Chris Bryan research page

Antonio M. Álvarez Valero

Working with mine wastes

Chris Bryan Research (2)

Research Group

Dr Chris Bryan - Lecturer

Biomining mine wastes

Dr Chris Bryan’s research focuses on how microbial populations (such as bacteria) can be used to recover polluting, but often valuable, metals from ores and mining wastes.

This project has a strong local focus: Cornwall not only has a rich and varied mining history but, at the time most mining wastes were deposited (predominantly the 18th and 19th centuries), mineral processing methods were very different.

The bacteria which naturally occur in mine wastes cause metals – arsenic, cadmium and lead, for example –  to leach out, creating significant pollution. Chris is currently examining this phenomenon within a few miles of the ESI, in what used to be Cornwall's mining heartland. His aim is twofold: to find out what concentrations of valuable metals these wastes contain; and to see if it’s possible to collect the wastes and use bacteria to leach out the metals in a controlled way, so the metals can be recovered and sold.

This twofold aim leads, if successful, to a similarly dual outcome: creating value from the recovered metals, and protecting the environment by reducing pollution.

Principal researchers