Thursday, 10 June 2021

Biomining '21 Day 4

Environmental applications of biotechnology in mining was the theme of today’s single session, commencing with a keynote lecture from Dr. Anna Kaksonen of CSIRO, Australia.  A former senior researcher at Tampere University of Technology, Finland, Anna joined CSIRO in 2009 as a team leader of Environmental and Industrial Biotechnology, and now leads CSIRO’s Industrial Biotechnology Group. Earlier this year she was appointed as an editor of Minerals Engineering.

Anna showed how the capability of microbes to catalyse oxidative and reductive bioprocesses as well as degrade organic compounds has been utilised for the removal of various contaminants from hydrometallurgical process waters and the treatment of effluents prior to release into the environment.  She reviewed recent developments in the environmental applications of biotechnology in mining, which was followed by examples from eight presentations from Chile, Germany, Poland, Spain and South Africa describing the bioremediation and metal recovery from acid mine waters.

It is evident that biotechnology will be an important weapon in such areas, but overall what will be the future of biomining?  This was the subject of a mid-day panel discussion, chaired by Prof Sue Harrison, one of MEI’s consultants to the conference, and Professor of Bioprocess Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Sue was a co-chairperson of the last panel discussion in the series, at Biomining ’14.

Sue started by summarising the conference and then introduced the panel members,  Prof. Sabrina Hedrich, of TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, and the three keynote lecturers, Chris Bryan, Barrie Johnson and Anna Kaksonen.

This was an excellent, wide ranging 2-hour discussion of many topics, which I will not attempt to summarise, suffice it to say that the recording is available on demand for another 6 months.  What was very encouraging was the interaction with the conference delegates who submitted very pertinent questions via the discussion forum.

After another very productive day, Jon closed the conference, thanking our sponsors once more, the presenters, the exhibitors and all delegates for taking part in the active online discussions. The presenters were invited to submit papers to Minerals Engineering for peer-review, with the aim of publication in a virtual special issue of the conference.

These discussions can continue for a further 6 months, as the conference presentations and panel discussion will remain online, and we invite further registrations at any time. 

We would greatly appreciate your feedback on the conference, and invite you to submit your comments and criticisms to this blog post, as your opinions will be of great value to us as we progress to future events. Let us know what you thought about the networking sessions, and how you found browsing the virtual exhibit booths. If you were an exhibitor did you find the virtual experience a worthwhile substitute to a physical presence?

Thank you all of you for your support. It will be interesting to see how biomining will develop over the next few years, and what will transpire at the next event in the series, details of which will be announced shortly.


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