Short Course 1

Biotechnologies for the treatment of mining and metallurgical wastewater on the context of metal recovery


Denys Villa Gomez, University of Queensland, Australia


1 day on Sunday (2021-07-11)


This course will provide a complete insight on the currently bio-based alternatives for mine wastewater treatment, including biological sulphate/sulphur reduction, biosorption, or enzymatic reductive precipitation among others.

The application of these technologies is a step forward from using chemicals, eliminating the costs associated with the acquisition of reagents, and in the case of biological sulphate reduction, it uses a pollutant usually present in metal-containing wastewaters (i.e. sulfate) and it allows the production of sulfide on-site, thus avoiding transportation of hazardous chemicals. Currently, an increasing number of mining companies are evaluating these technologies, either in their processes or in wastewater treatment applications. The application of these microorganisms offers the potential for enhanced metal recovery and a sustainable strategy for handling water and solid wastes.

The effect on the water sector through this course is a change of thinking from considering treatment of mine-impacted water as a cost, to consider it as a resource that can provide revenue. This, by overcoming the barriers on lacking know-how of the process and the further adaptation of these technologies case by case to receive a more widespread implementation of these technologies. The knowledge and application of these microbial-based technologies are an important way to green up the industry, reducing environmental risks and improving the efficiency and the economy of mine water treatment through metal recovery.

At the completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental principles and commonly applied biotechnologies to recover metals from various wastewater streams, including the advantages, disadvantages and typical application area of each technology;
  • Set a design basis for the different metal recovery technologies, conduct preliminary reactor sizing and calculate performance predictions;
  • Identify opportunities, challenges and research needs for metal recovery from other streams in terms of environmental and economic benefits.