Reconciling Mineral Reserves at the Well-to-Well in Situ Copper Leaching Operation at San Manuel Mine, Arizona USA

Additonal authors: . 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

Sutton, G. A.

This paper, describes a case example from San Manuel mine, where in situ copper leaching of the supergene zone was done over a 14 year period (1986–1999) in conjunction with underground and open-pit mining operations of a copper porphyry deposit. In 1993–1994, testing of well fields was done to determine the amount of copper that would be recovered from in situ leaching of the supergene zone, which was composed primarily of chrysocolla and copper-clay minerals. It was determined that the leach fluid would reach 70% (‘sweep efficiency’) of the copper minerals and that 75% of them would be leached for a recovery of 52% of the acid soluble copper. However, the final results from Zone 6, which had the longest leach history, showed that approximately 42% of the acid soluble copper was recovered, indicating that the `sweep efficiency’ was closer to 55%. Comparison of drill-core assay data from two holes, one drilled before (ARM158) and the other after (SMO9607) leaching, also indicate that approximately 42% of the acid soluble copper was recovered. The discrepancy between the predicted (52%) and actual (42%) recovery is probably related to a combination of factors, including difficulty in maintaining fluid saturation, channeling effects and gypsum precipitation. INTRODUCTION In situ copper leaching at the San Manuel mine, Arizona, was initiated in 1986. It was recognized that some of the copper oxide resource was not going to be economically recoverable by conventional open pit and heap leach methods using solvent extraction and electrowinning (SXEW). A high stripping ratio would be required to access part of the resource. At the time, in situ leaching was becoming popular in the uranium industry but the approach was virtually unknown in the copper industry, especially not at a large scale.
Mots Clés: Copper 2019, COM2019
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