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Grant Helps Green Tech Co. Extract Battery Metals From Tailings

Source: Streetwise Reports

August 15, 2023 (Investorideas.com Newswire) The grant that will help a partner of the company develop and complete pilot testing of a novel pyrrhotite bioleaching process for extracting the battery metals nickel and cobalt from tailings.


A partner of BacTech Environmental Corp. (BAC:CSE;BCCEF:OTCQB;OBT1:FRA) is receiving a grant that will help it develop and complete pilot testing of the company's novel pyrrhotite bioleaching process for extracting the battery metals nickel and cobalt from tailings.

MIRARCO Mining Innovation will receive CA$280,000 through the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) Network, which is focused on developing initiatives for commercializing mining technology and increasing productivity and sustainability in the sector.

Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk, a member of BacTech's advisory board and president and chief executive officer of MIRARCO, is leading the development and building of the plant.

"Focusing on 'Made in Canada' scientific solutions for waste mine management makes sense, and bioleaching is well positioned to complement modern mining practices and help extract critical minerals from waste," Mykytczuk said. "Partnerships with industry are important in accelerating the scale-up and commercialization of these types of technologies and the MICA grant will help deliver on these goals."

When the company first tested its bioleaching process for extracting elements from mine tailings, there wasn't much of a market for nickel or cobalt. But now the world is gearing up for the new green economy, and more of those metals are needed for batteries.

"The world has changed," BacTech Chief Executive Officer Ross Orr has said. "There are other ways of getting metal out of (tailings) that didn't exist 25 years ago."

The company also hopes to extract iron and sulfur from the tailings.

The Sudbury basin in Ontario has up to 100 million tonnes of pyrrhotite tailings from 90 years of mining, containing an average of 0.80% nickel and 0.03% cobalt, the company said.

The tailings used in the testing funded by the grant will be provided to MIRARCO by industry partner Vale S.A. (VALE:NYSE), BacTech said.

The Catalyst: Green Economy Means More Battery Metals

MIRARCO has received more than CA$1.6 million from Vale and the Ontario government to work on extracting nickel and cobalt from tailings.

Mykytczuk is leading the development and building of the bioleaching plant in Sudbury, which will be used to test various bioleaching processes like the pyrrhotite treatment.

Pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide mineral containing low levels of nickel, cobalt, and copper, has traditionally been discarded as waste by mining operations, leading to a large amount of it being stored in tailings ponds to keep it stable.

"They were dumping this stuff in lakes for the last 100 years to keep it underwater so that it wouldn't oxidize on its own," Orr said. "We're just assisting that process, and then ... trying to harvest the results of our labors."

BacTech's motto, "Our bugs eat rocks," describes bioleaching, which uses naturally occurring bacteria, harmless to humans and the environment, to extract precious and base metals from ores, concentrates, and tailings. Think of the rocks as a brick wall with sulfur mortar. The bacteria eat the sulfur, causing the wall to come crashing down.

The appetite for the metals is expanding as the need for batteries to store power for the coming green economy increases. The global nickel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% from 2021 to 2028 to US$59.14 billion, Fortune Business Insights reported.

Ecuador Government to Respond to Complaint

Meanwhile, the company continues to wait out the situation in Ecuador, where it is building a bioleaching plant in that South American country.

The country's Constitutional Court temporarily suspended a presidential decree unlocking the environmental consultation process for many projects in the country, including the plant in Tenguel.

The company had received its construction permit and approval from the government for its environmental impact study on the site but has been working through the community consultation phase for the final environmental permit.

The court's decision came after a complaint filed by the indigenous group CONAIE, or the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, which participated in protests against a mining project involved in the same process environmental impact process. But as Orr has pointed out, BacTech is not a mining company.

The government had until Monday to respond to the complaint as the country continued to reel from the assassination last week of a presidential candidate.

"It, of course, is expected that they will sternly request a reversal of their ruling allowing projects (such as ours) to continue their respective interactions with local residents," Orr wrote Sunday in his weekly "Sunday Morning Coffee" email to supporters and shareholders. "I can say with great certainty that the people of Tenguel are looking forward to working with BacTech, and they don't deserve to have people, who don't even live anywhere near Tenguel, determine their collective fates."

Orr said he did not know how long it would take to get a verdict.

"This has been particularly frustrating for us as we had already completed two-thirds of the process and were within two weeks of obtaining the permit," Orr noted.

Chris Temple, editor of The National Investor, has written that "it's hard to conceive of any reason why the community would oppose this."

"It's a green company that's going to clean up toxic material around mines and be able to process troublesome ores," Temple said.

Technical Analyst Clive Maund of CliveMaund.com also rated BacTech an Immediate Buy in March.

Ownership and Share Structure

Nearly half of the company, 49%, is held by insiders, management, and strategic shareholders, the biggest of which is Option Three Advisory Services Ltd., which owns 8.42%, or 15.57 million shares, according to Reuters. That also includes CEO Orr, who owns 3.68% or 6.8 million shares, and Board Director Timothy Lewin, who owns 0.53% or 0.98 million shares.

The rest is retail.

The company has 185.36 million shares outstanding, including 159.12 million free floating. Its market cap is CA$12.19 million, and it trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.10 and CA$0.055.

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