimate

News Release, October 17, 2011: BacTech Announces NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate for Snow Lake Gold Residue Stockpile

Report: NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment Study for the BacTech Snow Lake Reclamation Project, Snow Lake, Manitoba. Effective date: August 27, 2012

Consents of Qualified Persons to File Report on Sedar

Certificates of Qualified Persons

News Release October 12, 2012: BacTech Files Preliminary Economic Assessment Study

News Release August 27, 2012: BacTech Releases Positive Preliminary Economic Assessment on the Remediation of the Snow Lake Arsenopyrite Residue Stockpile and Announces Private Placement

Environmental Assessment Report submitted to the Environmental Approvals Branch, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, December 2012, Posted for public comment February 14, 2013

Notice of Environment Act Proposal, Environmental Approvals Branch, Conservation and Water Stewardship, February 14, 2013

Show Snow Lake Reports and Applications

Notice of Environment Act Proposal
Environmental Approvals Branch
Conservation and Water Stewardship
February 2013 

Environmental Assessment Report: Remediation Project
BacTech Environmental Corporation
December 2012
Submitted to Environmental Approvals Branch
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship