Abstract: Bioleaching/minerals biooxidation and bioremediation have been widely used commercially for heap/dump bioleaching of secondary copper sulfide ores, sulfidic-refractory gold concentrates and treatment of acid rock drainage. Technical and commercial challenges, identified in this paper, remain for bioleaching of primary sulfides and complex ores. New frontiers for the technology exist in processing massive sulfides, silicate-locked minerals and in the more distant future in-situ leaching. Decommissioning of cyanide heap leach operations and stabilizing mine wastes using biotechnology are opportunities requiring intensive and focused research, development and engineering efforts.
Abstract: Rio Tinto (Iberian Pyritic Belt, SW Spain) is a natural extreme acidic environment with a rather constant acidic pH (mean pH value 2.3) and a high concentration of heavy metals. The Tinto ecosystem is under the control of iron. The geomicrobiological characterization of Río Tinto has unravelled some basic questions of biohydrometallurgical interest. The methodologies developed for this study were applied successfully to monitor different bioleaching processes of the BioMinE project.
Abstract: The paper “Bacterial succession in bioheap leaching”  initiated the search for methods to analyze the microbial dynamics in bioleaching industrial processes as a key to advancing commercial bioheap applications. “Chemical and physical conditions within bioheaps change radically from the time the bioheap is stacked and inoculated until bioleaching is completed.” The results from a comprehensive monitoring program by culturing and molecular techniques in an industrial bioleaching process for Run-of-mine (ROM) low grade copper sulfide ore in Chile will be summarized. The analysis of the compiled information permits an understanding of changes in microbial substrates availability, chemical and physical conditions. The impact of other aspects on microbiology, such as the mining programme and the industrial design are also considered. The bacterial succession in bioheap leaching solutions allowed the leaching cycle stages to be describe as: i) Acid conditioning and soluble copper releasing, ii) Chalcocite Bacterial leaching (ferrous oxidation); iii) Chalcocite Bacterial leaching (ferrous and reduced sulfur compounds –RSC- oxidation); iv) Bacterial leaching of sulphide minerals with higher rest potentials (pyrite and covellite ), v) Bacterial oxidation of remnant sulfide minerals and RSC.