BacTech and Gold Bullion Team Up in Cobalt Campadmin
BacTech Mining Corporation announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Gold Bullion Development Corp. of Cobalt, Ontario. The basis of the agreement entails BacTech investigating the use of its proprietary bioleaching technology to treat certain tailings in the Cobalt Camp in northeastern Ontario for the recovery of cobalt and silver. In addition, BacTech will investigate potential environmental remediation for the associated arsenic in the tailings. In the event of a positive outcome from the study, both parties will formalize the agreement through the creation of a Joint Venture.
Silver and cobalt were first discovered in 1903 in the Cobalt Camp and by 1922, cumulative production had reached over 333 million ounces of silver. Given the fact that there were very few applications for cobalt metal prior to World War II, most of the cobalt was disposed of along with the tailings on surface or pumped into local lakes. The rush to mine deposits of silver, combined with a lack of knowledge about environmental protection, led to very large amounts of waste rock, mine tailings and refinery waste throughout the area.
What has been left behind potentially offers considerable upside for BacTech and Gold Bullion. Studies have shown that tailings in the Cobalt area contain very high amounts of arsenic, as well as nickel and cobalt. The concentrations of these metals vary between tailings deposits, but arsenic is found in all of the tailings in the area. Many of these tailings continue to be the source of water pollution which leads to high levels of arsenic and other contaminants in the lakes and streams around Cobalt.
The advantage of BacTech’s bioleaching technology is its’ ability to capture cobalt and silver, as well as treat and neutralize arsenic from concentrates. The release of arsenic through bioleaching and its subsequent bonding with iron produces a stable ferric arsenate end product which is classified as benign by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to treating the arsenic in the tailings, BacTech will also be investigating the prospects of delivering cobalt and nickel into solution for conventional recovery.
Ross Orr, President and CEO of BacTech stated, “This agreement opens up new avenues for BacTech. The environmental side of mining offers opportunities to clean up historic problems with the upside of recovering metals for our own account. We will be introducing ourselves to fund managers who operate in the environmental arena in addition to the resource sector.”
Gold Bullion will deliver to BacTech a representative sample of approximately 500 kg for concentration from its Castle Mine tailings (see Gold Bullion press release dated June 5, 2008) to conduct preliminary bioleach amenability work. Should positive results be achieved, BacTech and Gold Bullion will proceed to the construction of a pilot plant to be sited in the Cobalt Camp under a still-to-be-determined sharing of obligations.
A proposed flow sheet is expected to show a relatively low grade bulk concentrate produced from the tailings in which much of the arsenic is captured together with cobalt and nickel metal. An attribute of bioleaching is its ability to economically treat low grade concentrates that would not be accepted by conventional smelters. The concentrate would be subjected to bioleaching, resulting in arsenic neutralization and the release of cobalt and nickel metal into solution. A cobalt/nickel precipitate is the most likely end product, which will either be shipped offsite for processing, or a study will look into the possibility of producing metal onsite.
BacTech’s ability to work with precious metals has been commercially proven at three different bioleach plants. In addition, BacTech has demonstrated its abilities in base metal concentrates with Industrias Penoles de C.V. in Mexico.