Bioprocessing of mine waste: effects of process conditions
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Large volumes of waste from the mining and processing industry, particularly flotation tailings of polymetallic ores, have accumulated all over the world. Mine tailings can cause severe environmental pollution and pose significant risks to both human and environmental health. However, by the contents of their metals, mine tailings can be regarded as sources for extracting copper, zinc, gold, and other metals, specifically, by using biohydrometallurgy. Stored pyritic flotation tailings of copper-zinc ores, containing 0.26% of copper, 0.22% of zinc, and 0.67 g/t of gold were studied. A continuous process of biooxidation of this waste was studied at three temperature settings of 35, 40, and 45 °C. Processing at 35 °C for 8 days caused the pyrite oxidation level to reach 73.6%, and the gold recovery by carbon-in-pulp cyanidation of the leach residue to reach 85%. The effect of pH on biooxidation of pyritic tailings at 45 °C was also studied. The pyrite oxidation level was 18% higher when the process was carried out in the pH range of 1.2–1.5, as compared to the pH range of 1.7–2.0. The results obtained are important for the development of mine waste utilization using eco-friendly biotechnology.
KeywordsBiooxidation Bioleaching Pyritic waste Acidophilic microorganisms
This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest.
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