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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Copper: Latest News: March 5th 2008


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:: Pacific Ore JV to Study BioHeap Potential in China

A joint venture between Pacific Ore Ltd and the Shanghai-listed, Western Mining Joint Stock Company, is set to commission a full scale feasibility study into the development of a commercial scale Bioheap operation in Inner Mongolia.

Pacific Ore, a Northbridge-based nickel and uranium explorer, said the feasibility study would be conducted by the suitably qualified Engineering Institute in China with certain specialised test work to be completed at Pacific Ore's laboratory in Perth.

Preliminary discussions have been held with a number of engineering institutes and one will shortly be engaged to commence the feasibility study, the company said, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2008 and, subject to results, potentially lead to the company's first commercial operation being established.

The feasibility study will be funded on a 50/50 basis and the company's contribution to this cost will be met out of its existing cash reserves.

Whilst commercial proposals have not yet been received from any of the engineering institutes it is expected that the total cost of the feasibility study to the JV will not exceed US$1.5 million ($1.58 million).

The decision to commence a feasibility study followed a review of the operation of the JV's BioHeap demonstration plant which was commissioned at the Huogeqi site in June 2007.

The plant was commissioned to evaluate the effectiveness of combining bacterial oxidation, using the company's proprietary BioHeap technology, with heap leaching of chalcopyrite [copper] ore mined from the Huogeqi copper mine.

Pacific Ore said the demonstration plant had now continuously operated for eight months and continued to perform in line with expectations. Significantly, the period included an Inner Mongolian winter where the ambient temperature regularly falls to -30 C and below.

The joint venture has also committed to the construction of a copper cementation circuit to recover copper from solution currently being produced by the demonstration plant.

However, the company said that the full results from the demonstration plant were only expected to be available by October 2008 and these results are integral to the final feasibility study results.

Pacific Ore managing director Garry Frere said the company the decision by the JV was another validation of the company's BioHeap technology and was further evidence of the strength and continuing development of Pacific Ore's relationship with its joint venture partner WMC.




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