Bioleaching (or biomining) is a generic term for a biotechnical solution used for processing of metal-containing ores and concentrates of metal-containing ores. To refine such (even low-grade) ores and concentrates the mining industry uses microorganisms natural ability to digest, absorb and change the quality of different metals and chemicals.
Compared to conventional metallurgy approaches bioleaching is becoming more and more popular as a cheaper, more reliable, more efficient, more safe and environmentally friendlier way to extract metals.
One of the earliest recordings of bioleaching comes from Cyprus, reported by Galen, a physician AD162, a Greek physician from Pergamum, in 162 A.D., is reported to have collected cuperiferous solutions from mine water from the mines of Skouriotissa and concentrated them by evaporation to form crystals of copper sulfate. Bioleaching currently accounts for an estimated 20 percent of the world's mined copper, and is in use at about 20 mines around the world.