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Science News

Courtesy NOAA

Picture Info

Pluto skate resting on iron-stained ocean bottom with manganese nodules.

Source article

Bioresource Technology

Published By

Dr. Dick van der Wateren


Mining, Microbes, Biomining

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Using Microbes To Mine Manganese: Promising Prospects

09.01.2012, Age: 3578 days

Microbes can be used in all sorts of ways, from cleaning wastewater, removing oil spills and heavy metals, to producing biofuels. A promising new application is the use of microbes in mining of manganese from waste and deep sea deposits, reports a recent article by a group of Indian scientists.

News item submitted by Lala Behari Sukla (Bioresources Engineering, India).

Manganese (Mn)-modifying microorganisms may provide a means for recovering this mineral from mining scraps and deep-sea nodules, according to geomicrobiologist Lala Sukla from the Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (CSIR) and his collaborators there and at Siksha O Anusandhan University, both in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, in India. Their review of such prospects, which they deem promising, appears in the journal Bioresource Technology. ... more in Microbe Magazine

A.P. Das, L.B. Sukla, N. Pradhan, S. Nayak. 2011. Manganese biomining: A review. Bioresource Technology, Volume 102, Issue 16, 7381-7387. Link to article>>


Biomining comprises of processing and extraction of metal from their ores and concentrates using microbial techniques. Currently this is used by the mining industry to extract copper, uranium and gold from low grade ores but not for low grade manganese ore in industrial scale. The study of microbial genomes, metabolites and regulatory pathways provide novel insights to the metabolism of bioleaching microorganisms and their synergistic action during bioleaching operations. This will promote understanding of the universal regulatory responses that the biomining microbial community uses to adapt to their changing environment leading to high metal recovery. Possibility exists of findings ways to imitate the entire process during industrial manganese biomining endeavor. This paper reviews the current status of manganese biomining research operations around the world, identifies factors that drive the selection of biomining as a processing technology, describes challenges in exploiting these innovations, and concludes with a discussion of Mn biomining’s future.

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