Outotec acquires Sudbury’s Kovit, Biomin’s bioleaching technology

In two separate deals, Finnish mining services provider Outotec (HEL: OTE1V) is buying Sudbury-based tailings management specialist Kovit Engineering and Biomin South Aftica for its gold processing technology.

Outotec expects Kovit to enhance its pre-existing dewatering and tailings treatment business.

“Effective and safe disposal of mining wastes presents technical and environmental challenges, Outotec CEO Pertti Korhonen said. “This acquisition of Kovit Engineering will strengthen our position as a provider of sustainable and water-efficient tailings management solutions to the mining industry.”

Kovit was founded in 2011 by engineers Frank Palkovits, Paul Rantala, Steve Reichle and Mark Wallgren. Since then it has worked on a portfolio of global mining projects. In a statement Outotec said Kovit employs 30 specialists in the Sudbury area and generates annual sales in the range of $7 million to $15 million. 

To enhance its gold processing technologies, Outotec is buying  a majority stake in Biomin South Africa and related assets from Switzerland-based Biomin Technologies.

With the acquisition Outotec will get full intellectual property and marketing rights for the BioX bioleaching technology, which is used to extract gold from refractory ores.

Outotec says refractory gold ore is being increasingly exploited. “Twenty percent of the world’s current gold projects and a third of upcoming projects are based on refractory ore that needs to be pre-treated before the leaching process,” the company said. “There are three main pretreatment methods for refractory gold ores: pressure oxidation, roasting and bioleaching. BioX is proven technology for bioleaching.”

BioX technology was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by South African miner Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI), which spun out the company in 2013. As of 2012, the process has produced 22 million oz. gold.

Outotec employs 5,000 people and could make $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion in 2015. At press time the firm had a $1.5-billion market capitalization.


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