A scientific mix of environmental, geophysics, mining engineering, economic and social science factors now play a significant role in support of the In-Situ Recovery of copper at Kapunda's historic mine.
These aspects formed a discussion on Tuesday involving 15 leading researchers from around Australia, who were brought to the site by the Environmental Copper Recovery (ECR) team.
The visit follows a recent Co-operative Research Grant awarded to ECR and research partners, University of Adelaide and CSIRO, by the Commonwealth Government.
According to Leon Faulkner from ECR, academics in related fields gathered to collaborate ideas and assess the site.
"Discussions focused on the water table, water flows and environmental impacts, plus what it means for the community – in relation to access and economic benefits,” he said.
In depth research into the Kapunda site aims to create better environmental outcomes, improve economic results and potentially reduce community concerns.
Mr Faulkner explained, while Kapunda residents and the council were “cautiously” on board with the return of copper recovery at the historic site.
Concerns raised by the community involved how the metal would be extracted, how the process would impact the water table and the physical impact around the mine.
“In-Situ Recovery (ISR) mining now has the ability to profitably remove metals from within the ground without significantly affecting the earth’s surface,” he said.
“ISR won’t generate significant noise, dust, or many of the other issues generally associated with conventional mining projects and will have minimal disruption to access to the site.”
An estimated 119,000 tonnes of copper is potentially amenable to ISR recovery at Kapunda.
“While in its early stages, successful development of an (ISR) process to extract copper and other metals from diverse geological environments will be a step change in Australian mining,” Mr Faulkner said.
On Tuesday, CSIRO Land and Water social scientist Dr Rod McCrea, whose work centre's on the project’s community impacts, explained how he will connect with the community.
“I will look at, how do people feel about a renewed mining industry here and how they would view a low impact form of mining,” he said.
Also on site was University of Adelaide, Waite campus, CSIRO Land and Environment principal research scientist Dr Jason Kirby who spoke about the development of an environmentally sustainable ISR mining industry.
"To view the site gives me an idea of the life of the mine, how we will establish environmental baseline and monitoring parameters and hence develop control and mitigation measures,”Dr Kirby said.
“All-in-all creating best-practice for an environmentally sustainable ISR mine”.
Mr Faulkner, with the researchers, added how a major requirement of the grant will be to provide education sessions for the community and industry to keep them up-to-date with work.
Success with this project will also give the industry a tangible demonstration and provide a template for future ventures to unlock new deposits currently considered as stranded assets.
For more details visit www.envirocopper.com.au.