Design considerations for impounding valley leach pads vs. conventional
Mining Engineering, 2012, Vol. 64, No. 7, pp. 49-49
Breitenbach, Allan; Smith, Mark
Leaching has been used since the 1600s on unlined ore dumps and since the late 1970s on lined leach pads for the recovery of metals from mined ore, the latter typically called “heap” leaching and the former “dump” leaching. Modern day run-of-mine (ROM) or crushed ore heaps are stacked in controlled lifts on lined leach pads and irrigated with a solvent solution (dilute alkaline cyanide for precious meals, dilute sulfuric acid for base metals and uranium). Conventional lined leach pads store process solutions and any storm water, snow melt and cumulative wet season surplus water by gravity flow to external ponds. Impounding valley leach pads (also known as valley fill heaps) differ from conventional leach pads by storing various combinations of process liquid solution and surplus water within internal ponds by using the interstitial pore volume of the ore.