Metal-Eating Bacteria That Chomps A Nail in Three Days, Can Make Mining More Environmentally Friendly

By: | October 16th, 2021

Image courtesy:

Modern mines as well as abandoned mines are responsible for significant environmental pollution. Mine waste, acid mine drainage, and heavy metals seeping from these mines regularly contaminate waterways. According to EPA, nearly 2 billion pounds of toxic waste were dumped into western waterways in just 2017.

To deal with this, a Chilean scientist is testing metal-eating bacteria to make the metal mining more environmentally friendly.

A possible solution to help clean up the highly polluting mining industry

Chilean biotechnologist Nadac Reales has been carrying out tests with extremophiles, organisms that live in extreme environments. Her team has successfully demonstrated that an iron-oxidizing bacteria known as Leptospirillum can eat a nail in three days when it’s starving.

Nadac Reales hopes that the iron-oxidizing bacteria Leptospirillum could be used to clean up mining waste and provide a by-product that helps extract copper.

Chile is the leading copper producer in the world, copper accounts for up to 15 percent of the country’s GDP. Consequently, there is a lot of mining waste that pollutes the environment. Also, as the demand for copper is growing, there is a need to improve copper extraction techniques.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

More articles from Industry Tap...