The immobilization of gold from gold (III) chloride by a halophilic sulphate-reducing bacterial consortium
Jeremiah Shuster, Sian Marsden, Lachlan C. W. Maclean, James Ball, Trudy Bolin, Gordon Southam, 2015. "The immobilization of gold from gold (III) chloride by a halophilic sulphate-reducing bacterial consortium", Ore Deposits in an Evolving Earth, G. R. T. Jenkin, P. A. J. Lusty, I. Mcdonald, M. P. Smith, A. J. Boyce, J. J. Wilkinson
Download citation file:
A consortium containing halophilic, dissimilatory sulphate-reducing bacteria was enriched from Basque Lake #1, located near Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada to evaluate the role these bacteria have on the immobilization of soluble gold. The consortium immobilized increasing amounts of gold from gold (III) chloride solutions, under saline to hypersaline conditions, over time. Gold (III) chloride was reduced to elemental gold in all experimental systems. Salinity did not affect gold immobilization. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that reduced gold (III) chloride was immobilized as c. 3–10 nm gold colloids and c. 100 nm colloidal aggregates at the fluid–biofilm interface. The precipitation of gold at this organic interface protected cells within the biofilm from the ‘toxic effect’ of ionic gold. Analysis of these experimental systems using X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy confirmed that elemental gold with varying colloidal sizes formed within minutes. The immobilization of gold by halophilic sulphate-reducing bacteria highlights a possible role for the biosphere in ‘intercepting’ mobile gold complexes within natural, hydraulic flow paths. Based on the limited toxicity demonstrated in this experimental model, significant concentrations of elemental gold could accumulate over geological time in natural systems where soluble gold concentrations are more dilute and presumably ‘non-toxic’ to the biosphere.
Figures & Tables
Ore deposits form by a variety of natural processes that concentrate elements into a volume that can be economically mined. Their type, character and abundance reflect the environment in which they formed and thus they preserve key evidence for the evolution of magmatic and tectonic processes, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the evolution of life over geological time. This volume presents 13 papers on topical subjects in ore deposit research viewed in the context of Earth evolution. These diverse, yet interlinked, papers cover topics including: controls on the temporal and spatial distribution of ore deposits; the sources of fluid, gold and other components of orogenic gold deposits; the degree of oxygenation in the Neoproterozoic ocean; bacterial immobilization of gold in the semi-arid near-surface environment; and mineral resources for the future, including issues of resource estimation, sustainability of supply and the criticality of certain elements to society.