“Bioshrouding”—a novel approach for securing reactive mineral tailings
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A novel technique (“bioshrouding”) for safeguarding highly reactive sulfidic mineral tailings deposits is proposed. In this, freshly milled wastes are colonised with ferric iron-reducing heterotrophic acidophilic bacteria that form biofilms on reactive mineral surfaces, thereby preventing or minimising colonisation by iron sulfide-oxidising chemolithotrophs such as Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Leptospirillum spp. Data from initial experiments showed that dissolution of pyrite could be reduced by between 57 and 75% by “bioshrouding” the mineral with three different species of heterotrophic acidophiles (Acidiphilium, Acidocella and Acidobacterium spp.), under conditions that were conducive to microbial oxidative dissolution of the iron sulfide.
KeywordsAcid pollution Acidophilic bacteria Heterotrophic bacteria Iron Mineral tailings Pyrite
This work was carried out in the frame of BioMinE (European project contract NMP1-CT-500329-1). The authors acknowledge the financial support given to this project by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Development. We also wish to thank our various partners on the project for their contributions to the work reported in this paper. DBJ is grateful to the Royal Society (UK) for the award of an Industrial Fellowship.
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