Characterization: A Valuable Resource

Subsurface geophysical characterization is a valuable tool for the mining industry giving stakeholders important information for metal recovery.  It is likely that a significant amount of metal inventory may be locked up in heaps, stockpiles, or dumps and the actual amount of recovered metal is lower than what the models predicted.  Over the years, HGI’s analyses have shown that between 10% and 40% of metal inventory is yet to be recovered. Low recovery is directly related to hydraulic processes; those processes can easily be characterized with HGI’s suite of technologies. What we offer is the ‘BIG Picture’ in understanding dynamic and interrelated hydraulic processes in action.


Following years of engineering and experience in characterization, HGI offers mining operators the ‘BIG Picture’ in understanding dynamic and interrelated heap hydraulic processes.


Heap hydraulics describes how the leach solution permeates the ore and efforts should be expended to more fully understand it. HGI fully believes that hydraulic processes is just as important as kinetics, stoichiometry, and thermodynamics in drawing down metal inventory. Our experience has shown that internal structure and large-scale heterogeneity will have a significant influence on the hydraulics, and the structure is unique to each system. The structure will be based on ore placement, lift height, crushing, agglomeration, and leach application rate.  HGI characterization methods reveal these and many other details showing how to increase your metal recovery.


Drip lines are used to irrigate heap leach pads for metal recovery from rubblized ore. The leach solution does not percolate uniformly and mining geophysical characterization is used to determine wetting. | Heap Solutions



Mining Geophysics for Characterization

HGI has relied heavily on the use of mining geophysics for characterization of critical components related to heaps, dumps, stockpiles, tailings, waste rock piles, and other engineered structures. Mining geophysics offers the ability to see a broad picture, which helps augment data from other sources. Over the past two decades, we have applied our geophysical methods on a significant number mining operations and we have gained an unprecedented wealth of knowledge about how each structure may function. With that knowledge, we can help you to formulate and understand newer means of extraction that can improve your bottom line.


Understanding hydraulic processes is a critical component in appreciating the leaching cycle. The use of geophysics for subsurface characterization of these structures will provide greater information aiding in increasing metal recovery.


Geophysical methods are scalable to meet a desired resolution, coverage, or depth of investigation. We have the equipment and experience to easily image over 1000ft into the dump and into native bedrock beneath it. We can also provide data over an entire heap, regardless of size. With HGI, you can be assured that a significant amount of experience will accompany every project. HGI has the breadth to tackle many types of characterization problems and we are interested in giving you the complete picture.


Example of surface drip lines used to irrigate heap leach pads for metal recovery. Leach solution does not percolate uniformly and mining geophysical characterization can be used to understand subsurface wetting.