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Modeling In Situ Copper Leaching in an Unsaturated Setting
  • Published Date:
    1/1/2010
Filetype[PDF - 4.19 MB]


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  • Description:
    The permeability and flow capacity in unsaturated media are investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Mines for application to in situ copper leach mining. Moisture retention properties are derived and combined with scanning electron microprobe data to characterize the mineralogy, texture, pore size, distribution, and permeability of the host rock. Finite-element modeling is used to derive a saturated permeability, ambient degree of saturation, and assess various injection-recovery schemes. Recommended design modifications for optimization of solution distribution and maximum recovery from the rock matrix requires either (1) the injection pressures on the order of 1,500 psi and recovery wells operating in a suction mode, or (2) performing permeability enhancement, through in situ rubbling. Injection pressures can be reduced to 500 psi with improved recovery and containment of solutions.

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