The Effect of the Facultative Chemolithotrophic Bacterium Thiobacillus acidophilus on the Leaching of Low-Grade Cu-Ni Sulfide Ore by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans
The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of Thiobacillus acidophilus on the leaching of a low-grade Cu-Ni sulfide ore by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. A sample of low-grade Cu-Ni sulfide ore containing 0.36% Cu, 0.48% Ni, and 7.87% Fe was pulverized and initially leached for a 21-day period using two different pure cultures of T. ferrooxidans, an environmental strain (F2) and a strain from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC 23270). Samples of the ore slurries were drawn and the pH was monitored over the course of the leaching period. The concentrations of Cu and Ni leached by each strain were determined and compared. No significant differences were observed in the concentrations of Cu and Ni leached by the two pure cultures of T. ferrooxidans. Subsequently, the ore was leached with mixed cultures of T. ferrooxidans and T. acidophilus to determine the effect of the latter on the concentrations of Cu and Ni leached from the ore. The environmental strain F2 of T. ferrooxidans was used in combination with both a type strain (ATCC 27807) and an environmental strain (64) of T. acidophilus. After 21 days, the mixed cultures of T. ferrooxidans and T. acidophilus leached significantly greater amounts of copper than the pure strain alone, but no such difference was observed for the leaching of nickel.
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Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: 2001-04-01