VANCOUVER, BC – BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. (TSX:BQE), a leader in the treatment of metal and sulphate contaminated water, announces 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 pay-back on capital, with the plants contributing to revenues by the second quarter of 2008.
The Company also announces a change to its board of directors, and a conference call to discuss its 2007 financial results.
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, to produce a saleable metal product and clean water that can be discharged to the environment. The project is a 50-50 joint venture with Jiangxi Copper Company Limited, China’s largest copper producer, where the project partners share equally in the capital and operating costs, as well as the metals recovered.
Brad Marchant, CEO of BioteQ stated, “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 experienced this year. The plant is now processing metal-laden waste water from several sources at the Dexing mine site, and will be fully commissioned by the second quarter 2008. The minimum capacity of the plant is anticipated to be 1 million pounds of copper per year, and the maximum capacity is 4.4 million pounds 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 pounds.
The Dexing copper mine, located near Dexing City in Jiangxi Province in south-eastern China, currently produces 120,000 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 tonnes of ore and the current resource provides 50 years of operation at current production rates. Mine drainage from waste dumps and low grade stockpiles is acidic and contains copper.
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 labour 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 percent 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 labour 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 3-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 litres of water per year, and BioteQ expects the plant to process 1.44 million lbs of copper, 135,000 lbs of cobalt, and 23,000 lbs of nickel annually. Annual operating costs are anticipated to be $4.3 million.
BioteQ has reported on several other projects that are in the construction phase. These include:
Lluvia de Oro – a build, own, operate water treatment project at a gold mine in northern Mexico owned by Columbia Metals where BioteQ is providing technology to recover copper from gold cyanide solution and regenerate cyanide for gold recovery. The project is currently on schedule to begin commissioning in late second quarter of this year. BioteQ will recover its capital through a combination of participation in metals recovered and process fees.
Wellington Oro – a plant sale at an abandoned mine site in Colorado where BioteQ’s technology will be used to recover zinc and cadmium from underground water. The US EPA recommended BioteQ for this site in a competitive bid process, based on the technology’s ability to meet very stringent water quality requirements, recover metals in a saleable form and produce no sludge that would require long-term storage. The plant is being built by third party constructors and BioteQ expects to begin commissioning, on a fee basis, in the third quarter of 2008.
Sierrita – a fee-for-service project to build a demonstration plant with Freeport McMoRan at their Sierrita site in southern Arizona using BioteQ’s new Sulf-IX™ process for sulphate removal. The plant is being built by Freeport and is expected to be completed by year-end.
Blackwell – a plant sale to Freeport McMoRan to treat ground water for zinc and cadmium removal, similar to the plant at Wellington Oro, located in Blackwell, Oklahoma. BioteQ’s process was selected because it meets strict water quality criteria, produces a saleable metal product for refining off-site and eliminates the production of sludge, when compared to a conventional lime plant. The plant is built and is being installed by Freeport, with commissioning expected in the first quarter of 2009.
Molymet, Nos Refinery – recently announced, this is the second plant using BioteQ’s new Sulf-IX™ process for sulphate removal to meet new sulphate discharge criteria. The project is a build-own-operate arrangement where BioteQ will recover its capital from process fees, based on the process savings compared to the existing reverse osmosis plant at the site. Engineering is in progress and the first stage of the plant is expected to be completed and ready for commissioning during the first half of 2009, subject to completion of detailed engineering.
Jojoba – the second project with Columbia Metals, adjacent the Lluvia de Oro gold mine. Expected to be completed in 2009, engineering has not been initiated.
JCC joint venture – the joint venture is currently evaluating other sites that were included in the joint venture agreement for possible construction in 2009.
Change in Board of Directors
The Company announces that due to other corporate commitments, Ian Telfer will not be standing for re-election as a director at the upcoming AGM on April 23 and will tender his resignation from the board this month. The board and management of BioteQ wish to thank Mr. Telfer for his invaluable contributions during the development and growth of BioteQ. Mr. Telfer was an early shareholder of BioteQ and has provided key financial and business guidance to the Company since joining the board in 2002. The Company is currently searching for a new independent board member to maintain a board of six members.
Year end financial results to be released
BioteQ will be releasing its 2007 financial results on Thursday March 13. A conference call to discuss the results is scheduled for Friday March 14, 11:00 am Eastern. To participate, please call 1-888-789-9572 or 416-695-7806, and enter participant code 3254044. A replay of the call will be available until March 28 by dialing 1-800-408-3053 or 416-695-5800, access code 3254044.
BioteQ Corporate Profile
BioteQ builds, owns and operates water treatment plants for the world’s mining companies and utility operators, reducing environmental liabilities while generating revenue from waste. The Company’s commercially proven technology treats acid mine drainage and other metal-laden waste water by sequentially removing metals and sulphate, producing saleable metal products and clean water that can be discharged safely to the environment. BioteQ is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and trades on the TSX under the symbol BQE. For additional information, 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.