Monday, 26 April 2021

What is the future for biomining?

Biohydrometallurgy is an important technology used by the mining industry, mainly for the recovery of copper from low-grade ores and in the pre-treatment of gold-bearing refractory concentrates. 

However, despite the excitement of 40 years ago, it remains a niche technology; applied where it offers unique advantages or no alternative exists. Advances in competing hydrometallurgical processes, such as chloride leaching and HPAL mean bioleaching is at risk of losing ground. 

To halt this potential decline, and to make biomining more competitive in an increasingly busy space, serious scientific and technological advances are required, according to Dr. Chris Bryan, of BRGM, France. 

In his keynote lecture "Bridging the gaps in biomining research and application" at Biomining '21 in June, Chris will show that biohydrometallurgy is incredibly exciting, as few other technologies combine so many different disciplines. However, research is rather disparate, with relatively few resources. More than ever, as a community we need to consider how best to advance the state of the art: how to avoid the no-man’s land between academic knowledge and industrial needs and what are the key research questions. 

Chris has been a consultant for many years now on MEI's Biomining (formerly Biohydromet) conferences. Formerly a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Mining at the Camborne School of Mines, he is now Head of the Geomicrobiology and Environmental Monitoring Unit, French Geological Survey (BRGM).

Chris Bryan (right) at Biohydromet '16 with
Shafiq Alam of University of Saskatchewan

Chris's keynote will complement that of Prof. Barrie Johnson (posting of 8th April 2021), who will give a personal critique of the limitations and untapped potential of applying bioprocessing techniques for metal extraction and recovery.

In a 3rd keynote at the conference Dr. Anna Kaksonen (posting of 12 October 2018) will show how biotechnology is set to have an increasingly important role in the quest for the circular economy, particularly in remediation, treatment of tailings, electronic and other wastes, and as a potential aid to processes such as flotation.

These three keynotes will provide the basis for the panel discussion "What is the future for biomining". The full programme for the conference will be published very soon.


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