The Effect of Hydro-Jex Operation on the Stability of Heap Leach Pads: a Case Study of a Heap Leach Operation in Central Mexico

Abstract

Hydro-Jex® is a new enhanced method for heap leach treatment with significantly higher mineral recovery. In this case study at the Los Filos Mine in Mexico, the Hydro-Jex operation is evaluated for heap leach stability. This is pursued by numerical modeling of the heap leach pad stability and well monitoring of the phreatic surface before and after the Hydro-Jex operation. Experimental and numerical results both indicate an improvement in mineral processing under the influence of Hydro-Jex. Numerical results show an insignificant decrease and a significant increase in stability during and after Hydro-Jex injection application, respectively. The integrity of the liner is maintained in both cases. The zonal injection pressure, operationally below the overburden pressure, is found to be negligible compared with the dimensionality of the heap, and stability of the structure is not exposed to any significant risk, even up to 25% above overburden pressure. Furthermore, heap leach factor of safety increases after Hydro-Jex application. This is attributed to breakdown of the water solution build-up and thus a decrease in the phreatic surface depth below the top of the pad. It is suggested that injection wells be drilled, based on thorough geophysical data, in locations where overcompaction of heap material results in water solution build-up and pore pressure enhancement. Compared with traditional heap leaching, the Hydro-Jex technique not only expedites mineral processing by increasing chemical kinetics extraction but also increases the stability of the heap by unclogging drains.

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Correspondence to Behrooz Abbasi.

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Abbasi, B., Azarfar, B., Ahmadvand, S. et al. The Effect of Hydro-Jex Operation on the Stability of Heap Leach Pads: a Case Study of a Heap Leach Operation in Central Mexico. Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-020-00251-4

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Keywords

  • Hydro-Jex
  • Stability analysis
  • Numerical modeling
  • Heap leach pad