The effect of anaerobic processes on the leachability of an arsenopyrite refractory ore

A. Hol, R.D. van der Weijden, G. van Weert, P. Kondos, C.J.N. Buisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Gold is commonly liberated from sulfide minerals via oxidative destruction techniques. To circumvent the formation of sulfuric acid and to reduce the amount of energy required for these processes two alternative anaerobic processes based on sulfate reducing bacteria are investigated for arsenopyrite in this study. The first alternative, “bio-reduction” is expected to alter the structure of arsenopyrite via reduction of the mineral-sulfur to hydrogen sulfide, yielding a sulfur depleted residue that probably contains the gold. The second alternative “anaerobic oxidation” focuses on the mineral-arsenic which under anaerobic conditions can be oxidized to arsenite and subsequently precipitates as orpiment, which may contain the gold. Both alternatives were investigated with gas lift loop reactor experiments performed at pH 5 and 35 °C. These experiments showed that sulfate reducers were able to reduce sulfate from the reactor fluid, but that they were not able to use arsenopyrite as an electron acceptor (bio-reduction) or donor (anaerobic oxidation) under the selected conditions. As a result the gold leachability of the ore concentrate was not improved. To make the mineral more accessible for the leach solution the solubilization of lattice constituents from arsenopyrite that can be biologically reduced/anaerobically oxidized, should be stimulated. In addition, the concentration of arsenite needs to be limited to preserve the activity of sulfate reducing bacteria
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-540
JournalMinerals Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • arsenic speciation
  • oxidation
  • pyrite
  • gold
  • dissolution
  • reduction
  • minerals
  • sb2s3
  • as2s3


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