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Hearing Date Set on Bioleaching Plant's Permit Process

Source: Streetwise Reports


September 12, 2023 ( Newswire) A court in Ecuador will hear arguments next week on the suspension of a presidential decree involving the permitting process for several projects. One newsletter writer called this company and its stock the "poster child" for green causes.

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador has set a hearing for September 18 on the suspension of a presidential decree unlocking the environmental consultation process for many projects in the country, including green technology company BacTech Environmental Corp.'s (BAC:CSE;BCCEF:OTCQB;OBT1:FRA) bioleaching plant in Tenguel.

Last Thursday, the court declared the process as a priority. According to a release from another company with an affected project in the country, Adventus Mining Corp. (ADVZF:OTCMKTS), "Historically, the court can be expected to issue a resolution within two to three months following the public hearing commencement."

The suspension is affecting the environmental consultation process for many companies across the country.

BacTech 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 temporary 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 consultation process.

But BacTech does not mine, but cleans up after them, President and Chief Executive Officer Ross Orr has pointed out.

"We are hoping that the ridiculous ruling made in early August will be overturned, and we can get back to work," Orr wrote in his weekly email update to colleagues and shareholders, "Sunday Morning Coffee." "Fingers crossed."

Presidential Election Complicates Situation

Complicating the issue has been the country's presidential election process. Crime has topped the agenda of the race, which saw the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption journalist.

Luisa González, of the Movimiento Revolución Ciudadana party, led the vote with about 33%, while Daniel Noboa, of National Democratic Action, came in second with nearly 24%. The two will now face off in a runoff on October 15.

González ran for the party of former leftist President Rafael Correa, who supported her run from exile in Belgium after being convicted of corruption.

"It's worth noting that seven out of the eight candidates recognize that the country's progress hinges on the development of natural resource projects, which would lead to job creation and increased tax revenue for the government," Orr wrote in another installment of "Sunday Morning Coffee."

The Catalyst: Rock-Eating Bugs

The decision to suspend the decree covering the consultation process is temporary while the government and other public bodies present their arguments.

BacTech was eying the process' finish line when the court decision came.

"The project is being well received by the locals, and they look forward to getting to work," Orr wrote.

Chris Temple, the 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," he wrote.

"Our bugs eat rocks," the company says. Its bioleaching process uses naturally occurring bacteria, harmless to humans and the environment, to extract precious and base metals from ores, concentrates, and tailings.

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

Co. 'Crucial Factor' in Country

For the feed going into the plant, there are 90 small mines in the area that produce significant amounts of arsenic with gold in the area. The plant would process about 30,900 ounces gold (Au) per year. There is potential for expansion; the total availability of materials in the area is an estimated 250 tonnes per day.

Orr said BacTech is seen in the country as "a crucial factor in making certain mining developments more acceptable" and plans to actively seek funding for the project once the situation in the country stabilizes.

The company recently launched a new sustainable framework for issuing US$20 million in Green Bonds to pay for the Tenguel plant.

"We've discovered a gem in Ecuador, and despite the current challenges, we're confident in overcoming them," Orr said. "While governments may change, environmental issues persist until addressed. I firmly believe that Ecuador is just the first in a series of successes that will follow once we demonstrate the capabilities of our technology."

The markets should follow, as well, Temple said.

"There's been a massive appetite in capital markets for anything that can be legitimately described as green," and BacTech is "like a poster child for what is legitimately a green cause," he said.

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 8.48%, or 15.57 million shares, according to Reuters. That also includes CEO Orr, who owns 3.57% or 6.54 million shares, and Board Director Timothy Lewin, who owns 0.54% 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$14.81 million, and it trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.10 and CA$0.055.

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