Application of bioleaching to copper mining in Chile
Background: Bioleaching of minerals is a process that allows the treatment of insoluble sulphides and insoluble oxides via hydrometallurgy, as opposed to the more traditional technology of pyrometallurgy. Bioleaching presents several technological, environmental and economic advantages as compared with pyrometallurgy, as well as some limitations. Results: In this work a general panorama of copper mining and biomining, the influence of the most relevant operating variables and their present and future situation in Chile are presented and discussed. Conclusions: Today, Chile plays an important role in the development and commercial application of bioleaching to copper ores. This background information allows predicting a brilliant future for this technology in Chile, as has been forecasted in the last years.