Thor Mining (LSE:THR) announced today that proof of concept has been established for In-situ Recovery of copper at the Kapunda Copper Project. The company has the right to earn-in to a 45% effective interest in the project which is located 90km north of Adelaide in South Australia. In February, Thor announced a maiden resource estimate in partnership with Environmental Copper Recovery SA Pty Ltd and Terramin Pty Ltd (ASX: TZN), suggesting the site has an inferred JORC compliant resource of 119,000 tonnes of copper amenable to In-situ Recovery techniques.

In-situ Recovery (ISR) or solution mining has a lower environmental footprint than conventional mining with little visual impact and minimal infrastructure required.

The process accelerates what is naturally happening within the bedrock and water table and until recent advances in technology, had limited applications in mineral extraction. It’s now possible to apply the ISR method of extraction to copper and gold resources that were previously un-minable. During the process, a benign solution is pumped into bores drilled into the ore body to dissolve the copper. The copper containing solution is then pumped to a recovery plant to extract the metal from the liquid.

The In-situ Recovery (ISR) process

source: www.envirocopper.com.au

Kapunda is suitable for ISR since it is a shallow resource and the area has a high water table. Thor says it has completed water sampling and the initial hydrogeological assessment is positive. Computer modelling suggests that flow through the ore body is possible and the geology is amenable for ISR. 

As reported in July, The Australian Government Ministry for Science, Jobs and Innovation has offered Environmental Copper Recovery SA Pty Ltd research funding of A$2,851,303, over a 30 month period to demonstrate the In-Situ Recovery (ISR) process at Kapunda.

 Mick Billing, Executive Chairman, commented:

"The proof of concept stage has been successful in demonstrating that, from both a technical and social viewpoint, we should proceed to the next stage of work. This next stage (stage 2) will include: relevant approval processes, pump and environmental testing, and will incorporate a field recovery trial to generate solution and test a variety of metal recovery options."  

"The successful completion of these stages was complemented by the receipt of a (CRC-P) Commonwealth Research Program Grant for A$2.85 million for the Kapunda Copper ISR project, further supporting this exciting initiative of an economically and environmentally sustainable mining future technique."

"We look forward to providing further information on this exciting project, and each of our other projects at Molyhil (including Bonya), and Pilot Mountain in the coming weeks."

Author: Stuart Langelaan

Disclosure: The author does not own shares in the company mentioned above