Thursday, April 28, 2011

Experimental Bioleaching Technique To Be Used On Concentrates In Manitoba

The heap of concentrates is located in Snow Lake, Manitoba. It's fifty years old, weighs 250,000 tonnes, and has been leaking sulfuric acid and arsenic for quite some time. A Toronto company named BacTech Environmental Corp. is promising to get the gold remains out and clean the concentrates up at the same time through a new process called "bioleaching."
"This will be our flagship project," said Ross Orr, president and CEO of BacTech. "There are more than 10,000 tailings deposits in North America, some large, some small. Our job is to find which ones are the nastiest but can also provide a return on investment."

The technology, called bioleaching, involves introducing a cocktail of benign, sulphide-eating bacteria into the concentrate that will release the gold that is locked in a sulphide matrix.

It is technology that is already being used in about 20 mine sites around the world where conventional gold-mining techniques are not sufficient to release viable quantities of gold....
Sampling of the tailing indicate it contains 9 g/t of gold, which is enough of a grade to make for a profitable underground mine. At 250,000 tonnes, the expected yield is about 72,000 oz. with near-100% recovery.

The mine, formerly known as New Brittania, is being reopened by Alexis Minerals. The concentrate garnered by BacTech will need to be milled, so the company will be in need of Alexis' co-operation. Bioleaching does work, but it's more expensive than conventional methods: it's only used when conventional methods fail. Tailings are BacTech's target market because they're already mined, so the expense of the bioleaching is cancelled out by the lack of expense for hauling the rock up.

As an aside, Alexis is listed and so is BacTech. Only the latter is listed on the Pink Sheets.

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