Vale developing “copper eating” bacteria

Mining giant Vale has teamed up with the University of São Paulo to identify "copper eating" bacteria that can help mine mineral waste.

Worldcrunch reports the bacteria and fungi could lead to higher copper recovery from tailing dams, and could ultimately bring in an extra $1.4 billion for the company.

The project is currently being tested in northern Brazil but is still far away from being economically viable.

Nevertheless Vale copper director Eugênio Victorasso said if the technology could be proven it would be a game changer for the industry.

"This would be a revolutionary technology for the mining world. We would have a much higher copper recovery rate than today," he said.

Whilst researchers are still working on identifying the best bacteria, the most important step in the project will be developing a process to extract the mineral from the organisms.

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