Part of the Applied Environmental Science and Engineering for a Sustainable Future book series AESE Abstract Universal reserves of high-grade ores are diminishing at an alarming rate due to the rapid increase in the demand for metals. Biomining is the extraction of specific metals from their ores through biological means, usually microorganism. Biomining is done in two steps often called bioleaching and biooxidation. Bioleaching commonly refers to biomining technology applied to base metals; whereas, biooxidation is normally applied to sulfidic-refractory gold ores and concentrates. The biomining methods are affordable, nontoxic, effective, and likewise environment pleasant.
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Summary What is Biomining? Biomining is a technique we can use to extract metals from their ore using prokaryotes and fungi. Therefore, this is a biological treatment method that uses living organisms. In this process, microorganisms secrete organic compounds that can chelate the metals in the metal ore. Thereafter, they tend to uptake the coordinate complex along with the chelated metal into the cell of the microorganism.
Some microorganisms can utilize metal ions such as iron, copper, zinc, gold, etc. Sometimes, we can observe some microorganisms uptake, even unstable metals, such as uranium and thorium. Figure Copper Mining Compared to typical mining, which releases harmful or toxic byproducts to the environment, biomining is a very environmentally friendly technique.
The byproducts that are released from biomining are metabolites and gases that the microorganisms produce. These microorganisms can be used again and again. Figure Gold Heap Leaching The most common application of biomining is gold mining. We can find gold in nature associated with other minerals which contain arsenic and pyrite.
Here, microorganisms can dissolve pyrite minerals using their secretions and, in this process, gold is released. As a very important factor about biomining is that it is important to remove toxic heavy metals from nature.
What is Bioleaching? Bioleaching is the method of extraction of metals from their ore using living organisms such as bacteria. So, this technique is much cleaner and environmentally friendly than the typical heap leaching method which uses cyanide.
This method is very important in extracting metals such as copper, zinc, lead, arsenic, antimony, nickel, etc. A common example is pyrite mineral leaching. This process involves various iron-sulfur oxidizing bacteria species. Generally, the process of bioleaching includes an initiating step in which ferric ions are used to oxidize the metal ore. Here, ferric ions are reduced to ferrous ions. This step does not involve microbes. Therefore, bacteria are used for further oxidation of the metal ore.
There, bacteria are used to oxidize sulfur and iron in the metal ore. What is the Difference Between Biomining and Bioleaching? Biomining and bioleaching are techniques used to extract metals from their ore by means of living organisms. The key difference between biomining and bioleaching is that biomining is the technique of using prokaryotes or fungi to extract metals from minerals whereas bioleaching is the technique of using bacteria to extract metals from minerals. Below infographic summarizes the difference between biomining and bioleaching.
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Biomining and Bioleaching
JoJogul Other uses of biomining New biomining techniques that do not involve oxidation are being tested, which would enable large-scale biomining for different types of minerals and metals. Biomining is an environmentally friendly technique compared to typical mining. Most current biomining operations use naturally occurring microbial communities. This risk can be managed by ensuring that biomining is conducted under controlled conditions with proper sealing and waste management protocols.
Bioleaching and Biomining
Summary What is Biomining? Biomining is a technique we can use to extract metals from their ore using prokaryotes and fungi. Therefore, this is a biological treatment method that uses living organisms. In this process, microorganisms secrete organic compounds that can chelate the metals in the metal ore.
Difference Between Biomining and Bioleaching