Microbes and mining: Utilising nature's cleaners for site remediation

CSIRO scientists are using microbes and other methods to remove valuable metals and other contaminants from mine wastewater

Microscope

As Fran Mallow reports in the CSIRO's Resourceful magazine, using these novel technologies can process wastewater so that it’s pure enough to be safely returned to the environment. The water can also be recycled and reused in mine production.

CSIRO's Anna Kaksonen is an environmental scientist in Perth and leads the research group working in biotechnology for water quality.

"Certain microbes can help to either oxidise or reduce metals or other compounds, like sulphate, nitrate or selenate, so we can remove them from water," Dr Kaksonen says.

"Microbes can also be used to clean up organic impurities and reduce acidity or alkalinity.

"For example, wastewater from the alumina industry has a lot of organic impurities that can accumulate in the water used in ore processing."

To continue reading about this and other resources related research, access Issue 16 of CSIRO's Resourceful magazine, here.

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