Biological sulfate removal and metal recovery from mine waters

DeVegt, A. L. ; Bayer, H. G. ; Buisman, C. J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
During the last ten years, Paques Inc. has been engaged in the development and installation of treatment systems to remove sulfur compounds from water and gaseous streams using biotechnological processes. Metal and sulfate can be removed from mine waters in two biological steps. In the first step, sulfate-reducing bacteria converts sulfate to hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The HS reacts with the dissolved metals to form insoluble metal sulfide precipitates. In the second step, sulfide-oxidizing bacteria convert excess H2S to elemental sulfur. The Budelco Zinc Refinery in The Netherlands installed a groundwater treatment system to remove metals and sulfate using the biological steps described above. The system has been operating since May 1992 and has been treating 5,000 m3/d (180 thousand cu ft/day). A pilot plant began operation in November 1995 at Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Utah copper mine to develop processes for metal and sulfate removal from groundwater and for the selective copper recovery from leach water. The principle of the biotechnological methods, the full-scale experience and an overview of the test program at the mine are presented
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