Lixiviant access creation in impermeable hard rock mass for the in-situ underground leaching of metals from ore
Total Grant Value
No commercial processes exist for the In-Situ Recovery (ISR) (also referred to as in-situ leaching or solution mining) of commodities such as copper, gold and nickel, due to the limitations for the application of ISR for recovery of these metals given the low permeability of the hard rock matrix that hosts the valuable minerals.
Lixiviant access to mineral particles must be provided to enable leaching of the values. Possible microscale fracture-creation methods including the use of cryogenic or supercooled fluids, such as liquid nitrogen, microwave fracturing and high-voltage fracturing will be investigated in this project.
Proposed Benefit to WA
Improved understanding of options for generating pathways for lixiviant contact with value minerals as the basis for in-situ value extraction from underground orebodies has the potential to unlock new resources and deliver environmental benefits.
Furthermore, the in-situ permeability measurement techniques that could be developed in this study may prove beneficial not only in ISR applications, but may also be useful and effective more widely in the mining sector.
Page was last reviewed 16 July 2020