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.