TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Vancouver-based BioteQ Environmental Technologies on Friday told Mining Weekly Online that it had entered into another joint venture (JV) partnership with China’s largest copper miner to build a wastewater treatment plant to extract heavy metals.
BioteQ CEO Jonathan Wilkinson said this would be the fourth metals extraction plant using its proprietary technology to be constructed at the Jiangxi Copper Company’s (JCC’s) Dexing mine site, in the south-east of China.
Under the terms of the JV, BioteQ and Jiangxi would equally share in the C$3.2-million capital cost to construct the tailings treatment facility, as well as share in the profit generated from the operations.
Wilkinson said the JV relationship had already existed from 2006, when construction of the first copper extraction plant was started, and was followed by a nickel and cobalt extraction plant. The new plant would be a copper extraction plant.
During construction, BioteQ would contribute to the engineering design and would work with JCC personnel on the procurement of key process equipment. JCC would provide all permits and manage site construction.
Staff from the existing JV would provide commissioning and operating services.
Construction was slated for completion by July 2013.
“Our technology assists JCC to address additional water treatment needs and to meet environmental requirements, while at the same time, we are assisting JCC in increasing resource recovery at the Dexing site,” Wilkinson, who had been leading the company for a year, said.
BioteQ estimated the new copper recovery plant would generate revenues of between $2.5-million and $3-million a year on current copper prices, of which $1.25-million to $1.5-million would accrue to BioteQ.
One copper plant, using the company’s ChemSulphide technology, could recover between 2-million and 2.5-million pounds of copper a year. The company’s nickel plant makes use of its proprietary ion-exchange technology.
Wilkinson explained the new project would build on the strong working relationship the company has with JCC, and could open new possibilities for BioteQ to enter into other JV agreements with other Chinese companies.
“We have operational plants to showcase to the world and, indeed, we are focusing our attention on developing the wastewater treatment market in Chile and Peru, where environmental enforcement is increasing the relevance of our technology,” he said.
The new plant will be designed to treat up to 24 000 m3/d of water and remove about 900 000 pounds of copper from the environment, in a form that could be refined into useful products. The 40% to 45% copper concentrate would be sold to JCC’s refinery at market prices, with the advantage of reduced transportation and refining costs.
The operating costs for the new plant were expected to be similar to the current operation, which had a production cost of about $1.50/lb of copper recovered.
The Toronto-listed company, which had a market capitalisation of C$10.84-million, traded at 15.5 Canadian cents apiece on Friday.