Two step meso-acidophilic bioleaching of chalcopyrite containing ball mill spillage and removal of the surface passivation layer

Bioresour Technol. 2013 Feb;130:332-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2012.12.071. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Meso-acidophilic bacterial leaching of ball mill spillage (containing chalcopyrite >80%) was carried out in an innovative two-step bioleaching method. The major drawback of meso-acidophilic bioleaching limiting industrial application is the passivation phenomenon over the ore surfaces in iron-sulfur rich environments. In the present study, we present a novel wash solution that efficiently removed the passivation layer. FTIR characterization of the bioleached sample indicated that the residues could be further leached to recover extra copper after wash solution application. XRD study indicated accumulation of sulfates (SO(4)(-)) of Na, K, Fe and oxy hydroxides of iron [FeO(OH)] in the form of jarosite outlining the passivation layer. SEM, FESEM-EDS studies indicated severe corrosion effects of the wash solution on the passivation layer. Two step bioleaching of the ore sample yielded 32.6% copper in 68days in the first interlude and post wash solution application yielded 10.8% additional copper.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidithiobacillus / metabolism*
  • Carbonates / chemistry
  • Copper / chemistry
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Industrial Waste
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Sodium / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Waste Management*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Carbonates
  • Industrial Waste
  • chalcopyrite
  • Copper
  • Sodium
  • ammonium carbonate