The geomicrobiology of mining environments

Talitha Santini, Emma Gagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As the global population increases, so does the demand for minerals and energy resources. Demand for some of the major global commodities is currently growing at rates of: copper - 1.6% p.a.(1); iron ore: 1.4% p.a.(2); aluminium - 5% p.a.(3); rare earth elements - 7% p.a.(4), driven not only by population growth in China, India, and Africa, but also by increasing urbanisation and industrialisation globally. Technological advances in renewable energy production and storage, construction materials, transport, and computing could see demand for some of these resources spike by 2600% over the next 25 years under the most extreme demand scenarios(5). Coupled with declining ore grades, this demand means that the global extent of mining environments is set to increase dramatically. Land disturbance attributed to mining was estimated to be 400 000 km(2) in 2007(6), with projected rates of increase of 10 000 km(2) per year(7). This will increase the worldwide extent of mining environments from around 500 000 km(2) at present to 1 330 000 km(2) by 2100, larger than the combined land area of New South Wales and Victoria (1 050 000 km(2)), making them a globally important habitat for the hardiest of microbial life. The extreme geochemical and physical conditions prevalent in mining environments present great opportunities for discovery of novel microbial species and functions, as well as exciting challenges for microbiologists to apply their understanding to solve complex remediation problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-41
JournalMicrobiology Australia
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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Renewable Energy
Urbanization
New South Wales
Victoria
Population Growth
Aluminum
Minerals
Ecosystem
Copper
India
China
Iron
Population
Industrial Development

Cite this

Santini, Talitha ; Gagen, Emma. / The geomicrobiology of mining environments. In: Microbiology Australia. 2018 ; Vol. 39, No. 1. pp. 31-41.
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The geomicrobiology of mining environments. / Santini, Talitha; Gagen, Emma.

In: Microbiology Australia, Vol. 39, No. 1, 03.2018, p. 31-41.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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