Bioleaching of copper
Research aims to advance the understanding of processes that control the extraction of metals, such as copper, with the aid of microorganisms. Microorganisms can accelerate the dissolution of metal sulphides under favourable conditions, and the subsequent optimisation of these processes will promote maximum copper recovery. This project focuses on processes involved in the bioleaching of copper iron sulphides, such as chalcopyrite. The optimisation of bioleaching through the acceleration of biological processes could positively impact the mining of currently low-grade and sub-economic ore waste products, such as waste dumps and tailings. Furthermore, promoting metal extraction from these products can advance environmentally sustainable mining practices and assist in reducing unwanted side effects associated with mining, such as the generation of acid-rock drainage, which may release acid and toxic base metals into aquatic ecosystems.