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Keywords:

  • Bioleaching process;
  • Fungal biomass;
  • Metal ions;
  • Sorption isotherm;
  • Wastewater treatment

Abstract

Leachate derived from bioleaching process contains high amount of metals that must be removed before discharging the water. Aspergillus fumigatus was isolated from a gold mine tailings and its ability to remove of As, Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn from aqueous solutions and leachate of bioleaching processes was assessed. Batch sorption experiments were carried out to characterize the capability of fungal biomass (FB) and iron coated fungal biomass (ICFB) to remove metal ions in single and multi-solute systems. The maximum sorption capacity of FB for As(III), As(V), Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn were 11.2, 8.57, 94.33, 53.47, 43.66, and 70.4 mg/g, respectively, at pH 6. For ICFB, these values were 88.5, 81.3, 98.03, 66.2, 50.25, and 74.07 mg/g. Results showed that only ICFB was found to be more effective in removing metal ions from the leachate. The amount of adsorbed metals from the leachate was 2.88, 21.20, 1.91, 0.1, and 0.08 mg/g for As, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Pb, respectively. The FT-IR analysis showed involvement of the functional groups of the FB in the metal ions sorption. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that surface morphological changed following metal ions adsorption. The study showed that the indigenous fungus A. fumigatus was able to remove As, Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn from the leachate of gold mine tailings and therefore the potential for removing metal ions from metal-bearing leachate.