Bacterial leaching as a pretreatment of refractory gold ores in sulphide matrix
Keywords:Bacterial leaching, Refractory gold ores
In this paper the effectiveness of bacterial leaching as a pretreatment of gold ores bearing sulphide minerals is analysed. Three kinds of matrixes are studied: pyrite, arsenopyrite and copper sulphides. It is concluded that bacterial leaching is an effective pretreatment for these refractory gold-bearing ores. In the case of a pyrite matrix a direct contact between the mineral and the microorganisms is necessary. In the case of copper or/and arsenic sulphide matrix, bacterial leaching may be carried out by indirect contact mechanism with effects separation, thus allowing faster kinetics than conventional bioleaching processes. This kinetic improvement reduces operation times and so the capital and operating costs. In a future, this fact may result in the enlargement of the profitable gold ore reserves, incorporating minerals that, at present, are not considered gold ores since there is not a technology, feasible from an economic point of view, for their treatment.
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