Bioleaching can be one of few techniques applicable for the removal of toxic metals from polluted soils or sediments. Its principle is a microbial production of sulphuric acid and leaching of metals with it. The use of bioleaching can benefit from the use of low-cost substrates and from a possible coupling to other processes of microbial sulphur cycle, like sulphate reduction to treat spent bioleaching liquor, or partial sulphide oxidation to recycle sulphur. For the evaluation of bioleaching, the existence of different leaching strategies is considered, i.e. intensive or extensive extraction. The intensive extraction uses high concentrations of acid at short extraction times, whereas low acid additions and long treatment times are used in extensive processes. On a reference study with wetland sediment receiving mine drainage we demonstrated that the bioleaching is a typical extensive process. The bioleaching experiments involved the use of the different sulphur substrates, i.e. orthorhombic sulphur flower and microbially produced, recycled sulphur from partial sulphide oxidation process. The latter type of sulphur substrate performed considerably better.

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