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Abstract

Dumping of poor but metal containing industrial waste is associated with several environmental issues. Exposure of these wastes to the natural environment offers serious concerns for the mineral processing industries to utilize them for metal recovery and check environmental pollution. In the present study, a novel sequential bioreduction-bioleaching and bioreduction-chemical leaching route as a hybrid process is compared and discussed for the enhanced recovery of copper from an industrial concentrator plant ball milling unit rejected sample. A mixed consortium of metal reducing bacteria (DMRB) initially adapted to high Fe(III) concentrations was found to cause mineralogical/matrix alteration (possibly silicate weathering) including Fe(III) bioreduction in the sample and dissolute 29.73% copper during the first 35 days under facultative anaerobic conditions. Sequential leaching of the bioreduced waste sample (generated from the first step) using a mixed meso-acidophilic bacterial consortium predominantly Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans showed additional 28.72% copper dissolution within 2 days using 1 gL- 1 Fe(II). On the other hand, a comparative chemical leaching of the same bioreduced sample using 0.5 M H2SO4 yielded additional 32.17% copper within 4 days of leaching and indicated better performance than the bioleaching tests.

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... In addition, the reported potentialities of occurred microbial community for toxic metal(loid)s bioremediation were summarized in Table S6. The main functions of microbes for promoting toxic metal (loid)s leach and mobility were sulfide oxidation, iron-manganese oxide reduction, arsenic reduction, siderophores, biosurfactant and organic acid-promoted dissolution (Din et al., 2020;Osman et al., 2019;Panda et al., 2015;Vera et al., 2013;Juwarkar et al., 2008;Makita et al., 2004). Besides, microbial function including sulfate reduction, oxidation of iron and manganese, As oxidation and biomineralization mediated by phosphatase and urease could all promote the immobilization of toxic metal(loid)s (Zeng et al., 2021;Jiang et al., 2019b;Jong and Parry, 2005;Gadd, 2000). ...
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Bioleaching studies for chalcopyrite contained ball mill spillages are very scarce in the literature. We developed a process flow sheet for the recovery of copper metal from surface activated (600 A degrees C, 15 min) ball mill spillage through bio-hydrometallurgical processing route. Bioleaching of the activated sample using a mixed meso-acidophilic bacterial consortium predominantly A. ferrooxidans strains was found to be effective at a lixiviant flow rate of 1.5 L/h, enabling a maximum 72.36% copper recovery in 20 days. Mineralogical as well as morphological changes over the sample surface were seen to trigger the bioleaching efficiency of meso-acidophiles, thereby contributing towards an enhanced copper recovery from the ball mill spillage. The bio-leach liquor containing 1.84 g/L Cu was purified through solvent extraction using LIX 84I in kerosene prior to the recovery of copper metal by electrowinning. Purity of the copper produced through this process was 99.99%.
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Using IR absorption data from polarized measurements on single-crystal minerals with stoichiometric water contents (in the form of H 2 O or OH groups in the structure), a linear calibration curve (r 2 nearly equal 0.98) for water in minerals is established in the form: epsilon i , (the integrated molar absorption coefficient in units of cm (super -2) per mol H 2 O/L) = 246.6(3753 - upsilon ) (upsilon = the mean wavenumber of the OH stretching band [in cm (super -1) ]). The investigated minerals include hydrogrossular, analcime, hemimorphite and its dehydrated phase, lawsonite, goethite, diaspore, manganite, mozartite, and pectolite. The influence of hydrogen bonding, leading to increased absorption values with lower OH stretching band energies, is confirmed. It is further shown that only the use of integrated absorbance values (band areas) results in a linear correlation with water content, whereas linear absorption data (peak heights) are not correlated. The calibration agrees with previously published quantitative IR data on staurolite and trace H in pyroxenes. It is also close to the frequently used trend of Paterson (1982). However, some of the previous calibrations of trace H in nominally anhydrous minerals, e.g., kyanite and pyrope, differ appreciably from the correlation derived from stoichiometrically hydrous minerals.
Article
Liming is a known forest management procedure used to amend nutrient-poor soils such as soils of acidic forests to rectify cation deficiencies and to restore soil pH. However, although this procedure is well known for its beneficial effect on the forest trees, its relative impact on the functional and taxonomic diversity of the soil bacterial communities has been poorly investigated. In this study, we characterized the ability of the soil bacteria to weather soil minerals and to hydrolyze chitin. A collection of 80 bacterial strains was isolated from the Scleroderma citrinum ectomycorrhizosphere and the adjacent bulk soil in two stands of mature beeches (Fagus sylvatica) developed on very acidic soil and presenting two levels of calcium (Ca) availability: a control plot as well as a plot amended with Ca in 1973. All the bacterial isolates were identified by partial 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis as members of the genera Burkholderia, Bacillus, Dyella, Kitasatospora, Micrococcus, Paenibacillus, Pseudomonas, and Rhodanobacter. Using a microplate assay for quantifying the production of protons and the quantity of iron released from biotite, we demonstrated that the bacterial strains from the amended plot harbored a significant higher mineral weathering potential that the ones isolated from the control plot. Notably, the weathering efficacy of the ectomycorrhizosphere bacterial isolates was significantly greater than that of the bulk soil isolates in the control treatment but not in the amended plot. These data reveal that forest management, here mineral amendment, can strongly affect the structure of bacterial communities even over the long term.
Article
The effect of an adapted Dissimilatory Iron Reducing bacterial consortium (DIRB) towards bio-reduction of Sukinda Chromite overburden (COB) with enhanced recovery of nickel and cobalt is being reported for the first time. The remarkable ability of DIRB to utilize Fe (III) as terminal electron acceptor reducing it to Fe (II) proved beneficial for treatment of COB as compared to previous reports for nickel leaching. XRD studies showed goethite as the major iron-bearing phase in COB. Under facultative anaerobic conditions, goethite was reduced to hematite and magnetite with the exposure of nickel oxide. FESEM studies showed DIRB to be associated with COB through biofilm formation with secondary mineral precipitates of magnetite deposited as tiny globular clusters on the extra polymeric substances. The morphological and mineralogical changes in COB, post DIRB application, yielded a maximum of 68.5% Nickel and 80.98% Cobalt in 10 days using 8M H2SO4.
Article
This study investigates the biooxidation of a refractory gold concentrate using a mixed culture of acidophilic mesophiles, moderate thermophiles and extreme thermophiles and their effect on the subsequent cyanidation and gold recovery. The experiments with high % solids using mixed mesophiles showed better oxidation potential compared to moderate thermophiles and extreme thermophiles. However, the extreme thermophiles performed better than mesophiles and moderate thermophiles during the biooxidation with
Article
Heap bioleaching of low grade chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) was carried out in 1000 tons scale over a time period of 383 days. Bacterial solution was prepared and re‐circulated in specially designed BACFOX (BACterial Film OXidation) tank. The micro‐organisms used in the pilot scale were a mixed culture of acidophilic bacteria predominantly of the Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strain. Effect of rest period, solution recirculation, acid concentration, frequency of solution transfers and seasonal effects on copper recoveryweremonitored. The leaching studies showed a cumulative copper dissolution rate of 0.14% per day (2.37 kg d−1). The overall recovery of the heapwas 30%. Variation in leaching efficiency and some of the precautionary measures to improve performance of heap bioleaching are also discussed.
Article
Copper silica catalyst precursors have been characterized by diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy. The measurements were performed both under atmospheric conditions and under controlled gasatmospheres at elevated temperatures. Two reflection bands at 3615 and 690 cm-1 have been attributed to hydroxyl vibrations associated with the presence of copper ions highly dispersed over the silica surface. Calcination of a catalyst precursor at 800 K led to the disappearance of the copper-related surface hydroxyl groups.
Article
Biomining is an increasingly applied biotechnological procedure for processing of ores in the mining industry (biohydrometallurgy). Nowadays the production of copper from low-grade ores is the most important industrial application and a significant part of world copper production already originates from heap or dump/stockpile bioleaching. Conceptual differences exist between the industrial processes of bioleaching and biooxidation. Bioleaching is a conversion of an insoluble valuable metal into a soluble form by means of microorganisms. In biooxidation, on the other hand, gold is predominantly unlocked from refractory ores in large-scale stirred-tank biooxidation arrangements for further processing steps. In addition to copper and gold production, biomining is also used to produce cobalt, nickel, zinc, and uranium. 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.g., laterites), for leaching of processing residues or mine waste dumps (mine tailings), as well as for the extraction of metals from industrial residues and waste (recycling). This chapter estimates the world production of copper, gold, and other metals by means of biomining and chemical leaching (bio-/hydrometallurgy) compared with metal production by pyrometallurgical procedures, and describes new developments in biomining. In addition, an overview is given about metal sulfide oxidizing microorganisms, fundamentals of biomining including bioleaching mechanisms and interface processes, as well as anaerobic bioleaching and bioleaching with heterotrophic microorganisms.
Article
A simple computer model for the dissolution kinetics of crystalline matter governed by etch-pit formation predicts different development, paths, and states for geometric, total (BET), and reactive surface area during the dissolution process. The model also explores the dynamics of the dissolution rate of a given model crystal surface as a function of the development of surface area. Because the surface area term is used in the normalization of bulk dissolution rates, results of this normalization reflect the large differences explored. Based on this evaluation, we discuss the application of the diversely defined surface area terms. In the light of this discussion, the likelihood of an unambiguous definition or application of reactive surface area is problematic. The model focuses on the relationship between the variation in total surface area and the global dissolution rate, and thus is independent of specific surface reaction mechanisms. The actual model calculations presented as an example in this paper utilize experimentally determined dissolution data of three dolomite [CaMg(CO3)2] cleavage surfaces obtained by vertical scanning interferometry (VSI). Similar data from minerals such as calcite, feldspars, and barite can be used and make this model applicable to a range of different crystalline phases.
Article
Thermophiles have been shown to be the only micro-organisms to leach chalcopyrite successfully. Heap leaching may be a feasible alternative to conventional bio-reactors, providing a high temperature environment can be maintained within the heap without external heating.In the present study thermophilic heap leaching of a chalcopyrite concentrate coated onto inert support rocks (the GEOCOAT™ process) was studied in sets of small heated columns. The temperature was gradually increased to 70 °C, while successively introducing various mesophile and thermophile cultures. Individual columns were dismantled after progressively longer leach periods and the residual concentrates analysed. Copper extractions in excess of 90% were achieved within 100 days.On the basis of head and residue analyses the rate of reaction heat generated was calculated. A comprehensive heap heat conservation model was used to determine whether the experimental temperatures can be achieved and maintained in a full scale heap. Results indicate that operating hot heaps successfully is possible within a certain range of process parameters.
Abstract Bioleaching of a low grade chalcopyrite (ball mill spillage material) was tested for copper recovery in shake flasks. The original samples (as received) were thermally activated (600°C, 30 min) to notice the change in physico-chemical and mineralogical characteristics of the host rock and subsequently its effect on copper recovery. A mixed culture of acidophilic chemolithotrophic bacterial consortium predominantly entailing Acidithiobacillus fer- rooxidans strain was used for bioleaching studies and optimization of process parameters of both original and thermally activated samples. Mineralogical characteriza- tion studies indicated the presence of chalcopyrite, pyrite in the silicate matrix of the granitic rock. Field emission scanning electron microscopy coupled with Energy dispersive spectroscopy (FESEM-EDS) and X-ray Fluor- escence (XRF) analysis indicated mostly SiO2. With pH 2, pulp density 10% w/v, inoculum 10% v/v, temperature 30°C, 150 r$min–1 ,49% copper could be recovered in 30 days from the finest particle size ( – 1 + 0.75 mm) of the original spillage sample. Under similar conditions 95% copper could be recovered from the thermally activated sample with the same size fraction in 10 days. The study revealed that thermal activation leads to volume expansion in the rock with the development of cracks, micro and macro pores on its surface, thereby enabling bacterial solution to penetrate more easily into the body, facilitating enhanced copper dissolution. Keywords ball mill spillage, thermal activation, bioleach- ing, copper
Article
The recently-developed statistical method known as the "bootstrap" can be used to place confidence intervals on phylogenies. It involves resampling points from one's own data, with replacement, to create a series of bootstrap samples of the same size as the original data. Each of these is analyzed, and the variation among the resulting estimates taken to indicate the size of the error involved in making estimates from the original data, In the case of phylogenies, it is argued that the proper method of resampling is to keep all of the original species while sampling characters with replacement, under the assumption that the characters have been independently drawn by the systematist and have evolved independently. Majority-rule consensus trees can be used to construct a phylogeny showing all of the inferred monophyletic groups that occurred in a majority of the bootstrap samples. If a group shows up 95% of the time or more, the evidence for it is taken to be statistically significant. Existing computer programs can be used to analyze different bootstrap samples by using weights on the characters, the weight of a character being how many times it was drawn in bootstrap sampling. When all characters are perfectly compatible, as envisioned by Hennig, bootstrap sampling becomes unnecessary; the bootstrap method would show significant evidence for a group if it is defined by three or more characters.
Article
Meso-acidophilic bacterial leaching of ball mill spillage (containing chalcopyrite >80%) was carried out in an innovative two-step bioleaching method. The major drawback of meso-acidophilic bioleaching limiting industrial application is the passivation phenomenon over the ore surfaces in iron-sulfur rich environments. In the present study, we present a novel wash solution that efficiently removed the passivation layer. FTIR characterization of the bioleached sample indicated that the residues could be further leached to recover extra copper after wash solution application. XRD study indicated accumulation of sulfates (SO(4)(-)) of Na, K, Fe and oxy hydroxides of iron [FeO(OH)] in the form of jarosite outlining the passivation layer. SEM, FESEM-EDS studies indicated severe corrosion effects of the wash solution on the passivation layer. Two step bioleaching of the ore sample yielded 32.6% copper in 68days in the first interlude and post wash solution application yielded 10.8% additional copper.
Article
Silico-antimonate as inorganic ion exchange material has been synthesized and characterized using different available tools (X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern, X-ray fluorescence, infrared spectroscopy and differential thermal analysis). From the analysis data, the empirical formula of silico-antimonate was obtained to be H2SiSb4O13·10H2O. Sorption kinetics for Cu2+, Zn2+, Cd2+ and Ni2+ ions on silico-antimonate were studied and found to be follow the first order kinetics obeying the Freundlich isotherm over the entire range for the bulk concentration of the metal ions. Thermodynamic parameters (i.e. ΔG°, ΔS° and ΔH°) have also been calculated for the adsorption of Cu2+, Zn2+, Cd2+ and Ni2+ ions on silico-antimonate showing that the overall adsorption process is spontaneous and exothermic.
Article
Quantitative aspects of microbial crystalline iron(III) oxide reduction were examined using a dissimilatory iron(III) oxide-reducing bacterium (Shewanella alga strain BrY). The initial rate and long-term extent of reduction of a range of synthetic iron(III) oxides were linearly correlated with oxide surface area. Oxide reduction rates reached an asymptote at cell concentrations in excess of ≈1 × 109/m2 of oxide surface. Experiments with microbially reduced goethite that had been washed with pH 5 sodium acetate to remove adsorbed Fe(II) suggested that formation of a Fe(II) surface phase (adsorbed or precipitated) limited the extent of iron(III) oxide reduction. These results demonstrated explicitly that the rate and extent of microbial iron(III) oxide reduction is controlled by the surface area and site concentration of the solid phase. Strain BrY grew in media with synthetic goethite as the sole electron acceptor. The quantity of cells produced per micromole of goethite reduced (2.5 × 106) was comparable to that determined previously for growth of BrY and other dissimilatory Fe(III)-reducing bacteria coupled to amorphous iron(III) oxide reduction. BrY reduced a substantial fraction (8−18%) of the crystalline iron(III) oxide content of a variety of soil and subsurface materials, and several cultures containing these materials were transferred repeatedly with continued active Fe(III) reduction. These findings indicate that Fe(III)-reducing bacteria may be able to survive and produce significant quantities of Fe(II) in anaerobic soil and subsurface environments where crystalline iron(III) oxides (e.g., goethite) are the dominant forms of Fe(III) available for microbial reduction. Results suggest that the potential for cell growth and Fe(II) generation will be determined by the iron(III) oxide surface site concentration in the soil or sediment matrix.
Article
Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, thermal analysis -Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Thermo-Gravimetry (TG-DTG) were used to study the dehydration behavior of synthetic goethite and two naturally occurring goethite samples (Natural 1 and Natural 2) from Banded Iron Formation (BIF), at C.S. Halli, Chitradurg district, Karnataka, India. Goethites and its dehydration products were also identified by powder X-ray Diffraction (XRD) method. The dehydration temperatures were at 538, 567 and 578 K for synthetic, Natural 1 and 2 goethite, respectively. On approaching the dehydration temperature, infrared active modes of the hydroxyl groups have shown distinct variations. The peak position for the stretching mode around 3150 cm−1 was shifted upwards, while that for in-plane- deformation mode around 890 cm−1 was down shifted indicating weakening of strength of the hydrogen bonding. No intermediate phase, so called hydro-hematite, was observed in these studies. The total absorbance (area under the peak) of these modes have shown the Arrehenius type behavior in the temperature range 500–600 K, using which the activation energy for the dehydration process was estimated as 71, 103 and 85 kJ/mol for synthetic, Natural 1 and 2 goethites respectively.
Article
Zn(II) and Pb(II) from Nigerian sphalerite and galena ores were bioleached by a mixed culture of acidophilic bacteria. The influences of pH and ferric ion on the bioleaching rates of sphalerite and galena were examined. The result shows that pH 2.1 and 2.7 are favourable for the leaching of Zn(II) and Pb(II) from sphalerite and galena, respectively. It was observed that the use of agarose-simulated media caused cells to excrete exopolymers containing ferric ions which enhanced oxidation. The oxidation equilibrium for sphalerite and galena took 3 and 4 d, respectively. About 38.3% sphalerite and 34.2% galena were leached within 1 d and approximately 92.0% Zn(II) and 89.0% Pb(II) were recovered in 5 d, respectively. The unleached residual products were examined by X-ray diffraction for sphalerite, revealing the presence of elemental sulphur(S), zinc sulphate (ZnSO4) and few traces of calcium aluminate (Ca3Al2O6). The XRD pattern also indicates the presence of elemental sulphur (S), lead sulphate (PbSO4) and few traces of itoite [Pb(S,Ge)(O,OH)4] and cobalt lead silicate [Pb8Co(Si2O7)3] in the unleached galena ore.
Article
Low grade copper ore (ball mill spillage) obtained from Malanjkhand Copper Mine was processed through heap bioleaching at pilot scale. Bioleach liquor (Pregnant Leach Solution) from the heap contains (g/L of) Cu (II) 0.45, Fe (III) 0.838, Zn (II) 0.006, Ni (II) 0.0014, Mn (II) 0.011 and Pb (IV) 0.004. Solvent extraction of copper from Pregnant Leach Solution was carried out using LIX 984N-C. Effect of different operational factors such as equilibrium pH (pHe), extractant concentration, strip solution concentration, phase ratio was examined to optimize the condition for selective and quantitative extraction of copper. Based on the results of extraction as well as stripping isotherm, a 6-cycle counter current simulation study (CCS) was conducted for the conformational study. The extraction of copper was quantitative in 2-stages using 1.5% (v/v) LIX 984N-C at A: O ratio of 1:2 and pHe 1.85. The CCS condition (two stages, phase ratio A:O = 1:4) obtained from the stripping isotherm study, further attributes to the enrichment (4 folds) of copper concentration in the strip solution.
Article
A process flowsheet was developed to recover copper metal from the lean sulfide ore of copper available at Malanjkhand, Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), India. Copper pregnant leach solution (PLS) obtained from bio-heap leaching of chalcopyrite containing 0.3% copper was purified through solvent extraction (SX) and the copper recovered by electrowinning (EW). The copper-free raffinate obtained from SX stripping unit was returned back to the bioleaching circuit. The purity of the electrolytic copper produced at pilot scale was found to be 99.96%. During electrowinning, the effect of flow rate of electrolyte on current efficiency and energy consumption was also studied.
Article
Mineral dissolution experiments using batch cultures of soil and groundwater bacteria were monitored with solution chemistry and various microscopic techniques to determine the effects of these organisms on weathering reactions. Several strains of bacteria produced organic and inorganic acids and extracellular polymers in culture, increasing the release of cations from biotite (Si, Fe, Al) and plagioclase feldspar (Si, Al) by up to two orders of magnitude compared to abiotic controls. Microbial colonies on mineral grains were examined by cryo-scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM), confocal scanning laser mi-croscopy (CSLM), and epifluorescence microscopy. Bacteria colonized all mineral sur-faces, often preferentially along cleavage steps and edges of mineral grains. Low-voltage high-resolution cryo-SEM of high-pressure cryofixed and partially freeze-dried colonized minerals showed many bacteria attached by extracellular polymers of unknown composi-tion. These biofilms covered much larger areas of the mineral surfaces than bacterial cells alone. Mineral surfaces where bacteria and extracellular polymers occurred appeared more extensively etched than surrounding uncolonized surfaces. CSLM was used to observe microbial colonization of biotite and to measure pH in microenvironments surrounding living microcolonies using a ratiometric pH-sensitive fluorescent dye set. A strain of bac-teria (B0693 from the U.S. Department of Energy Subsurface Microbial Culture Collection) formed large attached microcolonies, both on the outer (001) surface and within interlayer spaces as narrow as 1 m. Solution pH decreased from near neutral at the mineral surface to 3–4 around microcolonies living within confined spaces of interior colonized cleavage planes. However, no evidence of pH microgradients surrounding exterior microcolonies was noted.
Article
The present understanding of the surface chemistry of acidic ferric sulphate dissolution of chalcopyrite is critically reviewed with regard to hindered dissolution and how the hydrometallurgical limitations, especially for microbial heap leaching operations, might be overcome. In particular the surface science investigations of what surface phases might be responsible for hindered dissolution are reviewed. Some other mechanistic issues are also considered which require further investigation. The possible phase candidates for hindered dissolution are examined, with most discussion focussed on elemental sulphur and jarosites. Phases such as polysulphides are rejected as candidates. The physical reality of metal-deficient sulphides is also questioned.A conceptual 4-stage model is proposed which explains all the general dissolution behaviour that is widely observed, i.e. of an induction period and a parabolic rate curve that may or may not be followed by linear rate behaviour. The general conclusion is that thick over-layers of sulphur cause the initial parabolic behaviour, and a thin systemic sulphur layer is responsible for the rate-limiting step, even in the linear region. Depending upon solution conditions, either unhindered near linear dissolution may occur, or jarosite precipitation that will cause a second parabolic region. Sulphur formation remains a systemic phase in the context of heap bioleaching but is not a problem of any consequence for mixed culture systems unlike jarosites. Suggestions are made as to a low-cost jarosite precipitation pond for iron removal and advantages that could result.
Article
Differences in pH between silicate–biofilm interfaces and bulk medium (ΔpH=pHinterface−pHbulk) were detectable with commercial microelectrodes in cultures grown in unbuffered medium (|ΔpH|=0.27–1.08) for an arthrobacter species, but were generally beneath detection (ΔpH<0.04) for a streptomyces species. Biofilm half-thicknesses developed by Arthrobacter ranged from 1.2 to 11.5 mm, and were highly variable even for replicates. In buffered medium, neither bacterium produced a measurable ΔpH across the biofilms grown on silicates. The silicates consisted of polished hornblende, synthetic Fe-rich glass similar to hornblende in bulk composition, and two commercially available “float glasses,” one low-Fe and one high-Fe. The two species of soil bacteria investigated are both known to accelerate release of Fe from hornblende. For the Arthrobacter, values of |ΔpH| developed on hornblende crystal or glass substrates were generally larger than those developed on either float glass. Differences in ΔpH developed on different substrates could not be related simply to relative rates of dissolution of substrates.Differences between the two bacterial species are probably related to differences in (1) rates of growth, (2) production of low-molecular-weight organic acids, (3) physical characteristics of polysaccharide slimes excreted and/or (4) production of siderophores. Although values of |ΔpH| developed at mineral–water interfaces in natural systems may not be as large as those measured here except for water-saturated systems, it is probable that significant values of ΔpH (≤pH unit) develop where fast-growing, acid-producing microbes colonize slow-dissolving phases in the presence of unbuffered solutions.
Article
Bioleaching of metal sulfides is effected by bacteria, like Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Leptospirillum ferrooxidans, Sulfolobus/Acidianus, etc., via the (re)generation of iron(III) ions and sulfuric acid.According to the new integral model for bioleaching presented here, metal sulfides are degraded by a chemical attack of iron(III) ions and/or protons on the crystal lattice. The primary iron(III) ions are supplied by the bacterial extracellular polymeric substances, where they are complexed to glucuronic acid residues. The mechanism and chemistry of the degradation is determined by the mineral structure.The disulfides pyrite (FeS2), molybdenite (MoS2), and tungstenite (WS2) are degraded via the main intermediate thiosulfate. Exclusively iron(III) ions are the oxidizing agents for the dissolution. Thiosulfate is, consequently, degraded in a cyclic process to sulfate, with elemental sulfur being a side product. This explains, why only iron(II) ion-oxidizing bacteria are able to oxidize these metal sulfides.The metal sulfides galena (PbS), sphalerite (ZnS), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), hauerite (MnS2), orpiment (As2S3), and realgar (As4S4) are degradable by iron(III) ion and proton attack. Consequently, the main intermediates are polysulfides and elemental sulfur (thiosulfate is only a by-product of further degradation steps). The dissolution proceeds via a H2S*+-radical and polysulfides to elemental sulfur. Thus, these metal sulfides are degradable by all bacteria able to oxidize sulfur compounds (like T. thiooxidans, etc.). The kinetics of these processes are dependent on the concentration of the iron(III) ions and, in the latter case, on the solubility product of the metal sulfide.
Article
This study compares the capacity of pure and mixed cultures of mesophilic bacteria for bioleaching of a low grade, pyritic chalcopyrite concentrate. In pure culture form, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans was found to have a higher bioleaching capacity than Leptospirillum ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans with the capability of the latter to bioleach copper being very limited. Mixed cultures, MixA (At. ferrooxidans, L. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans) and MixB (L. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans) were shown to perform better than the pure cultures with the highest extraction of copper (62.1% Cu) being achieved by MixA. Copper bioleaching performances of the cultures were observed to agree with their respective growth pattern. The results also indicated that the increase in the pulp density (1–5% wt/vol) adversely affected bioleaching process regardless of the pure and mixed cultures used having led to the decrease in the extent of final copper extraction i.e. 50.3% Cu recovery at 1% wt/vol for At. ferrooxidans compared with 38.6% Cu at 5% wt/vol. This study underlines the importance of mixed cultures and, iron and sulphur-oxidising activity of a bacterial culture to efficiently oxidise chalcopyrite.