In situ recovery (ISR) is a technology that has been around for decades but has only gained much popularity in recent years. Some people believe that the ISR process is the future of mining. Others criticize it and claim that it’s too costly and has many environmental and safety issues. This article explores ISR mining and explains how it differs from traditional mining.
In Situ Recovery: What It Is and the Benefits It Brings
In situ recovery is a method for extracting petroleum, natural gas or minerals through the use of wells that are drilled into the earth. The extracted materials are then brought to the surface through the wells.
In the ISR method, materials are not mined from the earth, but it is a way to extract existing materials that were deposited at a certain depth. It is more accurate to think of in situ recovery as a method of extraction, not a new way to do it, as opposed to extraction that is done on the surface.
ISR is a way to recover materials that are already there, and in some cases, has been used to get to the materials that were previously unrecoverable.
Environmental aspects of ISR
Many of the environmental issues associated with mining are alleviated by the in situ recovery method. Examples of the ways ISR reduces the negative effects of mining are:
- ISR does not involve open-pit, surface removal of materials from an area. Instead, it uses smaller, deeper drilling techniques that are designed to minimize disruption to the surface.
- Neighbouring areas, as well as individuals who live and work in the area, are less at risk of being negatively impacted by the drilling and recovery process.
- The risk of acid and metal leaching into the soil and water is mitigated, as the materials are typically pumped and not trucked out of the site.
- The water table is not disturbed to the same extent as it is by surface mining.
- ISR reduces the amount of vegetation that is cleared in order to access the resources. The materials are brought to the surface through the well and are then piped off of the site.
ISR provides a number of economic advantages for the areas in which it is performed:
- The method has the potential to lower the overall cost of extracting resources due to the lower cost of constructing the wells, which can be a fraction of the cost of a traditional mine.
- The process does not require the same period of time in order to recover the resources as the mining method.
- As the mining wells are much smaller than those used in traditional mining and therefore have a lower environmental impact, there is less need for extensive cleanup when the wells are no longer in use.
- The use of small, local contractors and the stockpiling of materials on-site means that the community benefits from the operation.
- The technology and methods used in ISR have evolved to the point that they are a very sustainable method of resource recovery.
ISR is fast growing in popularity, but it is important to note that it is not a new technology, only a newer method of extraction. The understanding of mineral sources, and their recovery, has evolved significantly in recent years and is expected to continue to do so.
If you are looking to learn more about the advantages of in-situ mining or need to find more sustainable options for mining, come to Group 11 Technologies. We are committed to the development and application of environmentally and socially responsible mineral extraction. Contact us today!