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Operations began at two new plants at mine sites in Australia and China
BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Inc., a leader in the treatment of metal- and sulphate-contaminated water, announced that metal recovery has commenced at two new water treatment plants located at mine sites in Australia and China, and that both plants are gradually ramping up production to full capacity. BioteQ expects both projects to provide a three-year payback on capital, with the plants contributing to revenues by the second quarter of 2008.
China – The Dexing Plant
The total capital cost to date of the Dexing plant in China has been $3.6 million, compared to the original budget of $4.2 million. The plant is designed to treat acidic mine drainage to recover copper using BioteQ’s proprietary ChemSulphide process, and to produce a saleable metal product and clean water that can be discharged to the environment. The project is a joint venture with Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd., China’s largest copper producer. The project partners share equally in the capital and operating costs, as well as the metals recovered.
Brad Marchant, CEO of BioteQ, said, “The project has gone very well, due to a dedicated BioteQ staff in China and excellent cooperation and support from our joint venture partner, who have provided local knowledge and experienced staff throughout the construction and commissioning phase. We look forward to working with them on future projects that can use BioteQ’s technology.”
The commissioning process where the plant components are tested and optimized has taken about four months. There have been some delays in the commissioning process due to severe winter weather. The plant is now processing metal-laden wastewater from several sources at the Dexing mine site, and will be fully commissioned by the second quarter of 2008. The minimum capacity of the plant is anticipated to be 1 million lb of copper per year, and the maximum capacity is 4.4 million lb per year, depending on the copper grade and volume of acidic water treated. The high-grade copper product produced at the Dexing plant will be refined at the Jiangxi Copper refinery at commercially competitive rates. Annual operating costs for the plant are budgeted at $1.6 million for 2008 with expected total copper production of 1.1 million lb.
The Dexing copper mine, located near Dexing City in Jiangxi Province in southeastern China, currently produces 120,000 metric tonnes of copper concentrate per year from flotation concentrate and also operates a heap leach using SX-EW to produce copper cathode from low-grade stockpiles. Daily production at the mine is 100,000 metric tonnes of ore and the current resource provides 50 years of operation at current production rates.
Australia – The Mt. Gordon Project
In September, BioteQ initiated commissioning of its new plant in Australia at the Mt. Gordon mine owned by Aditya Birla. This is a build-own-operate project. The plant is designed to recover copper in a pure copper product as well as cobalt and nickel in a
combined product using BioteQ’s proprietary ChemSulphide process to produce saleable metals and clean water. Following metal recovery, the water is further treated by standard evaporation methods to maintain the mine site’s water balance.
Commissioning was delayed by scarce construction labor in Australia to complete critical plant components on schedule. The evaporation and copper circuits are now operational and the cobalt-nickel circuit is expected to be operational early in the second quarter. The plant will be considered fully commissioned when it operates at 75% of capacity for 14 days. The original capital cost estimate by BioteQ of $4.3 million has doubled to $8.5 million, primarily due to the rapidly increasing cost of labor in Australia, extensive site refurbishment that was not originally anticipated and the incremental capital cost of the evaporation circuit. BioteQ agreed to install an evaporation system in return for increasing their share of net revenues from the sale of metals recovered from 50 to 90%.
The plant is expected to meet BioteQ’s three-year payback criteria. BioteQ has provided the capital cost of the plant and is responsible for all operating costs in exchange for 90% of net revenues from the sale of metals recovered.
The treatment plant has a design capacity of 2.2 billion liters of water per year, and BioteQ expects the plant to process 1.44 million lb of copper, 135,000 lb of cobalt and 23,000 lb of nickel annually. Annual operating costs are anticipated to be $4.3 million.