COPPERBELT UNIVERSITY DISCOVERS AN INDIGENOUS BACTERIA TO LOWER MINERALS PRODUCTION COST
The Copperbelt University has identified an indigenous bacteria, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strain DJN1 2021, which is capable of extracting mineral ores with low copper metal content at a relatively lower production cost.
The Bacteria discovered by a post graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree (M.Phil) in Chemical Engineering Davis John Nangali in collaboration with the Dean School of Mines and Mineral Sciences Professor John Siame was identified through the method of extracting mineral ores with low copper metal content at a relatively lower production cost using Bioleaching technology.
Professor Siame and Nangali devised the project to address issues leading to increase in production costs in mining such as the decline of mineral ore-quality. During the investigations, the team successfully developed a method of extracting valuable metals from mineral processing waste through the natural phenomena called Bioleaching.
Normally, in the process of extracting metals from underground deposits, many are left behind as the remaining elements are not valuable enough to extract, this is known as low-grade ore processing. To extract valuable metals from mineral processing waste, scientists began to study a natural phenomenon which is Bioleaching.
The Bioleaching process has moved beyond research and now being used in the mining industry. The process produces 5% of all Gold and 25% of all Copper extracted today and research is still underway on applying this method to other metal-containing waste.
The mining sector is one of the major drivers of economic development through provision of foreign direct investment and formal employment however, the industry is faced by numerous challenges such as the decline of mineral ore-quality resulting in high production costs. The discovery of this Bacteria brings a positive impact on the mining sector and paves way for the design of a pilot-scale bioleaching plant for use on a larger scale.
This is the success story of Davis John Nangali a Tanzanian national pursuing a Master’s degree (M.Phil) in Chemical Engineering under the Copperbelt University Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining (CBU-ACESM).