Rare earth elements (REEs) are critical raw materials and are attracting interest because of their applications in novel technologies and green economy. Biohydrometallurgy has been used to extract other base metals; however, bioleaching studies of REE mineral extraction from mineral ores and wastes are yet in their infancy. Mineral ores have been treated with a variety of microorganisms. Phosphate-solubilizing microorganims are particularly relevant in the bioleaching of monazite because transform insoluble phosphate into more soluble form which directly and/or indirectly contributes to their metabolism. The increase of wastes containing REEs turns them into an important alternative source. The application of bioleaching techniques to the treatment of solid wastes might contribute to the conversion towards a more sustainable and environmental friendly economy minimizing the amount of tailings or residues that exert a harmful impact on the environment.
Part of the book: Heavy Metals