Experts say studies conducted early should give insight that can be used throughout the life of the system
By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer
The common thread in the advice on heap-leach pad (HLP) system design given to E&MJ by high-level people at a handful of junior mining companies centers largely on preparing for the worst. Specifically, it covers the basic and early steps required to minimize the chances of the worst ever occurring.
Whether the miner is operating in lush, subtropical Mexico or the barrens of Nevada, when planning a pad, the long-term goal of closing it in the distant future, without incident, should be the foremost operating motive, they say. That can mean planning for a 500-year storm. It can mean planning on establishing the best possible relations with the surrounding community. Most of the time, however, it means repetitive drilling and layers of lab testing on the ore to get a clear picture of what will happen to it when it is stacked sky high and irrigated.
Sky high, in the Andes, is a good starting point.