News about Environmental Copper Recovery
April 2019 :- The University of Adelaide has now undertaken 2 surveys of magnetotellurics (MT) over an area of nearly 40 square kms.
Three weeks were spent leaving sensors in specific sites around the surrounding area of the mine. The aim was to ascertain whether this technique will help monitor groundwater flows in the area. As this was a positive outcome they will now extend the MT surveys to wider areas around the mine site in April.
MT is the measurement of electrical resistivity of electric and magnetic fields. All around the world there are approximately 200 lightening strikes every second of every day, hitting the earth, which is a natural filter. These occur predominantly around the equatorial areas which have higher temperature and humidity differentials but radiate out to the north and south poles. MT measures these naturally occurring electrical and magnetic currents giving us information on various elements in the earth, e.g. water.
Accurate 3D modelling of the underground geology coupled with this new knowledge of groundwater flows is an essential step in the environmental assessment and monitoring process. This information will also show where and how the solutions will come into contact with, and hence extract the copper.
March 2019:- CSIRO Land & Water undertook seasonal soil and water sampling from the the Light River in December and March, to ascertain environmental baselines. They will be looking for any contaminants in the soil and water like copper, salt, phosphates etc. These Run of River surveys will be repeated seasonally.
The Light River never runs completely dry with a number of pools along its course. Why is this? CSIRO are able to assess and count the number of springs by ageing the water. The use of radon is a very good indicator of where springs enter the river system. Radon is used to measure where springs are. There are high levels of radon naturally in the groundwater. When the groundwater enters the river so does the radon but being a gas it evaporates into the atmosphere. So therefore the further you go down stream the less radon is present.
The higher the level of radon means closer you are to the spring source.
February 2019:- CSIRO Minerals Division in Perth are undertaking ongoing testing of existing core samples for the most effective benign solution to extract the copper. So far this is proving very positive showing that copper leaches quickly and effectively into solution with a range of lixiviants (depending on the pH which varies at the mine site) including just with water. Recent tests have also shown that gold from the site leaches into solution, just how much gold is there is yet to be proven in the next research stages.
Why is copper so important now? Copper has been around forever, is recyclable and now an integral part of delivering environmentally sustainable energy to help reduce future green house emmisions by playing a large part in renewable technolgy,
"Renewable energy generation technologies, especially wind, ocean and solar installations, are copper-intensive and the important role of energy efficiency in the energy transition will also have an impact on copper use." European Copper Institute
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