Outotec has agreed to acquire the majority of shares in Biomin South Africa Pty. Ltd. and certain assets from Biomin Technologies S.A. in Switzerland. With this acquisition, Outotec gets the full intellectual property and marketing rights of BIOX bioleaching technology, which is a proven method for the treatment of refractory gold ores. The value of the transaction was not disclosed and the deal is expected to close soon.

The BIOX technology complements Outotec’s portfolio of gold processing technologies, according to the company. Gold ore bodies are becoming more complex to treat and consist of refractory ores as the less refractory gold ores become depleted. Roughly 20% 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. There are three main pre-treatment methods for refractory gold ores, including pressure oxidation, roasting and bioleaching.

“A significant challenge for gold mining companies is to find an economically viable process to treat more complex ore bodies. This acquisition will strengthen Outotec’s position in the refractory gold ore processing market. Combining the BIOX bioleaching expertise with our engineering capabilities and proprietary equipment, such as grinding mills, reactors and thickeners, we intend to provide gold producers complete sustainable plants with life-cycle services,” said Outotec CEO Pertti Korhonen.