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Project Overview

Project Number
M0488
Total Grant Value
$239,364
MRIWA Contribution
$100,500
Project Theme
Mining Technology
Project Period
2017 - 2020

The Challenge

Limited understanding of the performance of chemical recovery systems in real ore bodies has held back development of practical in-situ recovery (ISR) technology in mining.

Key Findings

Sulfate and salt solutions reacting with copper ores produce mineral precipitates which prevent the reactive fluids reaching the surface of the copper minerals, slowing reactions.

This behaviour prevents accurate prediction of ISR performance in real ore systems, where porosity of rocks and ability of chemical reactants to interact with the ore are critical.

The greatest recovery efficiency obtained in this study was delivered by a solution of ferric chloride and hydrochloric acid.

Benefit to WA

Western Australia is the world’s sixth-largest copper producer, with recent major discoveries and a wealth of exploration prospects adding to the future potential significance of this metal for the state.

By supporting practical and environmentally sensitive development of ISR technology, the findings of this research could prolong the operation of many existing copper mines in Western Australia or help convert currently sub-economic systems into commercial prospects, all while reducing the impact of mining on the landscape.


Keywords: in-situ recovery; fluid–rock interactions; deep ore bodies; chalcopyrite; bornite; reaction kinetics


Publications arising from the research

Hidalgo, T. 2020. Understanding fluid–rock interactions and lixiviant/oxidant behaviour for the in-situ recovery of metals from deep ore bodies. (Doctoral dissertation, Curtin University, Perth). https://espace.curtin.edu.au/handle/20.500.11937/81528 Open access article

Hidalgo, T., Kuhar, L., Beinlich, A., Putnis, A. 2020. Effect of multistage solution–mineral contact in in-situ recovery for low-grade natural copper samples: Extraction, acid consumption, gangue-mineral changes and precipitation, Minerals Engineering. 159, 106616. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2020.106616 Locked article - requires journal subscription

Hidalgo, T., Verrall, M., Beinlich, A., Kuhar, L., Putnis, A. 2020. Replacement reactions of copper sulphides at moderate temperature in acidic solutions. Ore Geology Reviews. 123:103569.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2020.103569 Locked article - requires journal subscription

Hidalgo, T., Kuhar, L., Beinlich, A., Putnis, A. 2019. Kinetics and mineralogical analysis of copper dissolution from a bornite/chalcopyrite composite sample in ferric-chloride and methanesulfonic-acid solutions. Hydrometallurgy. 188:140-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2019.06.009 Locked article - requires journal subscription

Hidalgo, T., Kuhar, L., Beinlich, A., Putnis, A. 2018. Kinetic study of chalcopyrite dissolution with iron(III) chloride in methanesulfonic acid. Minerals Engineering. 125:66-74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2018.05.025 Locked article - requires journal subscription

Open access article Article is open access

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Page was last reviewed 10 May 2021

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