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BacTech’s bioleach process for metals recovery has green side-effects

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BacTech's patented bioleaching process recovers valuable metals from old tailings, neutralizes sulphides causing acid rock drainage and stablizes toxic elements such as arsenic and cadmium.

Here's how the process works.

Old tailings are delivered to a flotation plant. During this process, a concentrate is produced containing sulphide minerals and metals. 95% of the tailings are returned to the tailings pile as harmless, inert rock, while the remaining 5%-the concentrate-goes to a series of bioleach tanks that contain sulphide-loving bacteria.

Since the bacteria create heat, the bioreactors are kept cool with water.

Over the course of a few days, what these bacteria do is astounding. The metal-rich concentrate contains arsenopyrite (FeAsS2) and pyrite (FeS2) which the bacteria thrive upon. The bacteria split the toxic molecules and consume the sulphur, so that Fe and As become water soluble.

This liquor now moves to the thickener where solid-liquid separation sends gold and silver in one direction and liquor with Fe, As and any base in another direction.

The liquor reports to the neutralization circuit where limestone (CaCO3) is added. In the neutralization tanks, the limestone neutralizes the Fe and As. When present, any copper, cobalt, nickel and zinc can be selectively recovered. Water is recycled in the process.

After filtering the liquor, three environmentally non-toxic bi-products are produced: Ferric arsenate (FeAsO4), gypsum (CaSO4) and ferric hydroxide (Fe(OH)3) which are delivered back to the tailings pile.

Back at the thickener, the gold and silver are pumped to a conventional Metals Recovery Plant.

From this process the company delivers our prized precious metals.

The bioleaching process continues until the tailings have been reclaimed and neutralized, and the project area has been returned to nature.

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