Minerals2015, 5(3), 488-506; doi:10.3390/min5030488 - published 22 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Evidencing ancient interspecific associations in the fossil record may be challenging, particularly when bacterial organisms have most likely been degraded during diagenesis. Yet, documenting ancient interspecific associations may provide valuable insights into paleoenvironmental conditions and paleocommunities. Here, we report the multiscale characterization of contemporary and fossilized calcifying bacterial colonies found on contemporary shrimps from Mexico (La Paz Bay) and on 160-Ma old fossilized decapods (shrimps) from the Lagerstätte of La Voulte-sur-Rhône (France), respectively. We document the fine scale morphology, the inorganic composition and the organic signatures of both the contemporary and fossilized structures formed by these bacterial colonies using a combination of electron microscopies and synchrotron-based scanning transmission X-ray microscopy. In addition to discussing the mechanisms of carbonate precipitation by such bacterial colonies, the present study illustrates the degradation of bacterial remains occurring during diagenesis.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 473-487; doi:10.3390/min5030473 - published 22 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Steelmaking relies on iron ore and metallurgical coal as main ingredients, the trade of which is hypothesized to theoretically change in tandem. However, strong correlation is not evident in historical trade prices of steelmaking inputs. To determine causes to this occurrence, the market factors that influence the Australian iron ore and metallurgical coal industries were studied. Data was collected over the past decade for worldwide resource production and trade quantities of crude steel, iron ore, and metallurgical coal. The data was analysed to reveal trends, allowing examination of the macroeconomic trade of metallurgical coal and iron ore with relation to worldwide and country specific steel production. It was determined that the influential growth of China’s steel production has spurred the growth of worldwide iron ore demand, which was met with increased production and supply, from Australia. The increased metallurgical coal demand has been met with increased production within China locally. Measures of supply elasticity were created for worldwide iron ore and metallurgical coal trade, where comparisons between Australia’s industries to the relevant greatest competitor were examined. The results, along with respective resource production data, highlighted the elevated competitive position that Australian iron ore producers enjoy compared to metallurgical coal producers. Trade characteristics revealed the different market structures that iron ore and metallurgical coal industries operate in, prompting a discussion of the effects these markets have on the two Australian industries.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 452-472; doi:10.3390/min5030452 - published 9 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Drainage from metal-sulphide rich rocks may cause considerable environmental stress in the form of elevated sulphate and heavy metal contamination of the environment. Mine draining effects from closed mines may be abated using indigenous and introduced microbial communities for sulphate reduction and metal precipitation at the mining site. Here we characterized the general and sulphate reducing bacterial (SRB) community of Kotalahti Mine (Finland). The mine was flooded after closure and sulphate reduction and metal precipitation was induced by addition of pig manure sludge into the Vehkankuilu shaft. Water was sampled from Vehkankuilu and Ollinkuilu shafts from depths −10, −30, −70 and −100 m 15 years after the treatment. The water in the shafts differed from each other biologically and geochemically. The shafts are not directly connected except by some fracture zones, and the Ollinkuilu shaft is used as a reference for environmental monitoring. The detected bacterial communities from both shafts contained methylotrophic γ-Proteobacteria, hydrogenotrophic and methylotrophic β-Proteobacteria and fermenting bacterial clades. The concentration of SRB was low, at most 4.0 × 103dsrB genes·mL−1, and the SRB affiliated with Desulfobulbus and Thermoanaerobacteriales clades. Despite the obvious success of the mine as an in situ bioreactor for increasing water pH and removing sulphate and heavy metals by induced sulphate reduction under suboptimal temperature, only a small portion, less than 0.5%, of the bacterial population in the mine water was SRB.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 397-451; doi:10.3390/min5030397 - published 7 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Extreme thermoacidophiles (Topt > 65 °C, pHopt < 3.5) inhabit unique environments fraught with challenges, including extremely high temperatures, low pH, as well as high levels of soluble metal species. In fact, certain members of this group thrive by metabolizing heavy metals, creating a dynamic equilibrium between biooxidation to meet bioenergetic needs and mechanisms for tolerating and resisting the toxic effects of solubilized metals. Extremely thermoacidophilic archaea dominate bioleaching operations at elevated temperatures and have been considered for processing certain mineral types (e.g., chalcopyrite), some of which are recalcitrant to their mesophilic counterparts. A key issue to consider, in addition to temperature and pH, is the extent to which solid phase heavy metals are solubilized and the concomitant impact of these mobilized metals on the microorganism’s growth physiology. Here, extreme thermoacidophiles are examined from the perspectives of biodiversity, heavy metal biooxidation, metal resistance mechanisms, microbe-solid interactions, and application of these archaea in biomining operations.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 380-396; doi:10.3390/min5030380 - published 2 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper reports the mineralogical and geochemical compositions of the Late Permian C2, C5a, C5b, C6a, and C6b semianthracite coals from the Mahe mine, northeastern Yunnan, China. Minerals in the coals are mainly made up of quartz, chamosite, kaolinite, mixed-layer illite/smectite (I/S), pyrite, and calcite; followed by anatase, dolomite, siderite, illite and marcasite. Similar to the Late Permian coals from eastern Yunnan, the authigenic quartz and chamosite were precipitated from the weathering solution of Emeishan basalt, while kaolinite and mixed-layer I/S occurring as lenses or thin beds were related to the weathering residual detrital of Emeishan basalt. However, the euhedral quartz and apatite particles in the Mahe coals were attributed to silicic-rock detrital input. It further indicates that there has been silicic igneous eruption in the northeastern Yunnan. Due to the silicic rock detrital input, the Eu/Eu* value of the Mahe coals is lower than that of the Late Permian coals from eastern Yunnan, where the detrital particles were mainly derived from the basalt. The high contents of Sc, V, Cr, Co, Ni, Cu, Ga, and Sn in the Mahe coals were mainly derived from the Kangdian Upland.
Minerals2015, 5(3), 367-379; doi:10.3390/min5030367 - published 25 June 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Three quarters of the world’s phosphate deposits are of sedimentary origin and 75%–80% of those include carbonate gangue. In this study, carbonate sedimentary phosphate deposits of the Lar Mountains of southwest Iran are studied. These deposits consist mainly of calcite, fluorapatite, quartz, kaolinite and illite, with an average P2O5 grade of 9%–10% (low-grade). Various pre-processing and processing methods have been developed for concentrating low-grade phosphate up to marketable grade and this study aims to select the optimal method to produce an economically viable grade of phosphate concentrate from low-grade ore. Different concentration methods, including calcination and gravity separation, were applied on samples at both a laboratory and semi-industrial scale (pilot scale). Using an integrated method of calcination (performed in a rotary kiln) and shaking table for concentrating the low-grade phosphate ore, the results show promise at producing grades of 30.77% P2O5 with 60.7%–63.2% recovery.