Reduction of Heavy-Metal Content in Overburden Material by Bacterial Action
In previous studies it has been showed that bacterially produced sulphuric acid is a good leaching agent for laterite tailings. In this work we evaluated heavy metals leaching from low grade laterite ore for cobalt and nickel extraction using sulphuric acid produced in situ by Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans under different culture conditions. In studies where that material was initially added to the cultures, considerable percentages of metals were leached (100 % Mn, 70 % Co, 7.5 % Ni, less than 5 % of Cr and Fe) after 18 days of incubation at low pulp densities (1 % and 2.5 %) of overburden. The maximum percentages were reached when cultures pH was approximately or below than 1.5. At higher pulp densities material was added to the cultures after different pre-cultivating times; also higher sulphur amounts were assayed; in such way about 100 % Mn, 60 % Co, 9 % Ni and Fe and 2.5 % Cr were leached. Although toxic metals were not completely leached, sequential extractions results indicate that these metals are not readily available. All studies finally suggest that bioleaching is a suitable technology for recovery of valuable metals as Co and remediation of mining residues by extraction of heavy metals.
Edgardo R. Donati, Marisa R. Viera, Eduardo L. Tavani, María A. Giaveno, Teresa L. Lavalle, Patricia A. Chiacchiarini
I. Hernández Díaz et al., "Reduction of Heavy-Metal Content in Overburden Material by Bacterial Action", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 71-73, pp. 653-656, 2009