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Bioleaching

With our Bioleaching analysis, different micro-organisms involved in the bioleaching of metal bearing materials are determined, giving you insight in your leaching process. On request we can give you advice on optimizing and monitoring of the bioleaching process for your specific situation.

Analysis essentials

  • To gather information on the microbial composition in your leaching process (in tanks, heaps or in-situ leaching)
  • To gain insight in the presence and quantities of the most relevant bioleaching organisms
  • To monitor, optimize and control your bioleaching process

Content of the package

The following micro-organisms are detected and quantified with our Bioleaching analysis:

  • The microbial groups Bacteria and Archaea
  • The bacterial species Acidimicrobium sp.
  • The archaea species Acidianus sp.
  • The bacterial species Acidiphilium sp.
  • The bacterial species Acidithiobacillus sp., A. caldus and A. thiooxidans
  • The archaea species Ferroplasma sp. and F. cupricumulans
  • The archaea species Sulfolobus sp.
  • The bacterial species Leptospirillum sp.
  • The bacterial species Sulfobacillus sp.
  • The archaeal species Metallosphaera sp.
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Background information

Bioleaching is a technology that utilises the capacity of micro-organisms to leach metals from ores. It is an alternative for melting or roasting and makes extracting metals from low-grade ores economically feasible and is more environmentally friendly. Fe3+ ions are used to oxidize the ore. This step is entirely independent of microbes. The role of the bacteria is the further oxidation of the ore, but also the regeneration of the chemical oxidant Fe3+ from Fe2+. Twenty percent of all copper is extracted using bioleaching. Other metals that are extracted via bioleaching include cobalt, zinc, nickel, lead and uranium.

Many bioleaching operations are located in developing countries, because several of these countries have a high amount of mineral reserves. The characteristics of bioleaching makes this technique especially suitable for these countries because of its simplicity and low capital investment. In addition of using bioleaching micro-organisms for developed countries, many scientists actually believe that bioleaching in the future might be used to mine metals such as zinc and nickel on the moon.