Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, Vol.78, No.5, 497-503, 2003
Bioleaching of copper and other metals from low-grade oxidized mining ores by Aspergillus niger
A study was initiated to determine the feasibility of using the fungus Aspergillus niger for bioleaching metals from oxide low-grade ore. Large quantities of the metals are embodied in the low-grade ores and mining residues that can be recovered. Presently available techniques (pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical) are expensive or may have a negative impact on the environment. An oxidized mining ore containing mainly copper (7245 mg kg(-1) residue) was studied. In this study, the fungus A niger produced a variety of organic acids. Addition of small quantities of sulfuric acid enhanced the organic acids, efficiency. Various agricultural wastes were evaluated as substrates and a maximum solubilization of 68% for copper for a medium containing potato peels was achieved. In conclusion, leaching of copper from a mining ore is technically feasible using A niger. Further research must be performed to increase the rate of copper removal. (C) 2003 Society of Chemical Industry.