Biooxidation of Gold-, Silver, and Antimony-Bearing Highly Refractory Polymetallic Sulfide Concentrates, and its Comparison with Abiotic Pretreatment Techniques

Masahito Tanaka, Yuta Yamaji, Yuken Fukano, Kazuhiko Shimada, Jun Ichiro Ishibashi, Tsuyoshi Hirajima, Keiko Sasaki, Mitsuru Sawada, Naoko Okibe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Effectiveness of different pure and mixed cultures of three moderately thermophilic, extremely acidophilic bacterial strains (Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans ICP, Sulfobacillus sibiricus N1, Acidithiobacillus caldus KU) were investigated for biooxidation of highly refractory polymetallic gold ore concentrates. Despite of its complex mineralogy and the presence of a mixture of potentially inhibitory metals and metalloids, the concentrate was readily dissolved in defined mixed cultures including both iron and sulfur oxidizers, releasing as much as 80% of soluble Fe and 61% of soluble As. Factors to affect microbial mineral dissolution efficiencies (i.e. microbial As(III) oxidation ability, formation of secondary mineral precipitation (e.g. jarosite, elemental sulfur, scorodite, anglesite), and microbial population dynamics during biooxidation) were studied, based on which roles of individual microbes and their synergistic interactions during biooxidation were discussed. Applying the biooxidation pretreatment using the most efficient mixed cultures containing all three strains significantly improved the recovery of both Au (from 1.1% to 86%) and Ag (from 3.2% to 87%). Finally, this study provides one of the very few available comparisons of the effectiveness of different pretreatment techniques for refractory gold ore concentrates: Compared with other abiotic pretreatment approaches (roasting, pressure oxidation, and alkali dissolution), biooxidation was shown to be one of the most effective options in terms of the recovery of Au and Ag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-548
Number of pages11
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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