Gold digger microbes

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

a new line of gold miners are waiting to be engaged in the extraction of the metal in the country. Developed by scientists at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Thiobacillus ferooxidans, micro-organisms that can digest sulphides in metallic ores and help engineers recover metals, will be unleashed into a 100-kg bioreactor at the Hutti gold mines in Raichur district of Karnataka. Specifically, the role of Thiobacillus ferooxidans is to release gold trapped within a cluster of sulphide molecules. In nature, this is a very slow process. The specially designed bioreactor significantly enhances this bacteria-aided release of metals. This technology acquires particular importance today as India's annual gold production stands at two tonnes while the demand for gold continues to ride as high as 450 tonnes and even more. The technology will enable an increase in extraction of 50 to 80 per cent from an ore sample. And there is another good news, microbial release of gold is absolutely eco-friendly with low capital costs.

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