In-situ copper recovery (ISCR) requires minimal changes to the surface and aesthetics of the land and provides numerous options for land use after copper recovery is complete.
A typical ISCR operation consists of a series of injection, recovery and monitoring wells penetrating a soluble copper deposit. A low-pH water-based solution comprising more than 99.5% water and less than 0.5% sulphuric acid -- similar in acidity to lemon juice or household vinegar -- is pumped through perforations in the lower portion of the injection wells and into the copper mineralization. Typically, a ring of four recovery wells surrounds each injection well, creating a hydrologic flow that allows for full recapture of all solution.
This copper-rich solution is then pumped to surface through recovery wells where it is captured for processing. Monitoring wells just beyond the capture zone are designed to ensure that all solution is contained and recovered. That's what makes Florence Copper safe, and profitable.
Pumping rates in recovery wells are typically higher than the rate at which solution is injected into the copper deposit, further ensuring that all solution is recaptured and local groundwater resources are protected. Copper bearing solution is then sent to a solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) plant for the on-site manufacture of 99.999% pure copper cathode sheets.
Although ISCR technology and practices have been employed throughout North America and around the world for more than 40 years, including at several project sites in Arizona, Florence Copper will be the first stand-alone operation of its kind.
Full ISCR production will require the installation of an ISCR well-field, upgrading and expansion of solution storage tanks, construction of a SX/EW plant and associated administration, transportation and power infrastructure.