As the world’s population continues to increase exponentially, mining reserves and current deposits are steadily decreasing. Relatively easy-to-leach oxide ores are becoming less common place while complex low-grade sulfide ore bodies are becoming the norm. As the world demand for metals increases with the growth of technology, it is critical to find more efficient and economical ways to extract these metals from these complex sulfide ores.
Bioleaching involves the use of naturally occurring microorganisms to catalyze the oxidation of sulfide minerals to extract both base and precious metals. These microorganisms (which include bacteria and archaea) act as catalysts by oxidizing ferrous iron into ferric iron which is what liberates the metals. Additionally, these microbes will also oxide sulfur into sulfates, generating sulfuric acid; another constituent of heap leaching. These reactions do occur naturally through interactions with oxygen in air, but these microbes assist by increasing the reaction rates, allowing to the reactions to continue over an extended period of time, and by attaching to the ores to be able to essentially break down the minerals.
Sulfur and Iron Oxidizing Microbial Activity
Heterotrophic Microbial Activity
Sulfate-Reducing Microbial Activity
Green Algae Activity
Total Cell Count
Mixed and Pure Culturing
Cells/mL by phase contrast microscopy
Bench scale, pilot scale
DNA extraction, quantification, and 16S Sequencing