Smart Automated Monitoring and Control of the Leaching Program

Leaching heaps are vast areas traditionally requiring the presence of operators for irrigation control and monitoring. The lack of or limited instrumentation employed at leach heaps is a far cry from the degree of standard automation featured in the rest of the mining process.

For instance, in combined wetting and leaching procedures, operators regulate the solution flow by opening and closing valves and because valve cycles vary in length and frequency, already understaffed operations expose operators to risky and difficult follow-up activities. The latter makes it impossible to thoroughly record the process and subsequently analyze results.

The lack of monitoring and control tools limits troubleshooting and problem solving in the heap, thereby affecting process profitability.

Thanks to our expertise and process knowledge, at we have successfully developed, tested and implemented our proprietary Leachtrol® system for smart automated monitoring and control of the leaching program.

This system features a base station and wireless remote units with an independent power supply. The irrigation program is housed at the base station and sends operating instructions to the remote units, which act accordingly and then send back the field readings taken by their sensors.

Remote unit for automated irrigation control operating at Compañía Minera Cerro Colorado (BHP Billiton Pampa Norte).

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The Leachtrol® system is able to:

  • Ensure compliance with the leach schedule as designed, according to irrigation timing and rates in order to maximize recovery.
  • Keep management control by issuing reports and early warnings in the event of deviations.
  • Store operational history in a database for future analysis.
  • Adapt to and be used with all kinds of operations and irrigation protocols, even tests.
  • Introduce leading technology for intelligent automated control with the degree of precision required for each process.
  • Make operations safer by minimizing operator presence on the heap.

  • Control display of our proprietary software tool Leachtrol®, which adapts to each operation providing detailed information on wetting zones and their status. (Click to zoom)

Adding technology to the leaching process by using the Leachtrol® system for automated and smart monitoring and control of the leaching process, significantly increased overall compliance. Compliance levels of up to 96% were achieved, considering: operating pressure, scheduled openings and closures, and circulating flow. On-line information and recording allowed for responding to alarms early on and conducting quantitative assessments on the process.

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