Technology | History

A brief history of our technology from the 1980s to current day.

Bioleaching's History: 1980–Current Day

Bioleach technology first investigated in the mid 1980s at King’s College, London, England for the elimination of sulphur from coal.

Late 1980s
The technology, still in its infancy, migrates to Perth, Australia, in the late 1980s, where it is funded privately.

A public company, Gold Mines of Australia, builds the first BacTech bioleach plant at the Youanmi Mine in Western Australia. Bioleaching provides additional mine life of three years processing refractory arsenic gold concentrates from the mine. The mine was closed in 1997 due to low gold prices, but BacTech had its first successful commercial application.

A public company, Allstate Mining, licenses and installs the 2nd BacTech bioleach plant to process refractory arsenic ore from the Beaconsfield Mine in Tasmania (Australia). The Beaconsfield plant operated successfully for over 14 years.

A Chinese company, Shandong Tarzan Biogold Co. Ltd. (“Biogold”), licenses and installs a bioleach plant capable of treating 100 tonnes of concentrate per day from mines both in China and abroad, demonstrating the diversity of the technology for treating non-homogenous feeds from various metallurgical backgrounds. In 2008, the current owner, Sino Gold Mining Limited, doubled the capacity of the current plant to 200 tonnes per day.

Industrias Peñoles S.A. de C.V. (“Peñoles”), the world’s largest silver producer, contributed USD$5 million to build a demonstration plant in suburban Monterrey, Mexico, to test the technology’s ability to treat dirty or complex base metal concentrates. The findings of the study proved the benefits of bioleaching with respect to (a) neutralizing deleterious elements in the concentrate, and (b) eliminating costly transportation of concentrates to smelters, thereby reducing the environmental footprint left by smelting and truck haulage usage.