Biomining and Bioleaching SARDAR HUSSAIN In . Bioleaching where microorganisms are used to facilitate the mining of metals. For biomining specialized microorganisms are used in order to recover valuable metals from ores via bioleaching. Important leaching bacteria are aerobic. Microbial Leaching (Bioleaching, Biomining). Microbial leaching is the process by which metals are dissolved from ore bearing rocks using microorganisms.

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Some microbes can use stable metals such as ironcopperzincand gold as well as unstable atoms such as uranium and thorium. Microbes will oxidize sulfur. This page was last edited on 5 Decemberat Most current biomining operations target valuable metals like copper, uranium, nickel, and gold that are commonly found in sulfidic sulfur-bearing minerals.

Bioleaching – Wikipedia

These metal extractions can be performed in situ or ex bioleacing where in situ is preferred since it is less expensive to excavate the substrate. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Biomining is currently a small part of the overall mining industry. What happens before, during, and after mining? Copper is the oxidising agent it accepts electronsand iron is the reducing agent it loses electrons.

What processes are used to biomine? Related Frequently Asked Questions. In addition to copper and gold production, biomining is also used to produce cobalt, nickel, zinc, and uranium.

Biomining: metal recovery from ores with microorganisms.

What are the environmental risks of biomining? Up to now, biomining has merely been used as a procedure in the processing of sulfide ores and uranium ore, but laboratory and pilot procedures already exist for the processing of silicate and oxide ores e. Some microbes can oxidize those metals, allowing them to dissolve in water. In Europe, the BIOMOre project is studying the feasibility of biomining deep underground to avoid having to excavate the rocks themselves.


Gold is frequently found in nature associated with minerals containing arsenic and pyrite. However, this process can also be usefully exploited when controlled. Nonetheless, at the largest copper mine of the world, Escondida in Chile the process seems to be favorable. Biohydrometallurgy is an emerging trend in biomining in which commercial mining plants operate continuously stirred tank reactor STR and the airlift reactor ALR or pneumatic reactor PR of the Pachuca type to extract the low concentration mineral resources efficiently.

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. Fungi can be grown on many different substrates, such as electronic scrapcatalytic convertersand fly ash from municipal waste incineration. Current Opinion in Biotechnology.

Microbes are especially good at oxidizing sulfidic minerals, converting metals like iron and copper into forms that can dissolve more easily. Electrons are pulled off of sulfur metal through oxidation and then put onto iron, producing reducing equivalents in the cell in the process. 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.


The potential of thermophilic sulfide-oxidizing archaea in copper extraction has attracted interest due to the efficient extraction of metals from sulfide ores that are recalcitrant to dissolution. Biomining is an environmentally friendly technique compared to typical mining.

Metal Bioleaching (Biomining)

This form of leaching does not rely on bioleachlng oxidation of metal but rather uses microbial metabolism as source of acids that directly dissolve the metal. 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. The ore minerals of the metals copper, nickel, cobalt, and zinc occur in nature mainly as metal sulfides.

Additional capabilities include the bioleaching of metals from sulfide ores, phosphate ores, and concentrating of metals from solution. Traces of precious metals such as gold may be left in the original solution.

What is biomining? | American Geosciences Institute

The liquid is then pumped back to the top of the pile and the cycle is repeated. Several species of fungi can be used for bioleaching. He discovered that the bacteria grew faster and were more motile in high iron concentrations. These organisms secrete different organic compounds that chelate bioldaching from the environment and bring it back to the cell where they are typically used to coordinate electrons.