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MEI Online: Biotechnology: Latest News: February 4th 2002

:: Titan reports big improvement in BioHeapTM trials  

Titan Resources NL today reported a dramatic improvement in leaching kinetics during the second large-scale field trials of its BioHeapTM metallurgical process for nickel and copper recovery at its pilot plant at Radio Hill in Western Australia. The Company told the Australian Stock Exchange today that in just three months more than 60% of the contained nickel was leached into solution during the latest trials.

"This leach rate represents a major improvement in oxidation and dissolution kinetics, due almost certainly to the planned resting of the heap before inoculation and before the start of irrigation and aeration," Titan reported. The Company said the effect was much greater than anticipated with initial recovery rates of almost twice as fast as previously experienced. The process has now settled to a slower but still impressive rate of more than three per cent per week.

BioHeapTM is a metallurgical process involving the application of biological engineering to recover base metals from sulphide ore in a heap leach environment. The first large scale field trials of the process last year yielded an overall nickel recovery of 90 per cent. The Company also reported to the Stock Exchange that advanced phase bacterial leach testwork was in progress on samples from major nickel producers WMC, Inco and Jinchuan Non-Ferrous Metals Corporation of China.

The Company has also made further advances in the development of salt tolerant bacteria, with several strains being developed capable of functioning at chloride concentrations more than six times the level of sea water.


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