In-Situ Mining

Mining can be done without moving any rock known as in-situ mining or in-situ recovery(ISR).

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Mining can be done without moving any rock known as in-situ mining or in-situ recovery(ISR). In 2016, 48% of the world’s mined uranium was from is our operations gold, copper and many other elements can also be extracted using ISR in comparison to other mining methods which include underground mining, surface mining, and placer mining ISR involves dissolving the minerals deposits in place and then processing it without moving any ground.

The steps of ISR for copper are quite simple

Step 1

Bleaching solution is pumped through the injection wells

Step 2

The solution moves through the naturally fractured rock and dissolves the copper.

Step 3

Recovery wells extract the copper-rich solution

Step 4

Solution is pumped to the surface for standard processing

Step 5

Copper is extracted from the solution to create pure copper cathode sheets

Step 6

lining solution is recycled back to the well-filled in Scituate largely recycles water, all this provides you with lower processing costs, no dust or big pits, and safe mining making it healthier for our environment.

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There are 4 main technologies used in In-situ mining-
  • Steam assisted gravity drainage(SAGD)
  • Cycle steam stimulation (CSS)
  • Toe to heel air injection(THAI)
  • VAPEX

Steam assisted gravity drainage(SAGD), Cycle steam stimulation (CSS) use steam as a means of reducing viscosity and producing bitumen.

Toe to heel air injection(THAI) involves igniting air in a vertical well to melt and recover bitumen and VAPEX uses solvents to increase the viscosity of bitumen for recovery.

In-situ production is required for approximately 80% of the bitumen found in the oil sands and the most commonly used technology for this production is SAGD.

SAGD was invented in 1978 by Dr. Roger Butler, a chemical engineer from England.

SAGD works by drilling two horizontal wells beneath the surface parallel to each other about 4-6 meters apart from the top well is injected with steam hat heath the surrounding bitumen reducing its viscosity, this is the steam-assisted part of the name, the last viscosity bitumen then drainss into the bottom well with the help of gravity and is pumped to the surface this is the gravity drainage part of the name, the produced bitumen is mixed with hydrocarbons to further reduce its viscosity and is then stored in storage tanks for transportation and further processing.

SAGD has several advantages over oil sands mining. SAGD production has less land disturbance and does not result in the creation of tailings ponds.

However, SAGD requires a large amount of thermal energy to produce steam. Currently, the vast majority of this energy is provided by natural gas.

Making greenhouse gas emissions a key concern for the process in addition to water use is another important concern. The safety process requires a significant amount of water through 80 to 95 % of the water used is recycled back into the process.

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