BacTech Environmental Corporation has been in the news several times in the last couple of weeks. Most notably in the release of results from their bioleach testing on concentrates from the Snow Lake arsenic/gold residue stockpile or Toke Mountain as it is more commonly known.
The company noted that their BACOX bio-oxidation process did very well in the testing. The process oxidizes over 95 per cent of the sulphides, thereby eliminating future acid mine drainage environmental problems associated with the stockpile. Additionally, the bio-oxidation process renders 88.6 per cent of gold contained in the sulphides available for extraction, compared to only 9.4 per cent using conventional gold extraction without oxidation.
It was stated that a high weight loss of 45.7 per cent was obtained during oxidation, resulting in the gold grade almost doubling to 17.8 g/t from the original 9.80g/t, but still maintaining the same amount of gold in the plant feed.
"This mass reduction reduces considerably the size and cost of equipment required in final gold extraction processing," the release read. "The reagent consumptions noted in the test work for gold extraction were also modest and comparable to those associated with current bio-oxidation plants used in the gold mining industry."
Ross Orr, president and CEO of BacTech, was pleased with the numbers the testing brought back.
"Historically, we have found that we should be able to obtain higher recoveries in a commercial operation compared to the laboratory where optimization of parameters is easier on a continuous basis and the bacteria used in the process adapt over time to the type of feedstock," he said. "This result clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of BacTech technology for these types of environmental remediation."
Another news release earlier in the month announced a change to BacTech's board of directors and the appointment of a vice-president for its wholly-owned subsidiary that holds the Snow Lake project.
BacTech announced that Mary Ann Mihychuk, requested that she step down from the board to assume the role of vice-president of operations for BacTech Manitoba Corporation. BMC has 100 per cent ownership of the Snow Lake project on behalf of BacTech. BacTech Manitoba has established an office in the National Research Council Business Commercialization Centre (BCC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
"We are pleased to have Mary Ann carry a more hands-on role with respect to Snow Lake," said Orr. "Much of what we have accomplished, in a relatively short period of time, can be traced back to her participation to date."
Along with an extensive background in business and public service, Mihychuk is currently employed as the community development officer with the Town of Snow Lake. Asked if he saw any conflict with Mihychuk, who is also a former NDP mines minister in the Doer government, performing both jobs, Snow Lake's Mayor Clarence Fisher advised that he didn't anticipate any conflicts or troubles emerging.
"First of all, Ms. Mihychuk is a professional, who I have confidence in and who I know will do all that she can to make sure conflicts do not arise," said Fisher in an e-mail reply to the question. "But more than that, it is really very similar to many other people associated with the town. For example, I also work at the school, Mr. (Dave) Mayer owns Home Hardware, Mr. (Chris) Samborski owns Cornerview. When any issues come up that directly concern our other 'hats', we need to be aware of them and step away from the table; which people have been willing to do."
Mihychuk, Manitoba's former NDP minister of industry and mines, was hired by Snow Lake Town council Feb. 21 as its community development officer. She holds a MSc. in geology from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. and is a registered geoscientist in Manitoba and Ontario.
She has a background of 30 years as a geologist, has served as the director of corporate relations for HudBay Minerals Inc., as well as director of regulatory affairs at PDAC, and while NDP MLA for Winnipeg's Minto constituency, she served as minister of industry, trade and mines, and as minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade.
Fisher says that he believes there may have been more of a concern if the council were still in the process of attracting BacTech to set up in Snow Lake. "When you are in the early stages of these types of negotiations, people need to be very careful if they wear multiple hats," said the mayor. "But we are past that stage. BacTech has decided to set up shop in Snow Lake. They are finalizing all of their chemical and economic assessments, but beyond having to settle on and sell them a piece of property, we currently have no ongoing negotiations with BacTech. They will need more time with us as a council and with Mr. (Jeff) Precourt and Mr. (Viktar) Lazar as the town's project manager, but in regards to the town, they should have little to do with Ms. Mihychuk's office."
The company also announced the appointment of Don Whalen to the board of BacTech. Whalen is no stranger to the people of Snow Lake. He is the former executive chairman of High River Gold Corporation , which owned and operated the New Britannia Mine in the late 1990s.