Phytomining and Bioleaching

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  • Created by: Louise98
  • Created on: 15-04-14 19:37


We are running out of high grade copper mines as they are nearly empty. This means there isn't enough copper within the mines to keep on digging as it isn't cost effective. This means we will have to go back to traditional mining and phytomining.The copper ions are absorbed from the roots in the soil. This comes from a low grade copper source.The copper ions are absorbed by the roots which means they have been taken on by the plants. The plant which has copper in is burned so then oxygen is released also this leads to the production of a waste gas Co2. By burning the plant the oxygen is reacting with copper. This makes copper oxide. The ash which contains the copper compound is put through electrolysis.

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Bioleaching is the extraction of specific metals from their ores through the use of bacteria. They do this by producing leachate solutions that contain the metal compounds. A leachate is simply the solution we get when a liquid passes through an organism. The bacteria gets energy from the bond between copper and sulfur to separate the copper from the ore. It can thereore be used to extract copper from its ore in a relatively clean process. Bacteria are usually used in the process. Biolesching is very economical as it is very simple. This makes it quite a cheap process. It is also environmentally friendly unlike traditional methods of mining. Bioleaching can be used on ores that are poor in quality. However the process is very slow and the efficiency is very low so there is a lot of waste.

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