Direct and indirect bioleaching of cobalt from low grade laterite and pyritic ores by Aspergillus niger

Yuyi Yang, John Ferrier, Laszlo Csetenyi, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The bioleaching efficiency and mechanism of recovery of cobalt (Co) and nickel from laterites and pyritic ores by Aspergillus niger were investigated. Recoveries of Co from laterites and pyritic ores by direct bioleaching were 65.9 ± 1.8% and 4.9 ± 2.7%, respectively, while 30.9 ± 0.6% and 10.9 ± 6.2% recovery of Ni were obtained from laterites and pyritic ores, respectively. Recovery of Co via indirect bioleaching in the absence of the fungal biomass from laterite was significantly lower when compared with Co released by direct bioleaching. In the latter, hyphal penetration and colonization of the laterites were clearly observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) analysis of mineral phases before and after bioleaching indicated that cobalt-bearing goethite was the main phase bioleached in the laterites. No significant difference was found between Co recoveries from synthesized cobalt-bearing goethite by both direct and indirect bioleaching. Therefore, we propose that two processes are involved in bioleaching from laterites: (1) cobalt-bearing goethite was exposed via direct interactions between the fungus and the minerals and (2) cobalt-bearing goethite was dissolved by released metabolites of A. niger, such as organic acids. An incongruent pattern of Co and Fe bioleaching from the laterites was also a feature of the metal recovery process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-949
Number of pages10
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2019


  • Aspergillus niger
  • cobalt bioleaching
  • fungi
  • laterite
  • pyrite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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