Role of indigenous microbes in the formation and conversion of bauxite minerals is illustrated. Many types of microorganisms such as fungi, heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria and yeasts inhabit bauxite ore deposits bringing about biogenesis and biomineraliztion. Organisms capable of iron oxidation and reduction and solubilising calcium carbonate and silica can be isolated from bauxite deposits and are used to bring about selective mineral beneficiation to remove iron, calcium and silica. Use of Paenibacillus polymyxa in the efficient removal of calcium from low grade bauxites is demonstrated through bioreactor technology. Similarly, for iron removal from bauxite, iron-reducing bacteria can be used. Silicate bacteria aid in selective silica solubilisation to control alumina: silica ratios. Microorganisms can also be used to bring about environmental control with respect to red mud disposal through bioremediation technology.
The author thanks the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), Allahabad for Platinum Jubilee Senior Scientist Fellowship to the author (Prof. K. A. Natarajan). Thanks are also due to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, New Delhi for a financial grant.