Bioleaching test work was performed in continuously operated multi-stage reactor systems at 70°C using a thermophilic culture treating an Aguablanca Ni-Cu concentrate from Spain and a blend of Cu concentrates from Bor, Serbia. The copper in both these concentrates occurs as chalcopyrite and therefore the use of thermophiles was applied, which resulted in copper recoveries of over 95%. Qualitative assessment of the microbial community in the bioreactors was performed by terminal restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and clone library analysis of the 16S rRNA genes amplified by PCR. T-RFLP analysis revealed that only archaea were present, and that the communities in both the Aguablanca and Bor systems consisted of two different microorganisms. A 16S rRNA gene clone library using DNA from the Aguablanca system was constructed and screened. Again, two archaea were detected in similar relative abundance in the population as found by T-RFLP analyses. The sequences of these two cloned genes revealed that the dominant archaeon (up to 98% of the total archaea detected) was Acidianus brierleyi, and the other was Metallosphaera sedula. Quantitative assessment of the microbial community was performed by Q-PCR and confirmed the dominance of archaea in the system with Acidianus being the dominant strain (98-99% of the total population) and a minor part of the population (1-2%) consisted of Metallosphaera. Additionally, very small amounts of Sulfolobus spp. were detected. This study, along with other recent studies on the diversity of thermoacidophiles involved in the solubilization of copper from chalcopyrite concentrates, revealed that a wider variety of thermoacidophiles are involved in bioprocessing of metal sulfides, and showed that A. brierleyi should be considered an important biomining acidophile.