Harnessing tolerant microbes to drive mineral weathering and geochemical stabilization in mining wastes
Mining wastes such as tailings, are polymineral residues from extracting metals and minerals, which seemingly have no features to support life. However, a small group of extremely tolerant microbes can thrive in these harsh substrates, when specific types of organics and/or minerals are provided. These microbes can be harnessed to catalyse and accelerate mineral weathering and transformation, leading to stabilization of metal(loid)s and soil formation. This talk aims to illustrate the role of tolerant microbes in initiating mineral weathering and hydrogeochemical dynamics in Cu/Pb-Zn tailings and Fe-ore tailings. Our research findings have demonstrated that these microbes can be harnessed to accelerate pedogenesis in tailings into functional soil without pollution risks.