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(Bio)leaching Behavior of Chromite Tailings

Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Sorbonne Paris Cité, University Paris Diderot, UMR 7154, CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France
Laboratoire Géomatériaux et Environnement (LGE), Université Paris-Est, EA 4508, UPEM, 77454 Marne-la-Vallée, France
Department of Environmental Engineering and Water Technology, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, P.O. Box 3015, 2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands
UMR 8148 GEOPS, University Paris Sud-CNRS-Université Paris Saclay, 91405 Orsay CEDEX, France
Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2018, 8(6), 261;
Received: 20 April 2018 / Revised: 2 June 2018 / Accepted: 14 June 2018 / Published: 20 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Bioleaching)
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Chromite beneficiation operations in Sukinda valley (India) produce large amounts of tailings, which are stored in open air. In this study, bioleaching experiments were carried out in batch reactors with Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans or Pseudomonas putida in order to determine the potential leachability of metals contained in these tailings due to biological activity. Acidic and alkaline pH resulted from the incubation of tailings with A. thiooxidans and P. putida, respectively. Tailings were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and chemical extraction of Cr(VI) with KH2PO4 was performed. Mineralogical investigations showed that tailings are mainly composed of chromite, hematite, lizardite, chlorite, and goethite, which are all known as Cr-bearing phases. During the leaching with A. thiooxidans and P. putida, total Cr was initially extracted as Cr(VI) due to the presence of phosphates in the medium, and subsequently decreased because of Cr(VI) adsorption and reduction to Cr(III). Reduction was associated with bacterial activity, but also with the presence of ferrous iron. Despite the occurrence of siderophores in the tailings after incubation with P. putida, under acidic conditions, Fe extracted remained higher. Extracted Ni, Mn, and Al concentrations also increased over time. Given the significant amount of chromite tailings produced every year, this study shows that tailings storage and leachability represent a potential source of chromium. However, our findings suggest that the presence of bacterial communities, as well as physicochemical processes, favor Cr(VI) reduction. View Full-Text
Keywords: tailings; bioleaching; chromite mine; Cr(VI) reduction tailings; bioleaching; chromite mine; Cr(VI) reduction

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Bolaños-Benítez, V.; Van Hullebusch, E.D.; Lens, P.N.; Quantin, C.; Van de Vossenberg, J.; Subramanian, S.; Sivry, Y. (Bio)leaching Behavior of Chromite Tailings. Minerals 2018, 8, 261.

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