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Role of applied potentials on bioleaching of chalcopyrite concentrate and growth of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2014, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 215-222

Natarajan, K.A.; Kumari, A.


The effect of applied DC potentials on the bioleaching of a chalcopyrite concentrate in the presence of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is discussed. Copper dissolution was the highest at an applied potential of +600mV (SCE), while all the dissolved copper got cathodically deposited at a negative potential of -600mV (SCE). Electrobioleaching at an applied potential of +600mV (SCE) was established at different pulp densities as a function of time. The effect of applied potentials and electrolytic currents on the activity and growth of bacterial cells was assessed. Preadaptation of bacterial cells to the concentrate slurry and electrolytic growth conditions significantly enhanced copper dissolution.  Electrochemical and biochemical mechanisms involved in electrobioleaching are illustrated with respect to oxidative dissolution and biocatalysis of anodic oxidation.