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MEI Online: Biotechnology: Latest News: May 9th 2006


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:: Bactech To Evaluate Copper Opportunities

BacTech Mining Corporation has announced that while the Company remains primarily focused on implementation of their gold strategy , recent developments in the copper market may justify an early implementation of their copper business plan.

The high cost of treating copper concentrates and the limited smelter capacity makes the BacTech chalcopyrite leaching technology an attractive alternative for the copper industry. In particular, there are number of SX-EW (Solvent Extraction - Electrowinning) copper operations that have depleted their oxide resources. Producing concentrates from hypogene ores adds considerable cost and eliminates the need for the existing SX-EW infrastructure. By bioleaching concentrates on site, companies can leverage their existing SX-EW assets and avoid costly transportation, smelting and refining charges. More importantly, they are decoupled from smelter capacity, which is currently strained.

BacTech believes that its chalcopyrite leaching technology can reduce the total TC and RC as well as transportation and handling operating costs by as much as two thirds, thereby providing significant commercial advantages. Furthermore, its technology will continue to allow for the production of high purity copper with the continued utilization of the existing SX-EW facilities.

BacTech has successfully demonstrated their proprietary bioleaching technology on chalcopyrite in 1998 at Mount Lyell copper mine in Australia and more recently, in 2001, at a demonstration pilot plant in Monterrey, Mexico, as part of a program in partnership with Industrias Peņoles and Mintek of South Africa. BacTech is one of only two companies that have successfully built commercial bioleaching operations, but it is the only company to have successfully demonstrated copper (polymetallic) concentrate leaching technology. This is a substantial competitive advantage in the current copper market, particularly for treatment of dirty concentrates where some penalty elements associated with smelting can actually produce revenue streams from a bioleach process. Bioleaching technology is also an environmentally friendly technology in comparison to smelting, producing benign solid by-products as opposed to harmful gases.

BacTech remains focused on first delivering on their gold strategy. The use of bioleaching in complex ores to extract gold is well understood and accepted by the industry. Once the Company has delivered on its gold joint venture strategy, the next step will be to undertake concerted efforts in developing copper focused joint ventures.

"The copper industry is developing to be a significant opportunity for BacTech and an obvious place to start would be Chile." stated Ross Orr, the Company's President and CEO. He went on to say, "We will begin to move this agenda forward, but it is most important that we remain focused and first deliver on our initial joint venture plans in gold."




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