September 9, 2022 (Investorideas.com Newswire) BacTech Environmental Corp. realized much of the land for its Ecuador bioleaching plant isn’t needed yet, so it is letting local workers continue to farm thousands of cocoa trees.
While BacTech Environmental Corp. (BAC:CSE;BCCEF:OTC;OBT1:FRA) continues to wait for its environmental permit for its new bioleaching plant in Tenguel, Ecuador, the company is working with local farmers to make sure they can still farm their cocoa on the site.
The local government has not signaled any sign of opposition to the project – the plant’s construction permit was approved in March, and the company has signed an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) with the country for a 12-year income tax holiday.
But the company recognized that much of its 100-acre land package won’t be used for the plant, so it has made an agreement with the farmers to keep independently harvesting 80% of the farm’s thousands of cocoa trees.
Chris Temple, editor, and publisher of The National Investor, who follows the company, said Tenguel area residents do not appear to be opposed to the plant, but it’s good for the company to help the farmers. Another company he follows in Ecuador is supporting a soccer team and a dance troupe.
“You can never do too much,” Temple told Streetwise Reports.
But the move is timely. BacTech has reviewed and updated its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and uploaded the document to Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment for official approval, a catalyst that could come at any time. The ESIA includes studies of the project’s environmental, social, economic, and cultural implications.
The permit would help validate the project and make it more attractive to potential partners and investors, according to Temple.
BacTech President and Chief Executive Office Ross Orr said he came up with the idea for the cocoa trees on his very first visit to the site when the farmers approached company officials as they were about to tour the site. The workers seemed deflated when they were told the land might be sold.
“They assumed they were to be unemployed,” Orr said.
Orr said it took convincing some others in the company that it could be done, but it “can be a win-win for both sides. We don’t get branded with the negative corporate image most mining companies have.”
The farmers will remain independent of the company at this time and not be employees of BacTech. They have agreed to an extendable six-month contract where the workers would be offered future employment with the company if BacTech decides to expand the footprint of the plant, which Temple said would be lucrative for the workers.
“People who are employed by BacTech are going to make more money than any labor in pretty much the whole country,” Temple said.
BacTech said it also intends to return local miner compensation back to levels prior to recent import levies on arsenic/gold concentrates entering China.
Covered in the IPA agreement with Ecuador is $95.5 million in plant construction and gold activity through 2024 and additional investments and expansions.
Bioleaching: ‘Our Bugs Eat Rocks’
Using naturally occurring bacteria, BacTech likes to say, “Our bugs eat rocks.” The bioleaching makes it possible to work with lower-grade ore and recover metals from tailings sites and mines. The bacteria chew and oxidize the sulfides in the rock like mortar in a brick wall, Orr said. Once the mortar is gone, the wall crashes down.
Bioleaching was first attempted commercially in South Africa in 1986. There have been more than 20 plants built globally since then.
BacTech announced this summer that it had signed letters of intent with several mining cooperatives to deliver up to 58 tonnes per day (tpd) of gold concentrates to be processed at the new plant. The agreements cover arsenopyrite gold concentrates from three mines and processors.
To add more feed to the plant, there are 90 small mines in the area that produce significant amounts of arsenic with gold in the area. It would process about 30,000 ounces of gold a year. The total availability of materials in the area is an estimated 250 tonnes tpd.
The plant would have pre-tax earnings of about $10.9 million and a two-year payback period, according to data from EPCM Consultores.
The company has also opened a pilot facility to recover nickel, cobalt, iron, and a geopolymer product from pyrrhotite concentrates produced over the last century in Ontario.
Nearly half of the company, 49%, is held by insiders, management, and strategic shareholders, the biggest of which is Option Three Advisory Services Ltd., which owns 9.05%, or 15.57 million shares, according to Reuters. That also includes CEO Orr, who owns 3.8% or 6.54 million shares, and Board Director Timothy Lewin, who owns 0.57% or 0.98 million shares.
The company has 172 million shares outstanding, including 147.7 million free floating. Its market cap is CA$15.62 million, and it trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.17 and CA$0.08.
1) Steve Sobek wrote this article for Streetwise Reports LLC. He or members of his household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He or members of his household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in this article are billboard sponsors of Streetwise Reports: BacTech Environmental Corp. Click here for important disclosures about sponsor fees. The information provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security. As of the date of this article, an affiliate of Streetwise Reports has a consulting relationship with BacTech Environmental Corp. Please click here for more information.
4) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned. Directors, officers, employees or members of their immediate families are prohibited from making purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise from the time of the decision to publish an article until three business days after the publication of the article. The foregoing prohibition does not apply to articles that in substance only restate previously published company releases. As of the date of this article, officers and/or employees of Streetwise Reports LLC (including members of their household) own securities of BacTech Environmental Corp., a company mentioned in this article.
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