Blog icon

The challenge

Profitable mining with minimal environmental impact

Many rich mineral deposits lie deep in the earth and are uneconomic to mine due to the cost of reaching or extracting them through traditional mining techniques.

In-situ recovery could enable selective mining with less environmental disturbance to traditional open cut mines.

In many situations, a desire to access valuable mineral resources may exist but the prospect of an open cut or large scale excavation may not be feasible or desirable.

In-situ recovery, or ISR, is an approach to mineral extraction which combines drilling, rock fracturing and chemical leaching directly at the drill site, creating minimal surface disturbance of the landscape.

Sometimes called in-situ leaching or solution mining, ISR initially involves drilling holes into the ore deposit. Fracturing technologies may then be used to create open pathways in the deposit for leaching solution to penetrate.  The solution is pumped into the fractured ore body, dissolving the metals into the leach solution, which is then pumped to the surface and processed.

ISR has been applied widely in uranium mining and to a lesser extent in gold and copper mining operations in Australia and the USA, yet has the potential to be more widely applied to other minable ores.

Our response

Building industry in Australia

We are working with the research and technology community to develop ISR approaches for a broad range of metals and mineral systems.

We are mobilising our considerable expertise in geology, hydrology, hydrometallurgy, environmental and social impacts, techno-economics to advance specific ISR capability and deployment in Australia.

We are addressing key challenges and knowledge gaps, such as:

  • identifying and evaluating ore deposits suitable for ISR
  • techniques and technologies for creating direct access pathways to target minerals, and
  • demonstrating and gaining acceptance of ISR as an environmentally friendly and sustainable process.

With a range of partners in the mining and energy industries, research, METS sector and regulatory bodies, we are beginning to unlock the opportunities that ISR presents.

Do business with us to help your organisation thrive

We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

Contact us now to start doing business

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.