Environment

What is In-situ Copper Recovery (ISCR)?

In-situ copper recovery is an environmentally responsible way of extracting copper from the ground. A low-pH solution similar in strength to household vinegar slowly dissolves copper in the bedrock. At the same time this solution is being introduced into the copper ore body, it is also being drawn through the ore and extracted. More solution is pumped out than is pumped in, and the deposit is flushed with water after the copper extraction is complete, so none of the solution is left behind. The water just outside of the project area is continually monitored to ensure proper water quality.

Florence Copper will drill and operate 24 wells at the facility, including four injection wells and nine recovery wells. Four geochemical sampling wells and seven observation wells will also be used to verify that the solution is being recovered and groundwater is unaffected. It will operate for one year, and may be extended for a second year. Operations will include 24-hour site monitoring, sampling, and reporting to the ADEQ and EPA. Commercial operating permits will only be issued if the facility is proved to operate safely.

The Production Test Facility at Florence Copper is designed to prove that in-situ recovery can be done responsibly. Environmental and water quality monitoring will be on-going throughout the operation.

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Air Quality

Florence Copper received a renewed Air Quality permit for operations at Florence Copper from the Pinal County Air Quality Control District in March 2018.

Any dust or emissions from the Florence Copper solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) plant are expected to be minimal and well within health standards enforced by Pinal County and the Environmental Protection Agency.

During full operations, an estimated 245 employees and contractors are likely to drive to the Florence Copper site each day. Shipment of equipment and supplies will require about 12 truck trips per day, while shipment of copper cathode will require an average of 3 truck trips per day. All truck and most car traffic will use state highways and major roads and will not enter residential neighborhoods. 

Project Regulations

Florence Copper worked with both the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure operating permits. Operating and closure plans go through extensive reviews before permits were granted. All Florence Copper activities will be monitored on a continual basis to ensure the project remains safe.

The regulatory process included several public hearings where residents could give their comments about the permits. The below video shows one Florence participating in this process.


Permits that the project has received and will maintain include the following:


FAQ's

Read more about our commitment to the environment in our Frequently Asked Questions.