Microbial Leaching (Bioleaching, Biomining). Microbial leaching is the process by which metals are dissolved from ore bearing rocks using microorganisms. Biomining is a technique of extracting metals from ores and other solid materials typically using . Additional capabilities include the bioleaching of metals from sulfide materials, phosphate ore bioprocessing, and the bioconcentration of metals. Bioleaching is the extraction of metals from their ores through the use of living organisms. This is much cleaner than the traditional heap leaching using cyanide .

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There is a limited amount of ores.

During metal sulfide oxidation sulfur compounds and elemental sulfur occur. Nonetheless, at the largest copper mine of the world, Escondida in Chile the process seems to be favorable.

Steps towards a Deeper Understanding”. Valuable metals are commonly bound up in solid minerals. Gold is frequently found in nature associated with minerals containing arsenic and pyrite. Retrieved from ” https: Economically it is also very expensive and many companies once started can not keep bioleachinb with the demand and end up in debt.

Biomining – Wikipedia

The profit obtained from the speed and yield of smelting justifies its cost. Use the lead layout guide to ensure the section follows Wikipedia’s norms and to be inclusive of all essential details. Furthermore biomining is applied for the recovery of gold, cobalt, nickel, zinc and uranium. This discovery lead to the development of complex modern biomining systems. The ligand-copper complex is extracted from the solution using an organic solvent such as kerosene:.

Because these types of organisms are already common in the environment, the risks from the release of the microbes themselves into the local environment are considered to be relatively small.

What is biomining?

The development of industrial mineral processing using microorganisms has been established now in several countries including South Africa, Brazil and Australia. He discovered that the bacteria grew faster and were more motile in high iron concentrations. The potential applications of biomining are countless. These microorganisms over time have developed metabolic networks that can utilize hydrocarbons such as oil and petroleum as a source of carbon and energy. Geobiotechnology I – Metal-related Issues, A.


The same concept can be used for bioremediation models. Retrieved from ” https: World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. The byproducts of the bacterial growth caused the media to turn very acidic, in which the microorganisms still thrived. This is shown in this figure. The development of industrial mineral processing has been established now in several countries including South AfricaBrazil and Australia.

An electric current is passed through the resulting solution of copper ions. What happens before, during, and after mining? Microbes are especially good at oxidizing sulfidic minerals, converting metals like iron and copper into forms that can dissolve more easily.

Most current biomining operations target valuable metals like copper, uranium, nickel, and gold that are commonly found in sulfidic sulfur-bearing minerals. Some examples of past projects in biotechnology include a biologically assisted in situ mining program, biodegradation methods, passive bioremediation of acid rock drainage, and bioleaching of ores and concentrates.

Other metals, like gold, are not directly dissolved by this microbial process, but are made more accessible to traditional mining techniques because the minerals surrounding these metals are dissolved and removed by microbial processes. It was discovered in the mid s that microorganisms use metals in the cell. Projects like Finnish Talvivaara proved to be environmentally and economically disastrous. Because this complex has no chargeit is no longer attracted to polar water molecules and dissolves in the kerosene, which is then easily separated from the solution.

The electrons pass into the cells and are used in biochemical processes to produce energy for the bacteria while reducing oxygen to water. What processes are used to biomine? This yields soluble products that can be further purified and refined to yield the desired metal. Effect of elevated pressure on ferric iron reduction coupled to sulfur oxidation by biomining microorganisms. The critical reaction is the oxidation of sulfide by ferric iron. Can we mitigate environmental impacts from mining?


By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. These microbes can be used to remove metals from the soil or water.


Companies can now grow large chemostats of microbes that are leaching metals from their media, these vats of culture can then be transformed into many marketable metal compounds. These are microbially oxidized to sulfuric acid, whereby the acid milieu is generated.

The sulfur containing ore pyrite FeS 2 is at the start of this process. This risk can be managed by ensuring that biomining is conducted under controlled conditions with proper sealing and waste management protocols.

What is biomining? | American Geosciences Institute

Biomining techniques may also be used to clean up sites that have been polluted with metals. This page was last edited on 15 Decemberat These metal extractions can be performed in situ or ex situ where in situ is preferred since it is less expensive to excavate the substrate.

Recent Advances in Acidophile Microbiology: The process for copper is very similar, but the efficiency and kinetics depend on the copper mineralogy. The most common processes used in biomining are: Other uses of biomining New biomining techniques that do not involve oxidation are being tested, which would enable large-scale biomining for different types of minerals and metals.

Normally bioleachinh is shielded from contact with oxygen and not accessible for microorganisms.