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Effect of microorganisms on in situ uranium mining.
Yates-MV; Brierley-JA; Brierley-CL; Follin-SE
Appl Environ Microbiol 1983 Oct; 46(4):779-784
The extraction of some metal values, e.g., uranium or copper, may be accomplished by using solutions to remove metals from ore bodies without practicing conventional mining. This process is referred to as in situ leaching and has been used industrially to recover uranium. The growth of microbial populations during in situ leaching is believed to be one of the causes of flow path plugging in the ore body, which results in decreased uranium production. Leach solution and solid samples from well casings and submersible pumps were collected from an in situ mining operations experiencing plugging problems. Bacillus sp., Micrococcus sp., Pseudomonads, and xanthomonads were isolated from these samples on concentrations of 105 colony-forming units per milliliter. A mixed culture of these organisms was inoculated into a uranium core specimen in the laboratory to assess the role of microbes in the plugging problem. A one-third decrease in permeability was effected in 16 days. Hydrogen peroxide killed the microorganisms in the core and alleviated the plugging problems. Periodically injecting hydrogen peroxide into the ore body through the production wells may reduce microbial plugging problems.
OP; Journal Article
Issue of Publication
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
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