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Bioleaching potential of bacterial communities in historic mine waste areas

Amin, Nida, Schneider, Dominik, Hoppert, Michael
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.14 pp. 542
Acidithiobacillus, Leptospirillum, bacterial communities, bioleaching, copper, cultural heritage, decontamination, drainage, enrichment culture, iron, leaching, lead, manganese, microbial activity, mining, nickel, pH, pulp, remediation, slags, solubilization, wastes, zinc, Germany
Microbial activity has the potential to alter all cultural heritage in mining and metallurgy, due to metal mobilization by leaching. This communication shows the consequences of the bioleaching ability of two natural enrichments on copper slag samples from a historic ore smelting site in Sangerhausen (Mansfeld, Südharz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany). Enrichment cultures gained from mine drainage were dominated by either the iron and sulfur-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, or by the iron-oxidizing Leptospirillum. During 35 days of bioleaching in media containing copper slag pulp, inoculated with these enrichments, the change in pH and solubilized metal concentrations of the systems were monitored. Both bacterial strains were completely different from each other in their pattern of pH variation and rates of metal solubilization. The maximum removal of Cu (1725 mg/l) and Zn (715 mg/l) from copper slag substrate was achieved with enrichment culture of A. ferrivorans SCUT-1. However, maximum Mn (207 mg/l), Pb (86 mg/l), and Ni (75 mg/l) removal was observed with enrichment culture of Leptospirillum strain YQP-1. Implications for metal mobilization along with alteration of artifacts from not only historic mining areas but also aspects of decontamination and remediation are discussed.