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MEI Online: Biotechnology: Latest News: December 12th 2006


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:: Mintek-BacTech Gold Bio-leaching Plant Wins Environmental Award

A Chinese gold bioleaching plant, which uses South African-Australian gold bioleach technology developed by Mintek and the BacTech Mining Corporation, has scooped up the coveted international Mining Environmental Protection Award at the inaugural China Mining 2006 awards ceremony in Beijing.

Michelago Limited's Laizhou Biogold plant in China's Shandong province, which was jointly designed by Mintek of South Africa and BacTech of Canada, has been using the proprietary BACOX bioleach technology to liberate gold from diffficult-to-treat concentrates.

"The Laizhou facility is a toll treatment plant designed to treat a variety of concentrates from the surrounding regions," explained John Neale, specialist engineer of the Biotechnology Division at Mintek, who was involved with the process design of the plant.

"Refractory gold concentrates in China generally have a high arsenic content. The BACOX process incorporates means of disposing of arsenic in an environmentally friendly way, which reflects Mintek's ongoing commitment and R&D efforts to continuously improve technology in order to reduce the impact of metallurgical processes on the environment," said Neale.

"Commissioning of the plant was very successful and we were particularly pleased with the ease of start-up," commented Dr Tony Pinches, manager of Mintek's Biotechnology Division. "Bioleaching has replaced roasting as the technology of choice and has become the industry standard in Africa, Australia and Asia for treating these types of concentrates, due to the environmentally friendly nature of the process," concluded Pinches.

Mintek and BacTech jointly issued a licence to Michelago on 20 February 2005 for a five year period, extendible for an additional five years on the same terms and conditions set out in the original licence, subject to Michelago not being in default of the licence at the time of renewal. In addition, BacTech and Mintek hold an option to purchase up to a 30% equity interest, at a fair market value, in any new projects acquired or developed by Michelago in the territories of China, Mongolia, Siberia and Korea, which use the BACOX technology.

The Laizhou Biogold plant is currently undergoing an expansion, overseen by BacTech's Dr. Paul Miller, which should see a doubling of gold production from the bioleach facility to over 150 000 ounces of gold per year. Michelago will pay a royalty to Mintek and BacTech for this increase in production volume.




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