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(Kitco News) ̵
The discovery published last week in the Nature Communications journal could play a key role for miners trying to locate new massive gold deposits that hide underground, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (GEOM) microbiologist , Tsing Bohu.
"We show that fungi, a major driver of mineral bio-weathering, under conditions of the earth's surface can trigger gold oxidation, which is important for the formation of dissolved gold species and proliferation," the report says.
The trunk of the Fusarium oxysporum fungus, which looks like a fluffy pink organism that surrounds itself with gold. Nanoparticles were found in Boddington, Western Australia, about 80 miles southeast of Perth.
"Mushrooms can oxidize tiny gold particles and precipitate them on their strands – this cycle process can contribute to how gold and other elements are distributed on the earth's surface," Bohu said.
The researchers made the discovery as they experimented with microbes found in the gold-rich soil of Western Australia.
What makes this mushroom unique is its ability to dissolve gold through the production of a chemical known as superoxide. After dissolution of the metal, the fungus can restore the absorbed metal to solid form, the report highlights.
"We have observed the precipitation of gold on the surface of the fungus," Bohu explained. "Gold is so chemically inert that this interaction is both unusual and surprising – it had to be seen to be believed."
Courtesy of CSIRO: Colored Image of Gold-plated Fusarium oxsporum Mushrooms
The research team will continue reading how the fungus can interact with gold and whether its presence suggests greater gold deposits below the surface.
"We want to understand if the fungus we study can be used … The combination with these exploration tools should help the industry tap into potential areas," said Ravi Anand, Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO. However, gold seekers should look for new gold deposits based on the location of the fungus, as it can only be seen under a microscope
In both cases, the news could be of great importance to Australia – the world's second-largest gold producer, especially as the country's gold output is high. S & P's Global Market Intelligence report, published in April, reports a decline in the expected next five years.
It is estimated that the mining nation will take fourth place by 2024, followed by Canada and Russia.
"Australia's production is expected to decline the most. It is expected that the second largest gold production nation after China will fall in fourth place worldwide in 2024, "said Christopher Galbraith, an analyst at S & P Global Market Intelligence.
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