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CEMVITA BIOMINING plans to revolutionize and lower the carbon footprint of the mining industry by application of Synthetic Biology.

Cemvita’s Mining team works with companies to optimize existing bioprocesses and develop new methods in mineral processing and extractive metallurgy to lower the energy and carbon intensity of the mining industry and enable extraction of the minerals needed for the renewable energy future. Processes that can be augmented by synthetic biology apply across the entire mining supply chain including mining and mineral pre-processing, in-situ treatment, comminution, leaching, beneficiation and separation, rehabilitation and recycling.

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The Cemvita Biomining vertical started because the way we mine for the metals that humans need for everyday life, is too energy and land intensive.

Biotech can change the face of mining the same way its changed health and food….and we know so much less about microbes that live in rocks and minerals...the field is wild open.

MARNY Reakes

VP Mining Biotech


Increasing Metal Removal Capacity during Bioremediation

Microorganisms have been used for the removal of heavy metals from wastes since the early 1990s, however application of synthetic biology now allows us to take things to a whole new level.

infographic describing natural metallothionein

For this project, Cemvita Biomining developed an engineered microorganism to facilitate removing heavy metal from acid mine drainage. The engineered species successfully overexpressed metallothioneins (proteins involved with the absorption of heavy metals). As a result, compared to wild type, the engineered cyanobacteria removed Fe, Al, and Ni at much higher rates suggesting the potential of synthetic biology to enhance bioremediation.

As these selected microbes consume CO2 for their growth, this is a significant demonstration of carbon-negative bioremediation. We are currently performing the next phase of this project with the next steps being to determine the heavy metals removal by these engineered microorganisms at pilot scale in the field to assess the long term efficiency of bioremediation

Learn more about Cemvita Biomining:

Cleaning up Mine Sites with Carbon-Negative BioremediationUsing Microbes as Mining Equipment
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BHP hopes this technology will enable the discovery of new low cost, high volume treatment alternatives that provide an in-situ biosynthesis alternative solution, removing traditional treatment overheads, transportation cost, and more importantly, the perpetual management of legacy sites.

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