Bioleaching of a Rich-In-Carbonates Copper Ore at Alkaline pH
A rich-in- carbonates copper ore was subjected to bioleaching under alkaline pH conditions by means of different microorganisms or their metabolites. The ore contained 1.40% copper, 1.94% sulphur, 3.25% iron and 20.3% carbonates, and had a pH of 8.6 and a highly positive net neutralization potential (325 kg CaCO3/t). Copper was present mainly as different sulphide minerals (bornite, covellite, chalcopyrite). The leaching was carried out by means of the shake-flask technique at 32 oC using finely ground (minus 100 μm) ore. The following microorganisms were used to leach the sample: ammonifying bacteria (related to the genera Bacillus, Acinetocater and Vibrio); heterotrophic bacteria (Acetobacter and Pseudomonas) and fungi (Asperillus niger and Penicillium chrysogenum) producing citric acid; heterotrophic bacteria (Micrococcus, Alcaligenes and Bacillus) producing amino acids (mainly alanine); basophilic chemolithotrophic bacteria (Thiobacillus thioparus, Hallothiobacillus neapolitanus, Starkeya novella; ”silicate bacteria” (Bacillus circulans) producing organic acids and exopolysaccharides; bacteria possessing urease enzymatic activity (Corynebacterium). The best results were achieved by means of a mixed culture of urease-possessing bacteria, which under certain conditions was able to solubilize 64.4% of the copper within 30 days of leaching.
Axel Schippers, Wolfgang Sand, Franz Glombitza and Sabine Willscher
V.I. Groudeva et al., "Bioleaching of a Rich-In-Carbonates Copper Ore at Alkaline pH", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 20-21, pp. 103-106, 2007