A Technology for Integrity Testing of In Situ Leach Mining Wells Using a System of Inflatable Packers
Description:The Bureau of Mines investigated technologies for testing the integrity of in situ leach mining wells, as required by environmental regulations. To test for leaks, inflatable packers were used to seal the well casing. Laboratory testing determined that the packers could contain a casing pressure up to 50 to 60 psi (345 to 414 kPa) less than the packer inflation pressure. Single-and double-packer configurations were successfully field-tested in 32 wells ranging from 500 to 530 ft (153 to 162 m) in depth. A rigid pipeline and a hoist truck were used to run the packers in and out of the wells for the double-packer tests, which averaged 2-1/4 h each. In an effort to decrease the time of the rigid-pipe double-packer test. a self-contained trailer-mounted test system was designed and built. It utilizes a winch and steel cable to run the packers in and out of the well and high-pressure nylon tubing for packer inflation. This system was successfully field-tested in eight wells averaging 650 ft (198 m) in depth and resulted in a time savings of 13 pct and an operator-hour reduction of 42 pct.
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