I, for one, am looking forward to putting 2019 behind us.

Let’s be frank. It was not a positive year for BacTech. Last year BacTech railed against the pot stocks and their siphoning investment dollars away from the resource sector. Well, the train wreck for them is in full swing and hopefully we will see a renewed interest in the resource sector in the new decade. 

As you know, BacTech walked away from the Telamayu project in Bolivia for a number of reasons. First and foremost was our inability to recover tin. Tin, on paper, accounted for 50% of the contained value in the tailings. We tried twice to get improved recoveries, but we were unable to unlock the value. Second, and I guess in hindsight we are somewhat exonerated, the inability to raise capital for the project due to the market’s disdain for Bolivia. We underestimated this but the way things have turned politically I guess we can say we cut our future losses given the current state of affairs. For those who don’t follow the country, Evo Morales, a President who had overstayed his term not once but twice, was forced to flee to Mexico on the back of fraudulent election results. People I have spoken with in the country are concerned about the future path of the country. 

So, where does BacTech go from here? Looking at the share price I would say there is only one way to go and that is up. We continue to move along the idea of setting up a plant in Ponce Enriquez, Ecuador. You may recall the area is home to over 90 small mines with many containing seriously high levels of arsenic. The arsenic suppresses the prices that Asian smelters are willing to pay the miners, with concentrates leaving the country for less than 65% of the contained gold value. Recently it was brought to our attention that the government has cracked down on concentrate traders who were understating the amount of gold in the concentrates to avoid paying the government royalty. This in turn has led to the government insisting on state oversight of the assay work…..at the expense of the miner. We have also heard of producers now refusing to deal with the Asian buyers due to unsatisfactory business arrangements. The time is ripe for what we have planned. We have identified 30 tonnes per day of high arsenic concentrate that we hope to do test work on starting early in the new year. If we are able to not only unlock the gold value but also stabilize the arsenic, we have the basis of a very captive market. Again, this type of problem is not exclusive to Ponce Enriquez as there are many areas where arsenic causes havoc with the prices paid to small and large miners.

Finally, the time has come to address the fact that bioleaching is an effective way to deal with arsenic should it be found in tailings, concentrates or actual mines. We need to expand our product offering and perhaps get back in the mainstream of mining. As much as people turn up their nose with respect to mining, look around the room to remind yourself of the industry’s importance in our daily lives. At least we are providing an environmental approach to processing material that would normally be treated in a less than suitable fashion. 

Mining will continue to be asked to deliver metal to the market for use in our daily lives. Our goal is to do it in a responsible fashion. Finding the suitable project, after several setbacks, is still our number 1 focus. Our goal this coming year is to identify a potential project using bioleaching or another technology that will generate a much-needed cash flowing project.


M. Ross Orr