Harnessing Soudan Mine Microbes: Bioremediation, Bioenergy and Biocontrol

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
U of MN
Recipient Type
Public College/University
Start Date
July 2013
End Date
June 2016
Counties Affected
Project Overview

The Soudan Iron Mine near Ely, Minnesota is no longer an active mine and is now part of a state park, as well as the home to a state-of-the-art physics laboratory at the bottom of the mine. The mine has also been discovered to contain an extreme environment in the form of an ancient and very salty brine bubbling up from a half-mile below the Earth’s surface through holes drilled when the mine was active. Strange microorganisms – part of an ecosystem never before characterized by science – have been found living in the brine. Scientists from the University of Minnesota will use this appropriation to continue to study this unique ecosystem and its organisms and build upon findings from a previous Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund supported effort to explore potential applications of using the microorganisms living there for removing metals from mine waters, producing biofuels, and developing a biocontrol for White-Nose Syndrome, which is decimating bat populations around the country.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chp. 52, Sec. 2, Subd. 03f
Appropriation Language

$838,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to continue the characterization of unique microbes discovered in the Soudan Underground Mine State Park that have potential applications for metal remediation in water resources, microbial electrofuels, and biocontrol of white-nose bat syndrome. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

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Measurable Outcome(s)

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Description of Funds
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
U of MN
Street Address
312 Church St SE, 4-130 Nils Hasselmo Hall
Zip Code
(612) 626-3698
Administered By
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