World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 487–495 | Cite as

Recent advances in microbial mining

  • A. D. Agate


Microbial mining of copper sulphide ores, has been practiced on an industrial scale since the late 1950s. Since then, advances in microbial mining and the role of microorganisms involved in solubilization of metals have assumed commerical importance. The fact that bioleaching processes save energy, have a minimum pollution potential and are able to yield value-added by-products make these processes invaluable. The metal extraction processes using microorganisms, which are currently in active use, concern copper and uranium bioleaching. Biobeneficiation is also applied at an industrial scale for recovery of gold from arsenopyrites. The developments in these processes during the last 15 years, with particular reference to developing nations, are reviewed. Information gathered on molecular genetics of these microorganisms should lead to a better understanding and control of microbial leaching processes. Areas still needing research to sustain economic expansion of microbial mining techniques are indicated.

Key words

Biobeneficiation bioleaching genetics of thiobacilli microbial mining 


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© Rapid Science Publishers 1996

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  • A. D. Agate

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