Hydrologic Considerations of Underground in Situ Copper Leaching.
Schmidt RD; Behnke KC; Friedel MJ
SME Preprint 90-179 1990 :12 pages
The Cyprus Casa Grande Corp. has provided Bureau of Mines researchers with an opportunity to investigate the hydrology of leaching an in place copper ore deposit. Hydrologic investigations of underground in situ copper leaching are being jointly conducted under a cooperative agreement. The hydrologic concerns of leaching operations at the Casa Grande Mine focus on maintaining adequate solution injection and recovery rates, and on distributing the injected leach solution effectively within the ore deposit. Hydrologic considerations underlying these concerns relate to the permeability of the oxide ore zone during leaching, the unsaturated condition of the deposit prior to leaching, and the constraints imposed on in situ hydrologic design by the underground mine setting. The investigation involves monitoring of flow and pressure conditions in 58 injection and recovery wells, estimating permeability conditions using a hydrologic model, and on-site testing of hydrodilation and airlift pumping. Transient, fracture- controlled permeability is determined to be the dominant hydrologic consideration. A statistical modeling procedure has been developed for estimating changes in permeability during leaching. Flexibility in well design and operation is essential for accommodating the changes in fracture permeability that occur during leaching.
SME Preprint 90-179, 1990, 12 PP.