VANCOUVER, B.C.– BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Inc. (TSX: BQE), a leader in the treatment of metal and sulphate contaminated water, announced changes to its operations and planned projects for 2009. BioteQ has reviewed all of its operations and development projects, and plans to continue active operations at Raglan, Bisbee, Dexing, and Wellington Oro, change the scope of BioteQ’s involvement at Lluvia de Oro, and temporarily cease operations at Mount Gordon. BioteQ will delay new project investments in response to revised customer schedules and to preserve capital.
“Our customers are adjusting to new market conditions, and we must adjust with them”, stated Brad Marchant, BioteQ’s CEO. “Our 2009 priorities are focused on reducing operating costs at all of our plants, developing fee-based water treatment projects, and exploring new markets where our existing technology and expertise are in demand.”
BioteQ’s seasonal operation at the Raglan Mine in northern Quebec is scheduled for start-up in late spring, after the winter snow melt. As a fee-based project, the Raglan operation is buffered from changes in commodity prices, and is anticipated to continue regular operations in 2009. In addition, BioteQ and Xstrata are in discussions regarding operation of the Spoon water treatment plant owned by Xstrata at the Raglan Mine. BioteQ provided operating services for the Spoon plant in 2008, under a one-year contract, and achieved all targets set by Xstrata for the project.
BioteQ continues to operate its joint venture plant located in Bisbee, Arizona. Input costs, which experienced a rapid rise during 2008, have begun to soften as expected and the Company anticipates additional input cost adjustments during 2009. The plant is budgeted to recover 1.1 million pounds of copper in 2009, and the Company is exploring cost saving measures to reduce overheads at the site.
BioteQ’s joint venture project with Jiangxi Copper Company at the Dexing Mine in China is operating according to plan. Jiangxi Copper has completed a planned mine expansion at Dexing, which is expected to gradually create additional water for treatment during 2009 and into 2010. The plant is budgeted to recover 1.2 million pounds of copper in 2009. BioteQ and Jiangxi Copper share equally the project revenues and costs.
BioteQ’s water treatment plant at the Wellington Oro mine site near Breckenridge, Colorado, has been successfully commissioned. This project involved review of BioteQ’s technology by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). There are several EPA Superfund sites in the region of the Wellington Oro plant where BioteQ’s technology might apply that could provide future project opportunities with the US EPA. BioteQ will continue to provide operating support for the site during 2009 under a cost-plus contract for services. A plant tour, organized by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), is slated for February 26.
Operations Under Review
Further to the press release in December 2008, BioteQ and Lluvia de Oro site owner NWM Mining are exploring further revisions to the operating agreement that will allow continued development of the mine while shifting ongoing financial and operational obligations for the site to NWM Mining. The gold heap leach plant and BioteQ’s SART plant have successfully shown that low grade copper-gold deposits can be developed using the combined technology. The gold heap leach and SART plant are currently operating on a minimum production basis, pending additional financing by NWM to expand the mining operation to previously expected production levels. BioteQ maintains first charge on the site assets to secure its investment and is exploring an alternative fee-based operating structure with NWM for ongoing operations.
BioteQ has served notice to temporarily shut down operations at the Mount Gordon site, effective immediately, under force majeure. Recent storms, including a 1 in 100 year rain event, created flood damage at the mine site, including damage to the water treatment plant equipment and inventories. BioteQ is presently reviewing damages with its insurance provider, and is working with site owner, Aditya Birla, to determine the site water treatment needs. BioteQ has proposed a new “cost-plus” fee arrangement for water treatment services, to replace the original commercial agreement that based BioteQ’s revenue on metals, and is awaiting a response from Aditya Birla.
New Capital Projects
Planned new water treatment plant projects in Canada, Chile, and China have been placed on hold because of changes in customer schedules. BioteQ’s customers, Vale-Inco, Molymet, and Jiangxi Copper Company have indicated that they are delaying projects in light of current global markets. These delays impact BioteQ’s planned water treatment project at the North Mine nickel mine in Sudbury, two planned projects at Molymet’s Nos Refinery in Chile, and plans for a new plant at the Yinshan mine in China, which were scheduled for construction in 2009. The projects and their associated capital requirements have been removed from BioteQ’s 2009 construction schedule, pending customer confirmation of timing.
BioteQ’s priorities for 2009 are to reduce plant operating costs to improve cash flow from operations, and to pursue fee-based projects with key customers. In addition, BioteQ is exploring potential new market opportunities where BioteQ’s existing technologies and operating expertise might be applied.
For example, the power industry is a large consumer of water for cooling towers, scrubbing circuits, and handling of ash waste products. Fossil fuel fired plants create contaminants that end up in cooling water circuits and flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater. These contaminants can create process and environmental concerns which can be treated using BioteQ’s existing technologies for metal recovery and sulphate reduction. According to the US Department of Energy, there are approximately 1,400 coal-fired electric generating facilities in the US, and about 2,500 facilities that burn diesel or other fuel oils.
BioteQ Corporate Profile
BioteQ is an industrial water treatment company that applies innovative technologies to solve complex water problems, reducing environmental liabilities while generating revenue from wastewater. The Company’s commercially proven technologies treat industrial wastewater contaminated with dissolved heavy metals and sulphate, producing saleable by-products and clean water that can be discharged safely to the environment. BioteQ has built 8 plants at sites in Canada, the US, China, Australia and Mexico, with additional projects in development. BioteQ is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and trades on the TSX under the symbol BQE. For additional information, please go to www.bqewater.com.
On behalf of the Board of Directors
The Toronto Stock Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of this release.