Microbial destruction of cyanide wastes in gold mining: process review

Akcil A. U. , MUDDER T.

BIOTECHNOLOGY LETTERS, vol.25, no.6, pp.445-450, 2003 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1023/a:1022608213814
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.445-450
  • Süleyman Demirel University Affiliated: Yes


Microbial destruction of cyanide and its related compounds is one of the most important biotechnologies to emerge in the last two decades for treating process and tailings solutions at precious metals mining operations. Hundreds of plant and microbial species (bacteria, fungi and algae) can detoxify cyanide quickly to environmentally acceptable levels and into less harmful by-products. Full-scale bacterial processes have been used effectively for many years in commercial applications in North America. Several species of bacteria can convert cyanide under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions using it as a primary source of nitrogen and carbon. Other organisms are capable of oxidizing the cyanide related compounds of thiocyanate and ammonia under varying conditions of pH, temperature, nutrient levels, oxygen, and metal concentrations. This paper presents an overview of the destruction of cyanide in mining related solutions by microbial processes.