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Characterization and in-situ

monitoring of large scale heap


leach fluid dynamics

Danny Santis Valenzuela, Michael Milczarek, Tzung-mow Yao,


Jason Keller

Pilot Heap Leach Design


500,00 ton copper sulfide heap leach pilot project

0.5-inch crushed and agglomerated ore


18 m height
Approximately 90 m x 90 m leaching area
Drainage system split into 9 modules to monitor outflow
Double aeration system

Key questions for characterization and monitoring:

Ore permeability?
Solution distribution?
Oxygen content and distribution?
Temperature distribution and evolution?
In-situ solution sampling?

Operated for 1.3 years

Pilot Heap Leach Characterization


Daily samples from crusher plant (PSD)
Target < 50% passing the #4 mesh

Pre-leach and post-leach drilling for deep sub-surface sample


collection
Casing advancement to keep the hole open (and for instrument
placement during pre-leach)

Sample collection for:


Geochemical/mineralogy testing
Hydraulic and physical property testing (undisturbed samples)

Instrumentation and Monitoring


25 monitor well
0 to 17.5 m below ground surface

Monitoring parameters

Temperature oxygen/air piezometers (every 3 m)


Moisture content and capillary pressure (tension) (every 6 m)
Water piezometers (one per module)
Suction lysimeters (various)

Automated data collection w/ telemetry to control room

Aeration from East

Leaching Core
84 m x 84 m
1

Solution
Collection
Modules
30m x 30m
East

Topographic Gradient

Drainage lines
Aeration from West

West

In-situ Monitoring Instrument


Installation

Suction
lysimeter

Slide 6

Automated Data Collection


Hourly data collection w/
Telemetry to control room

RESULTS

11
/1
/2
00
7
12
/1
/2
00
12
7
/3
1/
20
07
1/
30
/2
00
8
2/
29
/2
00
8
3/
30
/2
00
8
4/
29
/2
00
8
5/
29
/2
00
8
6/
28
/2
00
8
7/
28
/2
00
8
8/
27
/2
00
8
9/
26
/2
00
10
8
/2
6/
20
08
11
/2
5/
20
08
12
/2
5/
20
08

Solution Content (v/v)


30%

25%
Start Double
Aeration
Stop Double
Aeration

6.0

20%
5.0

15%
4.0

10%
3.0

2.0

5%
1.0

0%
0.0

Date

Predicted Solution Content (v/v)


Avg Daily Irrigation Rate

Irrigation Rate (l/m2/hr)

Heap Solution Budget (Average)


8.0

7.0

Temperature at Depth (Center Borehole)

Date

Module 6 - East aeration grid

Module 4 - West aeration grid


Module 6 - West aeration grid

2008-11-02

Module 4 - East aeration grid

2008-10-31

2008-10-29

2008-10-27

2008-10-25

2008-10-23

2008-10-21

2008-10-19

2008-10-17

2008-10-15

2008-10-13

2008-10-11

2008-10-09

2008-10-07

2008-10-05

2008-10-03

2008-10-01

2008-09-29

Percolation flowrate (L/h/m2)

Percolation vs Aeration (direction)

East

West

North-South Solution Balance


(Normalized)
1.60

East
East

1.40

Drainage/Irrigation

1.20

West
West

1.00

Mod 1,4,7

0.80

Mod 2,5,8
Mod 3,6,9

0.60
0.40
0.20
0.00
Single East
Air

Double East
Air

Alt Air-E

Alt Air-W

No Air

4 m bgs Capillary Pressure Double


Aeration
2

7/10/2008 - Double Aeration From East, I=3.0 l/hr/m


0

80

-2

70

2
-20

4 m bgs
Capillary Pressure
(cm)

60
-20

40

20

16

20
0

0
-2

180

10 0

200

80

20

40

18

60

140
160

30

5
0

40

100

12

40

80

60

20

80

50

10 0
1 20

West

Y (m)

0
20

20

30

60

40

40

X (m)

20

50

40

60

70

-20
20

40
04-02
0

-20

0 20 0
16
0

12 0

10

14

40
20

10

18

-4020

80

200
180
160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
-20
-40
-60
-80
-100

East

Monitoring Data Summary


Time dependent behavior
High initial temperatures then temperature decline
Increasing solution balance
Solution samples showed more reducing conditions over time

Strong preferential solution and air flow


Low aeration efficiency
Highly variable oxygen contents
Low observed air connectivity under leach

Positive capillary pressures in heap


Combination of near saturation and CO2 accumulation

Post-leach Ore Sampling and


Testing
Drilled 52 boreholes (sonic drilling)

Samples every 1.5 m


Logging for oxidising and reducing conditions
Physical property and geometallurgical analyses
12 representative samples for hydraulic property testing

Determine relationship of PSD, bulk density and hydraulic


conductivity
Results correlated to monitoring data

Average PSD Before and After Leaching


100
90
80

#4 mesh

Percent Passing

70
60
50

#100 mesh

40
30

Average of All Core Samples

20
10
0

Average of Crush head

0.1

10
Particle Diameter (mm)

100

Percolation vs < #100 Mesh (module avg)


22.5
22.0

Percent Passing #100 Mesh

y = -0.061x + 22.015
R = 0.6559

Modules 1
and 4
Module 7

21.5

Module 5

Module 2
21.0

Module 3
Module 8
Module 6

20.5
20.0
Module 9

19.5
19.0

10

15

Percent of Total Collected Percolation

20

Relative Oxidising Conditions per


Module (52 boreholes)
Eastern Modules

90.0%

4,5,6 Transect

80.0%

Percent of Total Core

70.0%

Module 9

BETTER AERATION/SOLUTION FLOW

60.0%
50.0%
40.0%
30.0%
20.0%
10.0%
0.0%

u le
d
o

1
M

u le
d
o

2
M

u le
d
o

3
M

u le
d
o

4
M

u le
d
o

5
M

u le
d
o

Yellow (Oxidising)

6
M

u le
d
o

7
M

u le
d
o

9
vg
vg
e
A
A
l
u
u le
id e
od
d
s
t
M
o
M
Ou

Grey (Reducing)

4
6

2
4
Module 1

West

Depth (m bgs)

Module 2
Module 3
Module 4

10

Module 5
Module 6

12

Module 7
Module 8

14

8
10
Predicted-All
Modules
2 L/m2/hr

12
14

100X Safety
Factor

Ksat (cm/sec)

1.0E-02

1.0E-03

1.0E-04

16

1.0E-05

1.0E+00

1.0E-01

1.0E-02

1.0E-03

1.0E-04

1.0E-05

16

1.0E-06

Module 9

Ksat (cm/sec)

1.0E+00

Depth (m bgs)

East

1.0E-01

Post-Leach Predicted Permeability (Ksat)

High Flow in 4, 5, 6, 8 During No Aeration?

Other factors:
Decrepitation
Aeration/flow domains (initial fingering)
Aeration pipe damage
Earthquake

Lessons Learned
Bulk densities higher (permeability lower) than predicted:
Mostly in initial modules (i.e. 9) where crushing criteria was not being
met

Solution movement
Permeability contrasts, preferential flow
Decrepitation, particle orientation (and an earthquake)
Drainage layer pressurization by aeration

Low aeration efficiency


Air loss from sides, pipe damage
More air may not be better

Greatest oxidation/copper recovery observed in modules with


most air and solution flow