The increased need for new Rare Earth Element (REE) resources, to meet the growing demand from new "green" technologies, particularly heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREEs), and efficient resource processing has stimulated much research in recent years. Microbes can play a role in the accumulation, mobilisation and fractionation of REEs and other metals. However, this role is not fully understood in relation to the REE exploitation life-cycle - specifically, bioleaching, biosorption and biomineralisation of REEs in the context of:
- REE recovery from low grade ores; and
- the impact of REE release (together with other elements harmful to health) during mining on the environment and on human health.
The aim of the proposed work is to address these key knowledge gaps and develop a research strategy. This will build a mechanistic understanding of the critical bio-geochemical controls on REE behaviours and fractionation at low temperatures, from atomic- to field- scale, and provide process quantification through mathematical modelling.
Click on the image below to open a short overview presentation on the project's technical goals and the project consortium.
MM-FREE - Mineral-Microbe Interactions for Concentration of Rare Earth Elements
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