BacTech Environmental – Using Bugs to Tackle Mining Pollution and Recover Valuable Metals
Whether regulators decide to license new mining operations or permit some closed mines to be reopened, the industry already faces a huge, expensive, and ongoing task in protecting humans, animals, and the environment from toxic emissions.
Despite laws requiring operators to protect the environment, mining, both large-scale and artisanal, can be a messy business, not only while mines are operational, but often for decades afterwards. This is due to the almost inevitable pollution they produce within the broad confines of the mine itself and in the surrounding area. Water containing dissolved heavy metals like lead and cadmium, for example, can leak into local groundwater polluting it.
When the miners pack up and go, they leave behind what are called tailings. Tailings often contain ores and other materials contaminated by toxic substances including arsenic, mercury, gold, and sulfuric acid. These substances are not only poisonous to humans and animals, but also harm the local environment in a number of ways. Over time, for example, the sulfides in the tailings react with the air and oxidize to create what’s called acid rock drainage (ARD) – acidic solutions that leach into the surrounding ground. It is these solutions that poison the earth they seep into, and that can contaminate groundwater and underground watercourses. The result is that abandoned mines and a sizeable area around them may be unsuitable for any purpose for years and have to be fenced off and monitored. In addition, the water supply of the surrounding area may be unsafe for a considerable time.
In the US, the federal government decided in December 2017 that it would no longer require mining companies to set aside funds to cover the cost of future cleanup operations. The implications are far-reaching. It doesn’t mean pollution won’t be dealt with, but it does mean, among other things, that the taxpayer will likely be saddled with those costs if a mining operator goes bust. The Obama administration introduced the original requirement for companies to set aside funds after figures showed that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) had spent over $1 billion on cleanup operations at hard-rock mining and processing sites between 2010 and 2014.
Regardless of who pays, cleanup operations are costly and take time. Any company that presents a way to reduce the costs and/or speed up the processes would be doing the industry and the taxpayer a valuable service and would also likely be on to a financial winner. One company has done just that, and in a most creative way.
The company is the BacTech Environmental Corporation
. It uses a process called “bioleaching
.” This bacterial oxidation technology recovers precious and base metals from sulfide ores and concentrates that are difficult or impossible to treat effectively and economically using conventional technologies such as smelting, roasting, or pressure oxidation. In short, the corporation uses bugs – naturally occurring bacteria harmless to humans, animals, and the wider environment – to do the work. It is one of only two companies in the world to have a commercially proven, environmentally friendly, bioleaching technology
. (The other being South African giant Gold Fields)
The process has many benefits, but three in particular stand out: It reduces pollution and recovers valuable materials. In addition, in about six days, it can detoxify an area that would take up to 20 years using conventional methods.
The company’s bioleaching technology was originally developed commercially by the BacTech Mining Corporation. (This company was renamed the REBgold Corporation in 2010.) REBgold’s registered trademark for the bioleaching technology is “BACOX.” In 2010, REBgold granted the BacTech Environmental Corporation a perpetual, exclusive, royalty-free license to use BACOX technology for the remediation and reclamation of tailings left by mining operations.
The bioleaching technologies employed by BacTech Environmental are complex, and most lay people would struggle to fully grasp them. Potential investors and others, however, would benefit from gaining a broad understanding of them. The technologies can be divided into two categories, both involving bacteria.
The first commercially developed by REBgold is based on work originally done at Kings College, London. It involves the use of a thermo-tolerant bacterial culture in an aqueous solution operating at temperatures between 25°C and 55°C. The culture solution recovers base and/or precious metals from sulfide materials through leaching. The second technology was purchased from VistaTech. It also uses thermo-tolerant bacteria in an aqueous solution to recover precious metals from particulate sulfate material, but at a temperature range of between 45°C and 90°C. Patents applications and registrations for both technologies were granted and have since lapsed as BacTech is using newer advanced technologies to improve upon the older methodologies. We do expect some very interesting and fruitful developments out of the ongoing work being conducted at Laurentian University
About the company
The BacTech Environmental Corporation was formed in 2010 as a result of a Plan of Arrangement with its former parent, the BacTech Mining Corporation. The parent was founded in 1988 in Western Australia and incorporated in Canada in 1997. It changed its name in 2010 to the REBgold Corporation. The BacTech Environmental Corporation is now a separate Canadian public company (symbol BAC) with shares quoted on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE).
BEC’s main customer base
A global market exists for services to deal with the mining-related arsenic problem and other pollution issues. BacTech Environmental’s strategy is to provide environmental remediation services worldwide to address these issues. The company plans to part-fund potential projects through a combination of equity stakes, cash generated through the metal recovered, and partnerships with local and national governments, as well as non-governmental bodies.
The key people behind the company
John C. Gingerich, P. Geo.
Director and Chairman of the Board
John C. Gingerich is a professional geophysicist with over 35 years’ experience in exploration and mining technology. He has served on a number of Canadian mining industry and governmental boards and committees. In 2010, he became a director of the BacTech Environmental Corporation having previously been on the board of the BacTech Mining Corporation.
Ross Orr, B.A.
Director, President, and CEO
In 1997, Ross Orr brought the then Australian company, the BacTech Mining Corporation, to Canada and was instrumental in ensuring the company’s successful IPO. He took up the role of President and CEO in 2004. In 2010, following completion of the Plan of Arrangement, he assumed the positions of President and CEO of the BacTech Environmental Corporation
The Hon. Tim Lewin
Tim Lewin is Londoner and former commodities trader on the London Metal Exchange. Prior to the establishment of the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA), he served on the Bank of England’s monitored markets committee. In 1992, he led a team of market specialists to Russia to assist that country phase in “organized markets.” He is a director of and advisor to a number Russian investment funds and regional administrations. In 2014, he joined the board of the BacTech Environmental Corporation.
Walter Cimowsky, B.Sc., MBA
Walter Cimowsky is a director and founding partner of Ocean Partners Holdings Limited, a company involved in the international marketing and physical trading of copper, zinc, lead, and precious metal concentrates. In 2010, he joined the board of the BacTech Environmental Corporation.
Jay L. Naster, B.A., LL.B.
Jay L. Naster is a barrister and partner with the legal firm, Brauti Thorning Zibarras. He was called to the bar in 1986 and then spent eleven years as a Crown counsel with the Crown Law Office (Criminal) specializing in white-collar criminal prosecutions. In 1997, he became the senior litigation counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission. In 2005, he entered private practice. In 2010, he joined the board of the BacTech Environmental Corporation.
Donald A. Whalen, B.Com.
Donald A. Whalen was former executive chairman of High River Gold Mines Limited, prior to which he spent 29 years with IBM Canada Ltd. He was chairman of the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association and co-chair of the Canada Russia Business Council. He joined the board of the BacTech Environmental Corporation in 2012 and is also a director of Pancontinental Gold Corporation and Roscan Minerals Corporation.
Louis R. Nagy, C.P.A., C.A.
Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary
Louis R. Nagy has been a chartered accountant for over 28 years. Prior to becoming chief financial officer (CFO) with the BacTech Environmental Corporation in 2010, he held a similar position with the BacTech Mining Corporation.
Dr. Paul C. Miller, B.Sc.Hons. (Minerals Engineering), MSc. (Biochemical Engineering), Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), MBA M IMM, C-Eng
Vice President, Technology and Engineering
In 1981, Dr Miller started his career with the South African company Mintek, and was part of the original group tasked with evaluating the technology of bioleaching. For 25 years he has been working in various international companies involved in using and developing related technology. In 1996, he joined BacTech Mining Corporation in Australia as technical manager.
Gary D. Williams, M.Sc., P.Geo.
Gary D. Williams has over 40 years’ experience in exploration and environmental aspects of the mining industry. He has held senior executive positions in a number of exploration companies.
Oscar A. Alvarado, B.A.Sc., M.A., EPt
Project Research Analyst
Oscar A. Alvarado, has an impressive background in biological and environmental science. He has previously worked in Italy for a United Nations research institute, where he carried out biotechnology research.
The mining industry does not always get positive press coverage and is watched closely and with suspicion by many people especially those concerned about preserving a pristine environment. Even cleanup operations are viewed by some with distrust. The arrival of a company like BacTech Environmental, which offers clean, proven, and natural solution to many of the issues related to mining pollution, is a breath of fresh air. It is likely to generate positive reactions from the industry, environmentalists, and potential investors.
Join the BacTech journey and become a proud shareholder in a company doing something right – for a change. The shares at these levels are an absolute theft and in our opinion the pps will reflect that in due course.