Microbial community responses to cyanide in a biological treatment reactor for cyanide containing wastewater from gold processing plant

Doyun Shin, Hyunsik Park, Jae Chun Lee, Minseuk Kim, Jaeheon Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The appropriate treatment of cyanide waste water is becoming an emerging issue because of the toxic residue and large quantity produced from gold processing plants. In the present article, we designed and operated a continuous biological cyanide treatment system using domestic sewage sludge and various microorganisms including a cyanide-producing and degrading bacterium, Chromobacterium violaceum. The synthetic wastewater containing 50 mg/L of cyanide was pumped continuously into the reactor at a flow rate of 500 mL/d for 21 days. When 50 mg/L of cyanide was fed, the cyanide concentration in the effluent of the reactor inoculated with activated sludge (S-50) decreased by 7.5 mg/L in the effluent. The other reactors did not show significant cyanide degradation and the reactor inoculated with C. violaceum showed increased cyanide concentration in the effluent. The microbial community in the reactors was analyzed by 16S rRNA-gene based pyrosequencing technique to investigate microbial response to cyanide addition and operation time. The microbial community analysis shows that the phylum Proteobacteria was detected in the reactors showing significant cyanide degradation (S-50), while Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes was dominant in the other reactors with very low cyanide degradation. Proteobacteria could not compete when the other phyla Firmicutes or Bacteroidetes were inoculated. This study shows the feasibility of the biological cyanide treatment system for gold processing plants and contributes new fundamental knowledge about the microbial community in the biological cyanide treatment system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIMPC 2018 - 29th International Mineral Processing Congress
PublisherCanadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9787030227119
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event29th International Mineral Processing Congress, IMPC 2018 - Moscow, Russian Federation
Duration: Sep 17 2018Sep 21 2018


Other29th International Mineral Processing Congress, IMPC 2018
CountryRussian Federation


  • Biodegradation
  • Cyanide
  • Microbial community
  • Pyrosequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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