Reagents of Biological Origin in Metallurgy
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1994
Reagents of biological origin are becoming more and more important in the field of metallurgy, especially in the areas of mineral processing and hydrometallurgy. The advantage of lower operating cost over physical and chemical processes and the capacity to operate with low grade ores make the microbial processes further attractive. In this paper, the role of microbes directly as a reagent and microbially produced reagents or secreted metabolites in mineral processing and hydrometallurgy will be discussed. Adhesion of microbes to surfaces is known to alter the hydrophobicity of minerals. Applications include surface modification to impart hydrophobicity or hydrophilicity on sulfide or non-sulfide minerals and dissolution of precious metals. Microbes can also perform the role of flocculating agents. Biosorption of toxic and heavy metal ions by microbes are finding application in treating tailing ponds. Mechanisms associated with the use for microbially produced reagents are discussed along with some recent results.