Beginnings of rational bioleaching and highlights in the development of biohydrometallurgy: A brief history

H.L. Ehrlich*

Department of Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590 USA

Received 4 December 2003; accepted 15 January 2004


The origin of a rational (scientific) approach to extraction of metal values from ores with the aid of microorganisms (bioleaching) is traced. The removal by microbiological means of ore constituents that interfere with metal extraction (biobeneficiation), an outgrowth from bioleaching, is also traced.

Keywords: Bioleaching; Biobeneficiation; Metal sulfide ores; Acid mine drainage; Acidophilic iron-oxidizing autotrophs

* Corresponding author
   E-mail : ehrlih@rpi.edu