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FP6

BIOMINE Report Summary

Project ID: 500329
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: France

Final Report Summary - BIOMINE (Biotechnology for Metal bearing materials in Europe)

Biohydrometallurgy, as explored in BIOMINE, is a recent technical area that is based on specific interactions between microorganisms and minerals to extract metals from raw materials. The field of the applications of biohydrometallurgy that want to tackle low-grade complex resources is quite pertinent within the European geological context. The challenges of the BIOMINE project was to go beyond the limits of our fundamental understanding of bio-hydrometallurgy and to develop, improve, and / or better integrate biotechnological processes for recovery of metals from primary and secondary metal bearing materials. The technological breakthroughs resulting from BIOMINE must allow the integration of innovative biotechnology-based processes for recovery and / or removal of metals from primary materials such as ores and concentrates, secondary materials such as mining wastes, metallurgical slags, and combustion / power plant ashes.

The developed processes give consideration for eco-design and a reduced impact on environment. The investigated biotechnologies, which cover almost all the aspects of the application of biohydrometallurgy, have included bioleaching, bio-oxidation, biosorption, bioreduction, bio-accumulation, bioprecipitation, bioflotation, bioflocculation, and biosensors.

The main ultimate objective has been to determine the specifications of environmentally friendly biotechnologies that are economically attractive particularly at a small scale, especially suitable for the European situation. They will in some circumstances provide an alternative to current technologies such as roasting and smelting for difficult-to-treat resources and often in a complementary way of processing materials to extend the feed of metal sources for Europe.

The breakthroughs under the BIOMINE project have been commercially evaluated by integrated piloting of the new, or improved, processes together with preliminary economic assessments of European resources. This will provide a sound basis for decisions by industrial companies on whether to then proceed to commercial demonstration. The competition of biohydrometallurgical treatments with conventional processes can only be successful if this would eventually lead to substantial improvements for metal production by increased recovery, reduced costs, reduced energy demands, increased revenue, access to new resources, better compliance with the environmental regulations and/or better acceptance from the public of the mining activities in Europe.

BIOMINE has been a very productive project in many aspects of a field that is still insufficiently recognised at industrial scale and not so well known from the largest audience. It has opened the road to a new perception of the exploitation of the mineral resources in Europe. It has particularly demonstrated that the analysis of the issue of searching for a reduction of the import of base metals could be approached in two converging directions.

One was from the geological resources point of view and the other from the processing technologies one. At the crossing point of the two rationales, new concepts could come up. BIOMINE did show which biohydrometallurgical technologies would be relevant to European mineral resources for extending the potential of production of metals in this region. Fundamental and applied research has given more substance to the credibility of biohydrometallurgy in general because participants have been able to significantly improve knowledge and know-how in this area.

Finally, the results of the project support the idea that mining operators should seriously consider biohydrometallurgy for the processing of metal-bearing minerals as a real opportunity for a more profitable exploitation of European resources in a more sustainable way than ever. A network of highly qualified organisations across Europe is ready to provide a pertinent expertise for fostering their needs in this matter.

Related information

Reported by

BUREAU DE RECHERCHES GEOLOGIQUES ET MINIERES
PARIS
France
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