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Minerals 2018, 8(8), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8080343

The Evolution, Current Status, and Future Prospects of Using Biotechnologies in the Mineral Extraction and Metal Recovery Sectors

School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
Received: 16 July 2018 / Revised: 1 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 8 August 2018
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Abstract

The current global demand in terms of both the amounts and range of metals for industrial and domestic use greatly exceeds that at any previous time in human history. Recycling is inadequate to meet these needs and therefore mining primary metal ores will continue to be a major industry in the foreseeable future. The question of how metal mining can develop in a manner which is less demanding of energy and less damaging of the environment in a world whose population is increasingly aware of, and concerned about, the environment, requires urgent redress. Increased application of biotechnologies in the mining sector could go some way in solving this conundrum, yet, biomining (harnessing microorganisms to enhance the recovery of base and precious metals) has remained a niche application since it was first knowingly used in the 1960s. This manuscript reviews the development and current status of biomining applications and highlights their limitations as well as their strengths. New areas of biotechnology that could be applied in the mining sector, and their potential impact in terms of both their potential environmental and economic benefits, are also discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: base metals; bioleaching; bio-oxidation; biosulfidogenesis; deep in situ biomining; natural biomines; reductive mineral dissolution; sulfur-enhanced bioleaching base metals; bioleaching; bio-oxidation; biosulfidogenesis; deep in situ biomining; natural biomines; reductive mineral dissolution; sulfur-enhanced bioleaching
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Johnson, D.B. The Evolution, Current Status, and Future Prospects of Using Biotechnologies in the Mineral Extraction and Metal Recovery Sectors. Minerals 2018, 8, 343.

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