How Do Bacteria Interact With Minerals?
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2000
Sulphide minerals, such as pyrite and sphalerite, are leached by ferric sulphate. This reaction produces ferrous sulphate and other dissolved products. The ferrous sulphate is re-oxidized to ferric sulphate by bacteria. These reactions can be written as: [ ] However, in 1964 Silverman and Ehrlich proposed that this is not the only role that is played by bacteria. These researchers proposed that T. ferrooxidans enhances the rate of oxidation of pyrite above that achieved by chemical reaction with ferric sulphate at the same solution conditions. This enhancement in the rate of dissolution was proposed to occur by direct microbiological action, possibly by the extra cellular secretion of an enzymatic oxidant. Since the Silverman and Ehrlich proposal, different authors have made opposing claims concerning the action of T. ferrooxidanson pyrite. This ?direct mechanism? of bacterial dissolution of pyrite can be given by the following reaction: [ ]