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Revista argentina de microbiología

Print version ISSN 0325-7541On-line version ISSN 1851-7617


JAVAD KAZEMI, Mohammad et al. The wide distribution of an extremely thermoacidophilic microorganism in the copper mine at ambient temperature and under acidic condition and its significance in bioleaching of a chalcopyrite concentrate. Rev. argent. microbiol. [online]. 2019, vol.51, n.1, pp.56-65. ISSN 0325-7541.

Thermoacidophiles can exist in a state of dormancy both in moderate temperatures and even in cold conditions in heap leaching. Sulphide mineral ores such as chalcopyrite produce sulfuric acid when exposed to the air and water. The produced sulfuric acid leads to the decrease of pH and exothermic reactions in heap leaching causing the temperature to increase up to 55 °C and the activation of thermoacidophilic microorganisms. The aim of the present study was to isolate indigenous extreme thermoacidophilic microorganisms at ambient temperature from Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, to adapt them to the high pulp density of a chalcopyrite concentrate, and to determine their efficiency in chalcopyrite bioleaching in order to recover copper. In this study samples were collected at ambient temperature from Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex in Iran. Mixed samples were inoculated into the culture medium for enrichment of the microorganisms. Pure cultures from these enrichments were obtained by subculture of liquid culture to solid media. Morphological observation was performed under the scanning electron microscope. Isolates were adapted to 30% (w/v) pulp density. For the bioleaching test, the experiments were designed with DX7 software. Bioleaching experiments were carried out in Erlenmeyer flasks and a stirred tank reactor. The highest copper recovery in Erlenmeyer flasks was 39.46% with pulp 15%, inoculums 20%, size particle 90 pm and 160 rpm. The lowest recovery was 3.81% with pulp 20%, inoculums 20%, size particle 40 pm and 140 rpm after 28 days. In the reactor, copper recovery was 32.38%. Bioleaching residues were analyzed by the X-ray diffraction (XRD) method. The results showed no jarosite (KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6) had formed in the bioleaching experiments. It seems that the antagonistic reactions among various species and a great number of planktonic cells in Erlenmeyer flasks and the stirred tank reactor are the reasons for the low recovery of copper in our study.

Keywords : Chalcopyrite; Thermoacidophilic; Bioleaching; Copper recovery; Antagonistic reactions.

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