Phytomining of rare and valuable metals

Luís A.B. Novo*, Paula M.L. Castro, Paula Alvarenga, Eduardo Ferreira da Silva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The exponential growth of low-grade mining ores and metal-polluted soils around the world during the last decades is expected to continue at a higher rate in the foreseeable future. Yet, the strategic and commercial importance of some elements found in those sub-economic ores and soils, their elevated market prices, and the corresponding environmental concerns have opened a window of opportunity for phytomining. This phytoextraction-based technology uses the ability of certain plants to uptake valuable metals, producing a bio-ore from the harvested biomass that allows metal recovery through smelting. Once applied at large scale, phytomining may either function as a standalone operation to retrieve the desired element or jointly with phytoremediation, financing the costs of the latter. This chapter reviews the advances of phytomining since its inception in the 1990s, focusing on the results obtained to date, with gold, nickel, thallium, and rhenium.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhytoremediation
Subtitle of host publicationManagement of Environmental Contaminants, Volume 5
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319523811
ISBN (Print)9783319523798
Publication statusFirst published - 30 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gold
  • Hyperaccumulation
  • Nickel
  • Phytoextraction
  • Phytoremediation
  • Rhenium
  • Thallium


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