VANCOUVER, B.C.– BioteQ Environmental Technologies, Inc. (TSX: BQE), a leader in the treatment of industrial waste water, has provided an interim update on plant operations and development projects, and revised its guidance for 2011.
The Raglan plant in Quebec has treated over 674,000 cubic meters of water to the end of September, with revenues and operating costs in line with budget expectations. The plant is on track to meet the budget expectation of 1 million cubic meters of water treated for the 2011 operating season. Revenues from this operation are based on fees charged per cubic meter of water treated.
The Minto plant in the Yukon has remained in stand-by for the operating season at the request of the site owner, due to changes in treatment requirements at the site. Revenues and cash flow from this operation will not meet expected projections for the year. BioteQ is working with Minto Explorations to evaluate additional treatment module options to address recent changes in the site’s water use license. BioteQ’s contract at the site includes a minimum fee guarantee for stand-by services.
The Bisbee plant in Arizona returned to full production in July and produced 120,000 pounds of copper to the end of September. From July to December, the plant is expected to recover 325,000 pounds of copper for the year, at an estimated cost of $2.75 per pound of copper produced.
The Dexing plant in China has produced approximately 1.5 million pounds of copper in the first nine months of the year, at an average operating cost of $1.50 per pound of copper. The plant is expected to produce 1.8 million pounds of copper this year, in line with budgeted expectations.
Revenue from the Bisbee and Dexing sites are driven by the sale of recovered copper at market prices on the date of sale. During the first eight months of 2011, the average monthly closing price of copper on the LME exchange was approximately US$4.26 per pound, which was in line with the Company’s budgeted expectations for 2011. During the month of September, copper prices were extremely volatile and closed at a price of US$3.24 per pound as of September 30. Continued weakness in copper prices would have an adverse impact on revenue from these sites for the remainder of 2011. BioteQ management has assumed lower pricing for copper in developing updated financial guidance.
As was outlined by Management during the Q2 conference call, BioteQ’s sales pipeline is strong and continues to grow. In aggregate, projects that could move to contract within the next 3 years have a total estimated capital value of $175 million. These projects, which are expected to generate new fee-based revenue opportunities during 2012 to 2014, are subject to customer approvals at key milestones. The status of a number of these projects is outlined below:
Commissioning of a new ion exchange plant continues at the Dexing site. The new plant is expected to recover approximately 62,000 pounds of nickel and 72,000 pounds of cobalt annually when it ramps up to full production. Commissioning is expected to be completed by December of this year.
- BioteQ has completed the engineering review of the Kinross Maricunga SART plant. BioteQ is contracted to provide commissioning and operator training services when the plant construction is complete next spring.
- BioteQ has initiated site due diligence, testing and engineering work to establish design criteria and pricing for a new SART project with a European engineering firm for a gold mine site in central Asia. This stage of work is expected to be complete by the end of October. Plant construction, scheduled for 2012, is subject to customer approval.
- Engineering has been completed for a mobile Sulf-IX™ plant for Newalta. Plant construction is expected to commence later this year.
- Engineering has been completed for a 6,500 m3/day zinc recovery plant for a Canadian-based gold mining company; this project was originally anticipated to advance to construction this year; however, the customer has delayed initiation of the project due to competing priorities.
- Engineering is in progress for an arsenic removal plant for EcoMetales. The plant design is expected to be complete by the end of October. Plant construction is subject to final approval by EcoMetales.
- Engineering has been completed for a molybdenum recovery plant for EcoMetales. BioteQ had anticipated that this project would proceed to construction in 2011; however, the customer has placed the project on hold, pending stabilization in commodity prices and a review of potential capital cost savings.
- In addition to the projects noted above, BioteQ has an additional 10 projects in the advanced stages of proposal assessment and development, and a further 15 projects in the initial stages of evaluation. Additional details will be provided via press release as specific projects advance.
At the beginning of 2011, the Company had anticipated revenue growth of 25 percent in 2011 and cash flow from operations (before changes in non-cash working capital) to be at a break-even level. These expectations were based on assumptions relating to the number of active plant operations, copper pricing, the volume of water treated, and additional contracts associated with new projects in development.
The Company is now revising this guidance, based on recent softening of copper prices, lower than expected copper production at the Bisbee plant, and unanticipated delays in customer schedules that have affected the contracting of new projects.
Based on current estimates, total revenue from current projects and operations for 2011 will be in the range of $6.5 million to $7.5 million dollars, a decrease of approximately 20% from 2010. Revenue up-side may be possible if new projects from the business development pipeline are confirmed before the year end. Excluding one-time transition related costs, cash used for operations, before changes in non-cash working capital, are expected to be in the range of $2.3 million to $2.8 million. One-time costs related to CEO transition and CEO recruitment are approximately $700,000, bringing total expected cash use to $3 million to $3.5 million in 2011. General and administrative expenses are expected to increase 5% to 10% from Q2 2011 levels on an ongoing basis to fund business growth.
BioteQ Corporate Profile
BioteQ creates custom water treatment solutions to recover dissolved metals and remove sulphate from water impacted by mining, energy and industrial activities. The company’s clean technologies convert wastewater into a useful resource while delivering lower life cycle costs for water treatment. BioteQ has designed and built 14 plants at sites in Canada, the US, Mexico, Australia and China, with additional projects in development.
BioteQ’s sustainable water treatment solutions have been recognized with national and international awards for innovation and sustainability. BioteQ is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and trades on the TSX under the symbol BQE. For additional information, please visit our website at www.bqewater.com.
The Toronto Stock Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of this release.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
Except for statements of historical fact relating to the Company, certain information contained herein constitutes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 21E of the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are frequently characterized by words such as “plan,” “expect,” “project,” “intend,” “believe,” “anticipate” and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions “might” or “will” occur. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the statements are made, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These factors include the inherent risks involved in the development, construction and operation of water treatment plants, variations in water quality, fluctuating metal prices, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs and expenses, uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future and other factors described in the section entitled “Risks” in the Company’s Annual Report for the Year Ended December 31, 2010. Circumstances or management’s estimates or opinions could change. The reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.