The Bioshale Project: Search for a Sustainable Way of Exploiting Black Shale Ores Using Biotechnology
The Bioshale project, involving 13 partners throughout Europe, is co-funded by the European Commission under the FP6 program. The main objective of this project (which started in October 2004) is to identify and develop innovative biotechnological processes for ‘’eco-efficient’’ exploitation of metal-rich, black shale ores. Three extensive deposits have been selected for R&D actions. These are: (i) a site (in Talvivaara, Finland) that, at the outset of the project, had not been exploited; (ii) a deposit (in Lubin, Poland) that is currently being actively mined, and (iii) a third site (in Mansfeld, Germany) where the ore had been actively mined in the past, but which is no longer exploited. The black shale ores contain base (e.g. copper and nickel), precious (principally silver) and PGM metals, but also high contents of organic matter that potentially handicap metal recovery by conventional techniques. The main technical aspects of the work plan can be summarized as: (i) evaluation of the geological resources and selection of metal-bearing components; (ii) selection of biological consortia to be tested; (iii) assessment of bioprocessing routes, including hydrometallurgical processing; (iv) techno-economic evaluation of new processes from mining to metal recovery including social, and (v) assessing the environmental impacts of biotechnological compared to conventional processing of the ores. An overview of the main results obtained to date are presented, with special emphasis on the development of bioleaching technologies for metal recovery that can be applied to multielement concentrates and black shale ores.
Axel Schippers, Wolfgang Sand, Franz Glombitza and Sabine Willscher
P. D'Hugues et al., "The Bioshale Project: Search for a Sustainable Way of Exploiting Black Shale Ores Using Biotechnology", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 20-21, pp. 42-45, 2007