Mineral processing in bioreactors has become established in several countries during the past decade with industrial application of iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria to release occluded gold from mineral sulfides. Cobalt extraction in bioreactors has also been commercialized, and development of high-temperature biooxidation of copper sulfides has reached pilot-plant scale. A variety of potentially useful mineral sulfide-oxidizing thermophiles have been recognized, but the most active strains have not been fully characterized.
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