Bioleaching of a low grade chalcopyrite (ball mill spillage material) was tested for copper recovery in shake flasks. The original samples (as received) were thermally activated (600A degrees C, 30 min) to notice the change in physico-chemical and mineralogical characteristics of the host rock and subsequently its effect on copper recovery. A mixed culture of acidophilic chemolithotrophic bacterial consortium predominantly entailing Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strain was used for bioleaching studies and optimization of process parameters of both original and thermally activated samples. Mineralogical characterization studies indicated the presence of chalcopyrite, pyrite in the silicate matrix of the granitic rock. Field emission scanning electron microscopy coupled with Energy dispersive spectroscopy (FESEM-EDS) and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis indicated mostly SiO2. With pH 2, pulp density 10% w/v, inoculum 10% v/v, temperature 30A degrees C, 150 r center dot min(-1), 49% copper could be recovered in 30 days from the finest particle size (-1 + 0.75 mm) of the original spillage sample. Under similar conditions 95% copper could be recovered from the thermally activated sample with the same size fraction in 10 days. The study revealed that thermal activation leads to volume expansion in the rock with the development of cracks, micro and macro pores on its surface, thereby enabling bacterial solution to penetrate more easily into the body, facilitating enhanced copper dissolution.