Coordinator: Tony PINCHES - MINTEK
Bioleaching processes employ the catalytic activities of specific types of micro-organisms to accelerate the solubilisation
(leaching) of primary ores and secondary metallurgical wastes to facilitate the recovery of the valuable metals contained
The primary objectives and focus of the RTD activities in this Work Package will be to provide solutions to the
technical constraints that are currently limiting the broader commercial applications of bioleaching technologies.
RTD activities will address improvements in the performance and cost-effectiveness of bioleaching
processes, the wider
application of the technologies to low-grade, complex and waste metal resources and process innovations that will minimise
environmental impact and enhance sustainability. This will be achieved through the combined and integrated application of
advanced biotechnological and engineering sciences.
Bioleaching micro-organisms that may exhibit improved bioleaching
capabilities will be prospected in extreme environments characterised by high metal ion concentrations, salinity and
temperature, and improved molecular biology techniques will be developed to identify and monitor the micro-organisms of
interest. Other aspects of molecular biology will be used to improve understanding of how bioleaching micro-organisms
survive and interact under the extreme conditions encountered in bioleaching
processes, and to assess how this knowledge
can be applied to achieve better process control and operation. Important metal-containing resources will be subjected to
bench-scale bioleaching testing using conditions that simulate near industrial-scale process conditions for further
optimisation and to obtain the engineering data required for process
Other RTD activities will evaluate novel
configurations for the bioleaching process circuit and for evaluation of improvements to the bioleaching
of which could result in lower costs.