Phytomining is the extraction of metals with the help of plants. In contrast to phytoextraction, this process only refers to metals. These metals can be recovered from combustion residues, for example. So far, this process is only suitable for reducing the costs of phytoremediation (or phytoremediation) somewhat by recovering the extracted metals. However, research is being conducted - for example on the model plant Haller's cress - into using phytomining for ore mining as well - for the extraction of rare earths, for example.
Phytomining is the production of metal 'yields' by growing plants with high biomass that accumulate high concentrations of metals. Some of these plants are natural hyperaccumulators and others may have this property induced. Ground-breaking experiments in this field could lead to a green alternative to the current environmentally destructive methods of open-pit mining. Phyto-mining of a range of metals is a real possibility with the additional potential to exploit orebodies that are not economically viable to be mined using conventional methods.
Phytomining of Gold
Gold phytomining involves extracting gold from soil substrates by harvesting specially selected hyperaccumulative plants. Phytomining has the potential to economically exploit low-grade ores or mineralised soils that are too poor for conventional metal mining. Gold is the most promising option for phytomining, as its market value is constantly increasing. This article discusses various aspects of phytomining for gold, the mechanism of gold absorption, economic analysis and methodology to extract gold from plant biomass. The prospects for the development of phytomining for gold are also discussed.
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