Pilot-Scale Bioleaching of Metals from Pyritic Ashes

Elina A. Vuorenmaa, Jarno Mäkinen, Tero Korhonen, Raisa Neitola, Anna H. Kaksonen (Corresponding Author)

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Solid waste from sulfuric acid production may contain relatively high levels of metals such as Fe, Zn, Co, Cu and As that are harmful if inappropriately disposed of in the environment, but may be a valuable resource if metals can be recovered. The objective of this research was to investigate the pilot-scale acid bioleaching of metals from pyritic ashes, originating from the roasting of pyrite ores for sulfuric acid production and consisting mainly of hematite. Bioleaching was carried out at 25 °C in pilot-scale continuously stirred tank reactors (CSTR), with 50 L working volume in mineral salts medium supplemented with trace elements, 1 % (w/v) elemental sulfur and with pyritic ash pulp densities 10 % and 20 %. The reactors were inoculated with a mixed culture of iron- and sulfur-oxidising acidophiles containing Acidithiobacillus (At.) ferrooxidans, At. thiooxidans/albertensis, At. caldus, Leptospirillum ferrooxidans, Sulfobacillus (Sb.) thermosulfidooxidans, Sb. thermotolerans and some members of Alicyclobacillus genus. Metal leaching yields from pyritic ashes in the CSTR after 32 days were 54.6-56.7 % Cu, 41.7-43.2 % Zn, 1.7-1.8 % Co, 3.0-5.4 % As and 0.3-0.5 % Fe. Solution pH decreased during the experiment from 2.9 to 1.9-2.2. Elemental analysis using X-ray fluorescence showed that the contents of metals, except for As, in the leach residue were below the higher guideline values given in the Government decree on the assessment of the soil contamination and remediation needs by the Ministry of the Environment, Finland. Bioleaching facilitated the extraction of metals from pyritic ashes and the mitigation of environmental risks related to the residue disposal for other metals except for As.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-150
    Number of pages4
    JournalSolid State Phenomena
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication


    • Acidophile
    • Bioleaching
    • Contaminant
    • Metals
    • Pyritic ash
    • Waste


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