Periodic Bioleaching of Refractory Gold-Bearing Pyrite Ore

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The main characteristics of a periodic bioleaching of the refractory gold-bearing pyrite ore from the Tandzut deposit (Armenia) with the help of moderate thermophilic bacterium Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans subsp. asporogenes and original thermotolerant strains Leptospirillum spp. were studied. The optimal pH for oxidizing the ore by S. thermosulfidooxidans subsp. asporogenes was 1.8; the pulp density providing maximal iron leaching rate was 10%. The intensity of oxidation processes decreased at higher ore concentrations. When using S. thermosulfidooxidans subsp. asporogenes, the largest amount of iron passed into the solution at the initial oxidant (Fe3+) concentration of 1.3 g/l. Cocultivation of S. thermosulfidooxidans subsp. asporogenes and Leptospirillum spp. increased the degree of pyrite ore leaching to 98.4% vs. 34.1% in the case of the former bacterium alone.

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