Sulfides and carbonaceous matter in double refractory gold ore (DRGO) were bio-treated sequentially using an iron-oxidizing archaeon Acidianus brierleyi followed by lignin peroxidase-dominating crude enzymes released from the white-rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium to significantly improve gold recovery from 24% to 92%. Transformation of the carbonaceous matter in the sequential bio-treatment was interpreted with Quantitative Evaluation of Materials by Scanning Electron Microscopy (QEMSCAN), Raman spectroscopy and three-dimensional fluorescence spectrometry. Firstly, microbiological sulfide oxidation did not affect carbonaceous matter but decreased the arsenic content in the solid residue, facilitating the following enzymatic reaction. Next, the crude enzymes predominantly decomposed the defect-bearing graphitic carbon into humic-like substances. The humic-like substances were not completely soluble under pH 4 but were instead retained in the solid residue as a part of a newly formed carbonaceous aluminosilicate (C–Si–Al) phase. Due to a wide pKa range of humic-like substances, it is proposed that at pH 4, electrostatic interaction between humic substances and illite, with and without heavy metals, might have enabled the agglomeration of fine aluminosilicate particles. Some gold grains trapped in C–Si–Al agglomerates were released by the dissolution of humic-like substances in 1 M NaOH, resulting in a further increase in gold recovery of approximately 15%.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Waste Management and Disposal