Green tech company BacTech Environmental Corp. (BAC:CSE;BCCEF:OTC;OBT1:FRA) announced Thursday it has filed a patent application for a new bioleaching process to recover iron and nickel-cobalt from mining waste, converting it into "green" iron and materials for electric vehicle batteries.
As BacTech says on its website, "Our bugs eat rocks." Bioleaching uses naturally occurring bacteria, harmless to humans and the environment, to extract precious and base metals from difficult to treat ores, concentrates, and tailings.
For some companies, using phrases like "environmentally friendly" might be trendy. But Chris Temple, editor and publisher of The National Investor, said BacTech is the real deal.
"This is a company by its very nature that is cleaning up environmental hazards, and at the same time recovering gold and other metals and, in some instances, rendering inert and harmless arsenic, which otherwise is very harmful to the environment," Temple told Streetwise Reports.
BacTech is focused on copper, silver, and gold projects containing arsenic in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.
How do the bugs eat the rocks? BacTech President and Chief Executive Officer Ross Orr uses the analogy of a brick wall where sulfur is the mortar holding everything together in the rocks. The bacteria they use chew and oxidize the sulfides, he said.
"This is a company by its very nature that is cleaning up environmental hazards, and at the same time recovering gold and other metals and, in some instances, rendering inert and harmless arsenic, which otherwise is very harmful to the environment."
—Chris Temple, editor and publisher of The National Investor
"Once the mortar is gone, the wall comes crashing down," Orr said.
The patent BacTech is applying for specifically applies to the bioleaching of pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral containing low levels of nickel, cobalt and copper, which Orr said is typically discarded as uneconomic waste by mining operations. There's between 50 million (M) and 100M tonnes of it in the Sudbury Basin in Ontario, one of the world's largest suppliers of nickel and copper.
The tailings could provide billions of dollars' worth of nickel, one of the minerals important to the EV battery supply chain. But the company said it believes the economic potential is even greater for the recovery of iron, while doing so with a lower carbon footprint.
"Clearly, the world has changed to embrace both carbon reduction and an increased need for critical minerals," said BacTech Vice President of Technology and Engineering Dr. Paul Miller. "BacTech now sees the whole playing field and the potential to recover multiple resources from existing pyrrhotite tailings."
The company will set up a test program over the next year in the Sudbury area to further study the new process.
"We're basically planting our flag in the ground and saying we're first," Orr said.
BacTech is also in the process of constructing a bioleaching processing plant in Ecuador which is expected to start production in Q1 2023.
Bioleaching technology has been in limited use since the 1980s. According to Genome Atlantic, it was first used commercially at the Fairview gold mine in South Africa in 1986.
|Want to be the first to know about interesting Technology, Gold and Base Metals investment ideas? Sign up to receive the FREE Streetwise Reports' newsletter.||Subscribe|
1) Steve Sobek compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC. He or members of his household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He or members of his household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in this article are billboard sponsors of Streetwise Reports: BacTech Environmental Corp. Click here for important disclosures about sponsor fees. As of the date of this article, an affiliate of Streetwise Reports has a consulting relationship with BacTech Environmental Corp. Please click here for more information. The information provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security.
4) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned. Directors, officers, employees or members of their immediate families are prohibited from making purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise from the time of the decision to publish an article until three business days after the publication of the article. The foregoing prohibition does not apply to articles that in substance only restate previously published company releases. As of the date of this article, officers and/or employees of Streetwise Reports LLC (including members of their household) own securities of BacTech Environmental Corp., a company mentioned in this article.