Thursday, 8 April 2021

How green is bioprocessing?

The modern era of biomining began in the 1960s, with low-tech “dump leaching” used to recover copper from what had been considered to be waste (run-of-mine) rock. “Biomining” has since evolved into a variety of more complex engineered practices, including bioheap leaching and stirred tank operations. 

Protagonists, and particularly researchers justifying support from industry and research councils, have often promulgated the notion that bio-processing is a much “greener” method of winning metals than conventional (e.g. pyrometallurgy and pressure leaching) approaches. But according to Prof. Barrie Johnson, of Bangor University, UK, such claims do not always stand up to close scrutiny. 

In his forthcoming keynote lecture “How green was my biomining?”; a personal critique of the of the limitations and untapped potential of applying bioprocessing techniques for metal extraction and recovery", at Biomining '21 in June, Barrie will give a critical overview of the environmental impact of biotechnologies in mineral processing and metal recovery, identifying areas where existing approaches have (and do not have) significant green credentials, and will also highlight where new developments, currently at the laboratory or pilot-scale stage of development, could have major environmental impact in future years.

Barrie Johnson with Bangor University colleagues at Biohydromet '16 in Falmouth

Biomining '21 will be MEI's 10th International Symposium on Biomining,the postponed Biomining '20, which was scheduled to be held in Falmouth.


1 comment:

  1. Prof. Barrie Johnson, you really made me feel comfortable; for the last twenty years, I have expressing similar views on bioleaching; in fact, I was the only expert who rejected well-defended project proposals related to this in many project selection meetings.
    More work on the type, the time taken, whether to be leached mineral is exposed enough in the heap; rehandling tailing dumps---so on and on. Many test-tube studies excited many--I say step back, think all aspects.
    Good curtain-raiser, Barry


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