BioMinE Project Structure
WP2 - Bioleaching

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 therein.

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. Thus, the 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 scale-up.

Other RTD activities will evaluate novel configurations for the bioleaching process circuit and for evaluation of improvements to the bioleaching reactors, both of which could result in lower costs.

Bioleaching plant
Source: BioMinE Consortium
(click to enlarge image).

Hosted by: BRGM - 3, avenue Claude Guillemin - BP 36009 - 45060 Orléans cedex 2 - France