Monday, 19 October 2015

International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2015 - Report by Amanda Wills

The 21st International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium (IBS 2015), organised by the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) and Perhapi (Association of Indonesian Mining Professionals) and sponsored by PT Freeport IndonesiaNewmontPertamina, and J Resources, with MEI as media partners, was held at the Grand Inna Beach Hotel, Sancur, Bali from October 5-8, 2015.

Monday October 5

After registering early on Monday morning I had the rest of the day free whilst a course - "Cultivation and Molecular Techniques for Isolating, Cultivating and Identifying Extreme Acidophiles" - was taught by Raquel Quatrini and Barrie Johnson, authors of "Acidophiles: Life in Extremely Acidic Environments", from 8am till 4.45pm. I got my first chance to meet the other delegates at the Opening Ceremony later that evening.

Amanda Wills with Zaki Mubarok,
IBS 2015 Chairman
The Opening Ceremony began with an address by the conference chairman, Zaki Mubarok, head of the Metallurgical Engineering Department at ITB. As well as welcoming the IBS series to Indonesia for the first time, Zaki informed us that 160 abstracts had been accepted for the conference, representing 24 countries and divided into 96 oral presentations and 64 posters.

David Holmes, Director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Genome Biology at the Fundacion Ciencia y Vida, Santiago, Chile, then presented the Inaugural Keynote Address: "Navigating the Genomes-to-Ecosystems Cascade in Biomining Environments". After talking us through, amongst other things, the differences between the core genome and the pan genome, David ended with what has now become a tradition for inaugural keynotes at the IBS; some predictions for the future. These were:

1. More biomining genomes will become available
2. Nanomicrobiology will enhance our understanding of bioming environments
3. Cultivation of the 'uncultivatable' from bioming environment

David Holmes presented the Inaugral Keynote Address
David was presented with a certificate and a batik by Mariekie Gericke, Head of Microbiology at Mintek, South Africa, after which we were ushered outside, where the Gala Dinner took place next to the beach. An extensive buffet of Balinese food was accompanied by entertainment from traditional Balinese dancers and musicians.

Traditional dancers at the Gala Dinner

After dinner, I headed to the hotel's beach bar with Barrie Johnson, head of the Bangor Acidophile Research Team, UK, and his wife Jan, Frank Roberto, of Newmont Mining Corporation, USA, and his wife Megan, Angela Murray and Lynne Macaskie, of the University of Birmingham, UK, to sample the local beer, Bintang, which I must say, was very drinkable!

Tuesday October 6

The first day proper of the conference began with the first of three keynote addresses. Jan van Niekerk, MD of Biomin, South Africa, presented "Factors Affecting the Selection of Biox as the Preferred Technology of a Refractory Gold Concentrate", in which he spoke not just about the technical criteria for selection but also the overall project economic evaluation, risks involved, impact on the environment and local communities, process operability, and the implementation strategy.

Following this, the presentations were split into two parallel sessions. Session 1B , "Microbe-Mineral Interactions", included an interesting talk from Paivi Kinnunen, of the VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland, on "Industrial Views to Microbe-Metal Interactions in Sub-Artic Conditions" which highlighted the potential of industrial bioprocess utilization in cold climates while emphasizing their special characteristics and challenges.

Session 1A was focused on "Bioleaching of Copper Ores and Concentrates". It included presentations from Roberto Bobadilla Fazzini, Research, Development and Innovation Manager at BioSigma, S.A, on "Mineralogical Dynamics during Copper Sulfides Bioleaching, the Search for the Missing Link", Mohammad Khoshkhoo, of Lulea University of Technology, on the "Role of Microbial Activity in Bioleaching of a Pyritic and a Pure Chalcopyrite Concentrate", and Naomi J. Boxall, of CSIRO, Australia, on "Chalcopyrite Bioleaching at High Sulfate Concentrations".

After coffee, Axel Schippers, of BGR, Germany, presented the first of six invited talks, entitled "Reductive Bioleaching for Extracting Metals from Oxidised Ores such as Laterites and Manganese Nodules", following which, Session 1A continued up to lunch and Session 1C, "Bioflotation, Biosorption and Bioaccumulation" began.

I had a nice chat over lunch with Simone Schopf, Fabian Giebner, and Sophie Ullrich of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, Sabine Kutschke, of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany, and Paivi Kinnunen,  of the VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland.

The sit-down buffet lunches were excellent
The afternoon sessions began with the second invited talk, "Saline Water Bioleaching with Thermophilic Fe(II) Oxidising Microorganisms", presented by Elizabeth Watkins, of Curtin University, Australia. In which, Elizabeth described how work on the chloride tolerance of three Fe (II)- and sulfur-oxidising thermophiles and the effect of chloride on metals extraction from mineral sulfates lead them to conclude that the rank order of NaCl tolerance is Sulfolobus metallicus >>> Acidianus brierleyi >>> Metallosphaera hakonensis.
This took us into the afternoon sessions, 2A and 2B, "Bioleaching of Sulfide Ores and Wastes" and "Fundamental Microbiology" respectively, each of which included a half hour coffee break before finishing at 4.30pm for Poster Session 1.

Tri Wahyuningsih (right) of the Institut Teknologi Badung, Indonesia,
with her winning poster, "Assessment of Surface Properties of
Silica-Bacterial Cell Complex: A Potential Application
for Silicate Bioflotation Processes"

Poster Session 1 was well attended

That evening, dinner was provided for the delegates. As with lunch it was a sit-down buffet and it was excellent with a good selection of meat, fish and vegetable dishes to choose from. Entertainment was provided by students from ITB  who demonstrated how to play the traditional bamboo instruments which we had all been given in our delegate packs. They gave a fine rendition of Que Sera, Sera... and then invited delegates up to have a go!

Students from ITB demonstrate how to play the bamboo instruments
which we received in our delegate packs

Anna Kasonen plays her note
After dinner, I joined the same group as Monday night, minus Lynne who had final checks to make for her presentation the next morning. This evening we headed a little further afield, to another beach bar to the north of our hotel. More Bintang's were consumed!
Wednesday October 7

Today began at 8am with the second keynote lecture. Delivered by David Dreisinger, of the Uni. of British Columbia, Canada, it was entitled "The Production of Soluble Ferric Sulphate via Biological and Chemical Processing of Iron Sulfides".

Angela Murray, of the Uni. of Birmingham, UK, opened Session 3A, "Downstream Processing & Metal", with a talk on "Biosynthesis of Zinc Sulfide Quantum Dots using Waste Off-gas from Metal Bioremediation Process", in which she explained how the clean recycling of minewater in bioremediation process waste gas can be used to produce high value quantum dots product.

Lynne Macaskie, of the Uni. of Birmingham, UK, presents
"Biorecovery of Rare Earth Elements: Potential Application for Mine Water Remediation"

Meanwhile, Session 3B, "Microbial Ecology and Communities" was opened with a paper by Sabine Willscher, of TU Dresden, Germany, entitled "Comparison of Microbial and Geochemical Conditions of Lignite Coal Spoil and Overburden Areas and their Environmental Impact".

After coffee, Keiko Sasaki, of Kyushu University, Japan, presented the third invited talk, "Spectroscopic and Microscopic Investigation for Biohydrometallurgy". This was followed by Session 3C, "Bioremediation of Metal-Bearing Wastes" and Session 3D, "Molecular Biology Research". Delegates were then treated to a longer than planned lunch break due to a few no shows in the programme, including the fourth invited speaker.

Sessions 4A, "Bioreactor Based Research", and 4B, "Phytoremediation/Bioremediation" took us up to the afternoon coffee break. Raquel Quatrini, of Andres Bello University, Chile, presented the fifth invited talk, "Genomic Taxonomy of the Acidithiobacilli". This emerging field of study embraces aspects of evolutionary biology and population genomics in order to uncover the phylogenetic structure of the domains of life, with the goal of extracting valuable taxonomic clues from available genomic information. This can then be used to establish a solid framework for the identification classification and study of prokaryote species.

After Raquel's talk, Sessions 4D, "Microbial Corrosion and Electrochemistry", and 4C, "Fundamental Studies", took us up to the second poster session.

Sarah Smith, of Bangor University, UK, with her poster
"Oxidative and Reductive Bioprocessing of Cobalt-Containing
Ores and Biomineralisation of Cobaltiferous Leachates"

Eva Pakostova, of Bangor University, UK,
with her winning poster, "Indirect Bioleaching of Sulfidic Ores
and its Importance for the Development of in situ
Processing of Deep-Buried Base Metal Deposits"
Delegates had this evening free, so I headed to the beach with Angela Murray and Lynne Macaskie for a refreshing drink of coconut water, followed by a pizza at a beach bar.

Thursday October 8

The last day of the conference was a half day, with a social trip held in the afternoon/evening. The day began with the third keynote speaker, Ricardo Amils, of the Centro de Astrobiologia, Spain, presenting "Geomicrobiology of Rio Tinto, a Model of Interest in Biohydrometallurgy". Ricardo's research group has been working on the Tinto basin for more than 30 years and have proven that the extreme conditions found there are due to an active subsurface bioreactor that obtains its energy from the high concentration of massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, rather than mining. Two drilling projects have provided evidence of subsurface microbial activities operating in this bioreactor and the resources provided by the rock matrix to support them, and Ricardo discussed its biohydrometallurgical interest.

Session 5A, "New Applications of Mineral Bioprocessing Technologies" then took place in Room A until lunchtime, with the usual half hour break for coffee in the middle, whilst Session 5B, "Impact of Mining and Bioremediation of Wastes", took place in Room B until coffee, after which Session 5C, "Recent Developments in Microbiology" took us up to lunch.

After lunch, we all met again for the final keynote speaker, Mariekie Gericke, of Mintek, South Africa, who gave an informative talk on "Base Metal Tank Bioleaching: from Laboratory Test Work to Commercialisation". Mariekie outlined Mintek's approach to chalcopyrite leaching and concluded that, amongst other things, bioleaching of base metal concentrates should be viewed as a niche technology, with treatment of polymetallic sulfide concentrates remaining the most likely niche for the application of agitated tank bioleaching for base metal concentrates.

Mariekie Gericke of Mintek, South Africa concluded the conference with her keynote lecture
"Base Metal Tank Bioleaching: from Laboratory Test Work to Commercialisation"

Mariekie's talk ended the technical portion of the conference and was followed by the presentation of medals for the best 5 posters and the best 3 oral presentations.

Best poster awards went to:
1. Subhabrata Das, of the National University of Singapore, for "Gold Biodissolution from Electronic Scrap and Biomineralization of Bacterial Gold Nanoparticles".
2. Sabrina Hedrich, of BGR, Germany, for "Biotechnological Recovery of Valuable Metals from Lignite Ash".
3. Masahito Tanoka, of Kyushu University, Japan, for "Effect of Cu(II) on Bio-scondite Crystallisation using Acideanus brierleyi".
4. Eva Pakostova, of Bangor University, UK, for "Indirect Bioleaching of Sulfidic Ores and its Importance for the Development of in situ Processing of Deep-Buried Base Metal Deposits".
5. Tri Wahyuningsih, of the Institut Teknologi Badung, Indonesia, for "Assessment of Surface Properties of Silica-Bacterial Cell Complex: A Potential Application for Silicate Bioflotation Processes".

Best oral presentation awards went to:
1. Hee-Chan Jang, of the Uni. of Sydney, Australia, for "Overcoming the Bacteriostatic Effects of Heavy Metals on A. Thiooxidans Direct Bioleaching of Saprolitic Ni Laterite Ores".
2. Christian Thyssen, of the Uni.of Duisberg-Essen, Germany, for "Biofilm Formation and Stainless Steel Corrosion Analysis of Leptothrix discophora".
3. Jeong He Kim, for "The Effect of Streptomyces sp. Isolated from Acidic Cultures of Minerals on Plant Development in Environments Polluted with Mecury".

Next up was the announcement that the IBS 2017 will be held on the 24-27 September, 2017, in Freiberg, Germany. Delegates from Germany presented a short video on the benefits on holding the IBS in Freiberg, while stressing that this will be a European IBS rather than a German one.

There then followed two bids for the IBS 2019, one from Perth, Australia and one from Fukuoka, Japan. Delegates voted via a show of hands for their preferred venue, with Fukuoka winning by a slim margin.

The conference chairman, Zaki Mubarak, concluded events with a closing speech before we all boarded coaches for the social event. A fairly long drive was made easier by our enthusiastic tour guide for the afternoon, Ketut, who kept up an interesting commentary on our way to Uluwatu Temple.

Delegates at Uluwatu Temple wearing their blue IBS 2015 polo shirts
Uluwatu Temple is one of six key temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70m above the sea. The highlight of our visit was a fantastic performance of the Ramayana & Fire Dance, which we viewed with a a backdrop of the sun setting into the ocean. This Kecak dance is a combination of ancient ritual, dance and drama, accompanied by a choir of chanting and singing men. It was quite spectacular!

The Ramayana & fire Dance is a Kecak dance, which involves many men
chanting constantly throughout the performance
The white monkey was the star of the show!
The giants attempt to burn the white monkey alive
We then boarded the coaches for a short trip to Jimbaran Beach, where we were treated to a seafood BBQ and entertained by traditional dancers and a more modern roving band who took requests.

Seafood BBQ at Jinbaran Beach
Roving band at the seafood BBQ
Barrie and Jan Johnson pose with the traditional dancers
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers of IBS 2015 on a well run conference in a stunning location. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bali and came away with happy memories, new knowledge, and new friendships. I will be making every effort to attend IBS 2017!


  1. I knew I should have taken this assignment! Excellent report Amanda on what was obviously a great conference. Not a bad venue either. Is there a Proceedings generally available? Hopefully we will see many of the delegates from IBS '15 at Biohydromet '16

  2. Excellent report
    Jorge Lema PatiƱo

  3. It seems & sounds as a good conference, great speakers & amazing spectacles

  4. A great review. Thanks a lot.
    Subhabrata Das
    National University of Singapore


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