Developments in Mine Waste Biotreatment Processes

Thompson, L. C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1992
The development of economical and effective treatment processes for solid and aqueous waste is a critical issue facing the mining industry today. Cyanide, nitrates and acid rock drainage are environmentally sensitive effluents that require treatment or containment for acceptable disposal. In situ biotreatment processes are an emerging technology (Thayer) for cyanide oxidation, denitrification, sulfide mineral alteration and metal re- mineralization. Biological cyanide oxidation is competitive with chemical treatment processes (peroxide, alkaline chlorination) for process solutions, spent ore and tailings detoxification. Microbial denitrification treats mine waste contaminated with nitrates from blasting, processing or nitrification of the host rock. Bio-alteration of sulfide minerals and metal re-mineralization may present the most cost-effective and environmentally acceptable method of dealing with sulfide tailings and leachate solutions. Field test programs for cyanide bio-degradation and denitrification of spent ore and process solutions were designed and run at two mines. Although the treatment bacteria and the application processes are similar, each waste presented site-specific problems for adapting the biotreatment processes. Some of the site problems include climate, ore geochemistxy, field bacteria production, waste microbiology and application engineering. This paper compares treatment design and results for cyanide oxidation and denitrification in heap detox treatments.
Full Article Download:
(366 kb)