Laurentian University microbiologist Nadia Mykytczuk has been named to the strategic advisory board of BacTech Environmental, a Toronto 'green' mining technology company with ambitious plans to recover precious metals in South America.
For the past 15 years, Mykytczuk has worked in the field of mine waste microbiology and is considered an expert in biomining and bioremediation.
Her research at Laurentian, primarily focuses on cultivating microbes to break down toxic material at mine waste sites and harness them to extract precious metals.
Mykytczuk has worked with BacTech for a decade to further develop its proprietary process that uses harmless and naturally occurring bacteria, inside fermentation tanks, to recover gold from ore and stabilize harmful materials like arsenic. The remaining material is left benign and is (U.S.) EPA approved for use as fill material.
BacTech is out to raise money to build a commercial-scale bioleaching plant in Ecuador, in a mining region where arsenic is known to exist in gold ore. In Ponce Enriquez, the company wants to build a 50-tonne-per-day plant capable of treating gold concentrates containing arsenic. The proposed plant would produce 26,000 ounces of gold a year.
BacTech believes their method has legs to be applied in other mining regions of the continent such as Peru, Colombia, and Central America, especially to tackle mine waste tailings areas where contaminants have created hazardous environmental legacy issues.
Mykytczuk wants to built a pilot-scale plant with BacTech in Sudbury to treat one tonne per day of material brought in from South America.
The BacTech news release said she'll work with the company's scientific team to support efforts for the pilot plant, along with exploring other uses of the company's technology.
"I've worked on collaborative research projects with BacTech for over 10 years and I am fully supportive of seeing its commercial applications for different types of sulphide ores amenable to bioleaching succeed and take shape around the world,” Mykytczuk said in a news release.
“With the increasing demand for metals, we need to look at low grade materials like tailings as a viable source of mineral resources, and in the process, help clean up legacy issues that have long challenged the mining industry and communities. I am happy to be joining as an advisory committee member and look forward to supporting the expansion of projects in Ecuador and elsewhere."
Mykytczuk is a "great addition" to the board, said BacTech president Ross Orr in a statement.
“She is well-respected and highly connected throughout the mining industry, and already knows BacTech’s vision and technology well. I expect Nadia’s contributions will be both immediate and impactful.”
In late June, Mykytczuk was named interim CEO and President of MIRARCO at Laurentian, a mining research and innovation institute. She replaced Jennifer Abols, whose has taken a job in the private sector.
From 2016 to 2021, Mykytczuk held the role of Industrial Research Chair in Biomining, Bioremediation, and Science Communication at Laurentian University.