Toronto company looks to extract billions in value from Sudbury mine waste (CBC News Sudbury – June 7, 2022)

BacTec estimates there is $27 billion worth of nickel in Greater Sudbury’s mine waste

A Toronto-based environmental technology company is working on a pilot project in Sudbury to separate valuable minerals from mine waste with bacteria.

BacTech Environmental Corporation plans to have its pilot plant in Sudbury operational by July, and will use a process called bioleaching to extract minerals like nickel and cobalt from mine tailings. Tailings are the waste material that’s left over after minerals are extracted from a mine.

The company estimates that over 100 years of mining, $27 billion worth of nickel sits in Greater Sudbury’s large tailings areas. Until recently, it was not economically viable to extract the valuable material.

But with new bioleaching technology, BacTech hopes to prove it can be done at a large scale, and make economic sense. To extract the metals they take tailings rock called concentrate and put it in large stainless steel tanks. Over a six-day period, bacteria in the tanks separate the valuable metals from the rock.

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