Mesophilic bioleaching performance of copper, cobalt and nickel with emphasis on complex orebodies of the Democratic Republic of Congo: a review of dynamic interactions between solids loading, microbiota activity and growth

  • David Lukumu BampoleEmail author
  • Antoine-F Mulaba-Bafubiandi
Review Paper


The copper, cobalt and nickel ores are still currently mined in the world. Its complex mineralogy creates extraction challenges by means of conventional metallurgical methods. Meanwhile, dealing with mesophilic strains in leaching process requires a compromise between solid loading and microbiota activity and growth. That is why, the influence of solid loading with fine or coarse particulates, the cell disturbance during the metal–microbes interactions depending upon the influence of gangue nature as well as metallic ions concentration on bacterial tolerance and the chemical and biological pathways involved in bioleaching mechanism of complex ores are summarised in detail in this paper. The current trends in mechanism research and diverse discovered set of microbiota and bacterial population coupled with bacterial adaptation methods contribute to optimise and improve the metals leaching performance and knowledge. In addition, the different existing complex mineralogical structures elaborate a main indirect mechanism with two different transitory mechanisms, before metal is converted into metal sulphate as wealthily explained in this comprehensive review. More data for cost analysis concomitant with extraction efficiency of metals using mesophilic bioleaching process are needed. However, it does not mean that other options are excluded in order to set a bio-hydrometallurgical chain. In fact, to consider also the concentration and purification of the pregnant leaching solution via phase separation and solvent extraction will be helpful. This obeys to the idea of option trees, where possible options are then systematically gaged with respect to critical criteria.


Mesophilic bioleaching Microbiota Copper Cobalt Nickel Sustainability Environment 



The authors would like to acknowledge and extend their gratitude to the University of Johannesburg for providing the means and facilities for research—not excluding the Mineral Processing and Technology Research Centre and the Metallurgy Department.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The first author discloses that this work does not have any conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

40974_2019_142_MOESM1_ESM.docx (692 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 691 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Joint Center on Global Change and Earth System Science of the University of Maryland and Beijing Normal University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lukumu Bampole
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Antoine-F Mulaba-Bafubiandi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Metallurgy, Mineral Processing and Technology Research Centre, Faculty of Engineering and the Built EnvironmentUniversity of JohannesburgDoornfonteinSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Industrial Chemistry, Faculty of PolytechnicUniversité de LikasiLikasiDemocratic Republic of Congo

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