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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Australasia: August 17th 2009


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:: BioHeap Sulphide Leaching Technology Option Acquired by Australian Nickel Miner

Australian nickel miner Western Areas has executed a Heads of Agreement to acquire the BioHeap sulphide leaching technology from Pacific Ore Ltd. The agreement provides Western Areas with an option period of up to six months to conduct due diligence on the BioHeap process, assess the global patents and licenses and conduct test work on a range of low grade sulphide ores from the Forrestania Nickel Project.

BioHeap is a bacterial heap leaching technology developed to leach low grade sulphide ores to produce intermediate products which can be sold directly to nickel refineries. A large amount of test work has been carried out on a range of nickel and copper deposits around the world and the technology has been successfully applied at the Radio Hill nickel mine.

In addition to high grade ores planned to be mined at Forrestania and treated through the Cosmic Boy nickel concentrator, there are approximately 128,600 tonnes of nickel in low grade mineral resources. These are located above Flying Fox, Lounge Lizard, Diggers South, and New Morning deposits and at Purple Haze and Beautiful Sunday. There are also wide zones up to 1% nickel at shallow depth at Liquid Acrobat prospect.

Western Areas Managing Director, Mr Julian Hanna said, "BioHeap offers potential to unlock significant value from the large volume of lower grade mineralisation already outlined adjacent to our existing and planned mines at Forrestania, at relatively low cost. BioHeap also provides an opportunity to increase production above currently announced targets of between 20,000 tonnes nickel in CY 2010 and 35,000 tonnes nickel in CY 2012. These targets are based only on ore which is planned to be treated through the Cosmic Boy nickel concentrator."

"If we proceed with the acquisition, we will be bringing to the Company a valuable asset which has been developed over many years to the stage of potential commercial production," Mr Hanna added.

"The intention is to use the existing, highly skilled BioHeap staff to conduct the test work so this does not detract in any way from our current operations at Forrestania."




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