Yoshiko Fujita at Idaho National Laboratory leads the CMI project "Biologically-Mediated Recovery of Tellurium from Mine Waste"
Project Description: To assess the potential for biologically-based approaches to recover tellurium from mine tailings. Biorecovery of Te may present a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative than conventional hydrometallurgy. Oxidative bioleaching is widely accepted for copper recovery, and we hypothesize that a similar approach can be applied for Te leaching. The first year of the project is aimed at establishing that microorganisms can facilitate Te solubilization. If successful, follow-on work would evaluate whether microorganisms can transform the leached Te species into nanoparticulate elemental and/or volatile Te forms, resulting in Te enrichment and facilitating its separation for further refinement.