Scientists have presented bacteria that will help destroy metal waste without harming the environment. They will help large mining companies.

Chilean researchers have begun experimenting with metal-eating bacteria. They will help destroy metal waste that pollutes the environment, especially in countries where mining is involved. To do this, the researchers conducted experiments with extremophiles – organisms that live in extreme conditions.

“We realized that the mining industry needs dozens of methods of disposal, including metal,” the scientists noted. Some metals can be recycled in smelters, but others, such as truck bins that hold 50 tons of rock, cannot be recycled and are often dumped into the Atacama Desert.

In their study, the scientists experimented with the iron-oxidizing bacteria Leptospirillum.

These bacteria live in an acidic environment that is practically unaffected by the relatively high concentrations of most metals. At first, the bacteria took two months to destroy the nail. But while fasting, they had to adapt and find a way to feed themselves. After two years of testing, as a result, the rate at which the bacteria “ate” markedly increased: they began to devour a nail in just three days.

Large mining companies are already interested in the technology and can use it to improve large-scale mining of copper or other minerals while reducing environmental pollution. Researchers are confident that this will help reduce the amount of metal waste littering the landscape in mining regions.