Application of Advanced Directional Drilling and Artificial Permeability Creation for In-Situ Recovery of Minerals

Additonal authors: Krawchuk, P. L.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Brown, K. R.

In-situ recovery (ISR) is under increased investigation as a viable methodology for the extraction of minerals in ore bodies that may be uneconomic to mine by traditional methods or for resources situated in locations where underground and surface mining operations are not feasible. Although the concept of ISR is relatively new with respect to hard rock applications, it is not a new technology; it has been used successfully in potash and uranium mining and also in heavy oil extraction for years where it has been proven to be both technically and commercially viable. ISR allows for the extraction of metals and minerals without the need to mine large amounts of ore that need to be processed at surface. The ore stays in-situ and only the valuable metals and minerals are produced to surface in a process that produces very little to no waste rock or tailings. This paper aims to discuss the geological conditions that make ISR amenable to an ore body as well as the application of maturing technologies such as advanced directional drilling and the creation of artificial permeability that will help to access deep ore bodies and enhance or create favorable recovery conditions for ISR in the ore body. INTRODUCTION In-situ recovery (ISR), also referred to as in-situ leaching, is a potentially disruptive technology for the mining industry. ISR is under increased investigation as a viable methodology for the extraction of valuable minerals that may be uneconomic to mine by traditional methods or for deposits situated in locations where underground and surface mining operations are not feasible. Although the concept of ISR is relatively new with respect to hard rock applications, it is not a new technology; it has been used successfully in potash mining, uranium mining and also in heavy oil extraction for years where it has been proven to be both technically and commercially viable. Recently there has been increased interest in deploying ISR in hard rock applications due to a number of factors: the drive for environmental stewardship is stronger than ever, technological advances in drilling, blasting, and leaching are strengthening ISR economics, and a large inventory of ore bodies exists that are not feasible to mine or extract using conventional open pit or underground mining techniques. ISR allows for the extraction of valuable metals and minerals without the need to mine large amounts of ore that need to be processed at surface. The ore stays in-situ and only the valuable metals and minerals are produced to surface in solution via a recovery process that produces very little to no waste rock or tailings. Where the right conditions exist, the ISR process has a much smaller environmental footprint (Hiam-Galvez, 2018) and potentially much lower capital and operating costs than using conventional mining techniques.
Mots Clés: Copper 2019, COM2019
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