What is InSitu Recovery Mining?

Metals (Copper, Gold etc) are recovered ‘In Situ’ by firstly dissolving the commodity in place and then extracting it using a system of injection and extraction bores or wells.

Most times ISR accelerates what is already happening naturally within the bedrock and water table.

ISR is the same technology used in the remediation of contaminated sites where it is called “pump and treat”.

The technology has been used in the mining industry for Phosphate and Uranium extraction since the  1960s and most recently in the environmental industry.

  “A New application of existing technology”

 

  • ISR is a closed loop system where fluids are pumped through an orebody via a series of injection and extraction wells. This fluid is introduced into the mineral bearing strata via an injection well to dissolve the metal.
  • The “pregnant” leached solution is then extracted back out through another bore or extraction well and piped via the Well House to a Processing Plant to be processed (often using Ion Exchange technology). The processed commodity is then sold to market.
  • This closed loop series of water bores is called a pattern and usually contains 4 - 5 injector bores at each corner with 1 production well in the centre. These wells are connected by a grid of pipes, that can be laid underground if required, and on average cover a small area of about 2 tennis courts.
  • A ring of monitor bores are installed around the area to be processed to keep track of the lixiviant flow and monitor water table levels.

 

The extraction rate, of metals like copper via this system, depends largely on the grade of the deposit and the flow parameters of the orebody. The flow parameters are dictated by the permeability and porosity of the ore body and the overall flow rates can be varied by operating more or less patterns. 

ISR uses minimal infrastructure, efficiently removed at the end of mine processing and with the added benefit of environmentally friendly lixiviants, means ISR is a very low profile extraction technique leaving relatively little environmental footprint.

 

See Excelsior Mining's Sandbox demonstration of InSitu Recovery up close.

 

See below the ISR Extraction Process:

More about Environmental Copper Recovery