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  • Old Testament, red and green organisms [fungi? lichens?] on the walls of houses create pits and cavities.
  • 23 - 79 A.D. Roman writer Gaius Plinius Secundus, how copper minerals are obtained using a leaching process. [1] "chrysocolla is also artificially produced by slowly passing water through the mine during the winter until the month of June; subsequently, the water is evaporated in June and July.''
  • 166 A.D. The scientist Galen described "in-situ"-leaching in an old, cypriotic mine. [2]
  • Sometime in between 1480-1539. Heap leaching in order to extract FeSO4 was first described in De Pirotechnica by the italian metallurg V. Biringguccio (1480-1539). [3]
  • 1494 - 1555. Georgius Agricola, techniques for copper winning based on the leaching of copper-containing ores. [4] Agricola also described roasting of pyrite to prepare for leaching and produce FeSO4.
  • 1572, Industrial heap leaching of copper-sulfides in Rio Tinto, Spain. Roasting of copper- and iron-sulfides, then leaching. [5]
  • 1878, ban of open air ore roasting and its resulting atmospheric sulfur emissions in hydrometallurgical metal extraction has been taken into consideration in other countries more intensely.
  • Heap leaching techniques were assumed to reduce transportation costs and to allow the employment of locomotives and wagons for other services [6].
  • Earlier 1890ies, efforts to establish bioleaching to the Rio Tinto mines. Heaps of low-grade ore, left for one to three years for "natural" decomposition [7]. The heap leaching in the Rio Tinto mines continued successfully until the 1970ies. The reason for the successful process was said to depend on some mystic characteristic of the Rio Tinto ore or on the spanish climate. [8]
  • 1900, no open air roasting of low-grade ore was conducted at Rio Tinto mine.
  • 1922, oxidation of metal sulfides was reported [9] [10].
  • 1940 it was estimated that million of tons of sulfuric acid was discharged into the Ohio river because of the unvolontary leaching of sulfides in carbon (which was obtained from the carbon mines in Pennsylvania.) Investigations in order to solve the problem. [11]
  • 1947, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans was identified as part of the microbial community found in acid mine drainage [12].
  • 1950s Leach-dumps (precessor of leach-heaps) [13]
  • 1958, a first patent was granted [14], cyclic process where a ferric sulfate sulfuric acid lixiviant solution is used for metal extraction, regenerated by aeration (ferrous iron oxidation by iron oxidizing organisms), and re-used in a next leaching stage.
  • 1961, Thiobacillus ferrooxidans (reclassified as Acidithiobacillus) was identified in the leachates.
  • 1965 Discovery of the first iron- and sulfuroxidizing archaea - Acidianus Brierleyi - from an acidic, thermal spring in Yellowstone National Park (USA) [15]
  • 1977 The first international biohydrometallurgy meeting [16]
  • 1995 Bioleaching of chalcopyrite concentrate was developed and evaluated at the commercial scale [17]
  • 2000 Commercial scale applications with archaea [18]
  • 2003 Demonstration of potential commercial applications - the [[BioCopTM]] process by BHP Billiton employed acidophilic, iron-oxidizing archaea for bioleaching of chalcopyrite concentrates in aerated stirred tanks [19]

References

  1. Plinius G. secundus. Naturalis historiae libri XXXVII [on-line access under http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/ Roman/Texts/Pliny_the_Elder/home.html]
  2. Brombacher C., Bachofen R., Brandl H. (1997) Biohydrometallurgical processing of solids: a patent review. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology 48:577-587
  3. Biometech, Studie avseende Bio & Hydrometallurgiskt center, 2002.
  4. Agricola G (1556) De re metallica libri XII. Froben, Basle, Switzerland [on-line access under http://libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/elib/]
  5. Biometech, Studie avseende Bio & Hydrometallurgiskt center, 2002.
  6. Salkield L.U. (1987) A technical history of the Rio Tinto mines: some notes on exploitation from pre-Phoenician times to the 1950s. Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, London, UK
  7. Salkield L.U. (1987) A technical history of the Rio Tinto mines: some notes on exploitation from pre-Phoenician times to the 1950s. Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, London, UK
  8. Biometech, Studie avseende Bio & Hydrometallurgiskt center, 2002.
  9. Rudolfs W. (1922) Oxidation of iron pyrites by sulfur-oxidizing organisms and their use for making mineral phosphates available. Soil Science 14:135-147
  10. Rudolfs W., Helbronner A. (1922) Oxidation of zinc sulfide by microörganisms. Soil Science 14:459 - 464
  11. Biometech, Studie avseende Bio & Hydrometallurgiskt center, 2002.
  12. Colmer A.R., Hinkle M.E. (1947) The role of microoganisms in acid mine drainage. Science 106:253 - 256
  13. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspective, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
  14. Zimmerley S.R., Wilson D.G., Prater J.D. (1958) US Patent 2,829,964
  15. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspective, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
  16. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspectaive, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
  17. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspective, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
  18. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspective, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
  19. Brierley, J. A., Biohydrometallurgy - This Microbiologist's Perspective, Biohydrometallurgy Symposium 2007
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