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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The critical reaction is the oxidation of sulfide by ferric iron. The net products of the reaction are soluble ferrous sulfate and sulfuric acid. Leaching times vary from days to months, making this process slower than conventional mineral extraction techniques.

Implementation of biological and chemical techniques to recover metals from copper-rich leach solutions. Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Metal Bioleaching (Biomining)

In subsequent studies the dissimulatory iron-reducing archaea Pyrococcus furiosus and Biolaching islandicum were shown to reduce gold chloride to insoluble gold. This risk can be managed by ensuring that biomining is conducted under controlled conditions with proper sealing and waste management protocols.

This yields soluble products that can be further purified and refined to yield the desired metal. Biotechnology Economic geology Metallurgical processes Applied microbiology.

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. During metal sulfide oxidation sulfur compounds and elemental sulfur occur.


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

Nonetheless, at the largest copper mine of the world, Escondida in Chile the process seems to be favorable. Projects like Finnish Talvivaara proved to be environmentally and economically disastrous. This form of leaching does not rely on microbial oxidation of metal but rather uses microbial metabolism as source of acids that directly dissolve the metal.

Iron-and sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms are used to release occluded coppergold and uranium from mineral sulfides. Most current biomining operations use naturally occurring microbial communities. The resulting electrons will reduce iron, releasing energy that can be used by the cell. Iron-and sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms are used to release copper, gold and uranium from minerals. 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.

Some researchers and companies are testing the use of biomining for recycling, to recover valuable elements from wastewater and electronic waste. The ligand-copper complex is extracted from the solution using an organic solvent such as kerosene:.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This step is entirely independent of microbes. This page was last edited on 5 Decemberat This is the basic bioleachng behind most biomining, which is used for metals that can be more easily recovered when dissolved than from the solid rocks.

Skip to main content. Biominibg are especially good at oxidizing sulfidic minerals, converting metals like iron and copper into forms that can dissolve more easily.


The gold is removed from the solution by adsorbing taking it up on the surface to charcoal. Current Opinion in Biotechnology.

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Bioleaching – Wikipedia

In general, sulfides are first oxidized to elemental sulfur, whereas disulfides are oxidized to give thiosulfateand the processes above can be applied to other sulfidic ores. Retrieved from ” https: The electrons pass into the cells and are used in biochemical processes to produce energy for the bacteria while reducing oxygen to water.

What role does recycling play in our metal supply?

Not to be confused with Bioprospecting. Bacteria can be inoculated into environments contaminated with metals, oils, or other toxic compounds. The copper is removed by bonding to a ligand, which is a large molecule consisting of a number of smaller groupseach possessing a lone electron pair.

What is biomining?

The microbial oxidation process occurs at the cell membrane of the bacteria. For this, processes already exist in laboratory scale and further work is carried out in the geomicrobiology laboratory of BGR, mainly within the frame of third-party funded projects. This oxidation relies on a combination of chemically and microbiologically catalyzed processes.

These systems can be used wnd bioremediation, biohydrometallurgy, or even extracting metals from ores for commercial amd. Can we mitigate environmental impacts from mining?