had just received its long-awaited environmental license from the government of Ecuador, a major milestone for its planned bioleaching plant when the country fell into civil unrest last month.
Violence driven by drug gangs, including an incident where masked criminals invaded a TV station, paralyzed the port city of Guayaquil last month. New President Daniel Noboa is fighting the situation with a state of emergency and martial law.
But the country "has shown unexpected resilience" since then, according to Brian Winter, writing for Americas Quarterly.
A poll taken in mid-January on Noboa showed him with almost an 80% approval rate, Winter reported.
"Ecuadoreans are deeply worried. They fear they could lose their country," Quito-based journalist Maria Teresa Escobar told Winter. But people are also "optimistic . . . because, for the first time, a government recognizes that this is not a (normal) crisis, but an internal and very violent conflict. That brings hope."
Interior Remains 'Relatively Calm'
BacTech Chief Executive Officer Ross Orr said one of the company's managers lives in Machala, one of the cities close to Tenguel, where the company's plant is to be built.
Orr said his description of the situation there was "quite encouraging."
"On a positive note, the interior of the country remains relatively calm," Orr said. "In fact, many areas have lifted their curfews as violence has significantly decreased. Even in Machala, … the official alert level has been reduced."
He praised Noboa, 35, and "extended our best wishes to him as he endeavors to steer Ecuador back on the right track."
The Catalyst: Alleged Drug Lords Arrested
Police also have arrested two major alleged drug lords recently, including Carlos Arturo Landazuri, "El Gringo," considered Columbia's most wanted man, on January 24 in Ibarra. Henry Loaiza, "El Alcrán," was arrested last week in Guayaquil.
District Police Commander William Villarroel told the website Cuenca High Life that Loaiza's arrest is a "major accomplishment" in Ecuador's fight against narco-traffickers.
Loaiza had been living in Guayaquil for several months and is believed to have ordered at least five murders of rival gang leaders in Ecuador, Villarroel said.
On Monday, Jeri Clausing, writing for Travel Weekly, said the situation in the capital of Quito "revealed a situation markedly different from the sensational headlines about the state of emergency."
"While much of the country, which is unaccustomed to such brazen and public gang violence, went into a self-imposed lockdown, and a few cruises were canceled or altered in the initial days after the attacks, life outside of Guayaquil last week felt just as safe and friendly as when I was here two years ago," Clausing wrote.
In a statement, Niels Olsen, Ecuador's tourism minister, said: "Tourist areas, including the Galapagos Islands, have maintained their usual tranquility."
Company Discovered a 'Gem'
BacTech's bioleaching process uses naturally occurring bacteria, harmless to humans and the environment, to extract precious and base metals from ores, concentrates, and tailings. Its motto is "Our bugs eat rocks."
The rocks are like bricks in a wall, with sulfur as the mortar. The bacteria eat the sulfur, causing the wall to come crashing down.
The company has launched a new sustainable framework for issuing US$20 million in Green Bonds to pay for the plant.
"We've discovered a gem in Ecuador," Orr said. "While governments may change, environmental issues persist until addressed. I firmly believe that Ecuador is just the first in a series of successes that will follow once we demonstrate the capabilities of our technology."
Chris Temple of The National Investor, a supporter and shareholder of the company, has called the company "a poster child for what is legitimately a green cause."
Streetwise Ownership Overview*
Ecuador's small mines, including 90 in the area of the plant that produce significant amounts of arsenic with gold, will be the feed for the plant, which would process about 30,900 ounces gold (Au) per year. There is potential for expansion; the total availability of materials in the area is an estimated 250 tonnes per day.
Ownership and Share Structure
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 8.48%, or 15.57 million shares, according to Reuters. That also includes CEO Orr, who owns 3.57% or 6.54 million shares, and Board Director Timothy Lewin, who owns 0.54% or 0.98 million shares.
The rest is retail.
The company has 193.04 million shares outstanding, including 159.12 million free floating. Its market cap is CA$11.12 million, and it trades in a 52-week range of CA$0.10 and CA$0.055.
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- BacTech Environmental Corp. is a billboard sponsor of Streetwise Reports and pays SWR a monthly sponsorship fee between US$4,000 and US$5,000. BacTech Environmental Corp. has a consulting relationship with an affiliate of Streetwise Reports, and pays a monthly consulting fee between US$8,000 and US$20,000.
- 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.
- Steve Sobek wrote this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an employee.
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