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Metal extraction using bioleaching: an example from the Old Tailings Dam, Tasmania, Australia


Parbhakar-Fox, A and Kemp, D and Glen, J, Metal extraction using bioleaching: an example from the Old Tailings Dam, Tasmania, Australia, Biohydrometallurgy 2016, 20-22 June 2016, Cornwall, United Kingdom, pp. 1-14. (2016) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

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Mineralogical and geochemical characterisation of sulphide minerals in historic tailings can assist in determining whether there are economic and environmental benefits of reprocessing such materials using modern metallurgical practices. At the Old Tailings Dam (OTD), Savage River, Western Tasmania, 38 million tonnes of pyritic tailings were deposited (1967 to 1982), and has since been generating acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD). Long term management options considered for this site have included the establishment of either a water, hard engineered or vegetation cover. However, due to geotechnical challenges posed and the lack of success demonstrated by previous pilot studies, these strategies have not been implemented. A detailed mineral chemistry indicated elevated cobalt in pyrite (up to 3 wt. %), however, as this is refractory, recovery via biohydrometallurgical processing was tested.

Bulk tailings samples (n= 4) were collected across the OTD from up to between 0.5 to 1.5 m depth specifically targeting three sulphide-bearing facies (C - E), across four physical zones (1 to 4; defined by hydrological regime and grain size). A bulk composite of these materials was subjected to bacterial oxidation using BIOX® bacteria to determine if Co could effectively be leached under standard operating conditions. Our adaption testwork shows that the BIOX® bacteria were well adapted to the lean OTD feed material after 10 days with 93% cobalt recovery. This indicates that reprocessing of these deleterious materials may be a viable option for managing this historic site as part of a larger tailings desulphurisation management strategy.

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:biohydrometallurgy, AMD, tailings, Tasmania, cobalt
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geochemistry
Research Field:Exploration geochemistry
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Evaluation, allocation, and impacts of land use
UTAS Author:Parbhakar-Fox, A (Dr Anita Parbhakar-Fox)
ID Code:109201
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:CODES ARC
Deposited On:2016-06-01
Last Modified:2016-06-02
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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