Undergraduate Student Researcher Wanted for In-Situ Solution Mining

Research Project Description for Undergraduate Student Researcher for Spring 2017 and Summer 2017
 
In-situ solution mining as a sustainable option for copper metal extraction and recovery
 
In-situ leaching is the circulation of a weak acid or base directly in an ore deposit to dissolve a target metal. The liquid is then pumped to the surface via recovery wells for processing and metal recovery. Copper in-situ leaching could potentially allow for a low-cost, less environmentally invasive recovery option for deposits which may be too small or low grade for conventional mining. The Florence copper porphyry deposit, located in central Arizona, is currently in advanced permitting stages for an in-situ copper recovery operation.  A series of tests have been conducted by a collaborator, exposing ore samples from the deposit to acid solutions to observe the dissolution of copper and non-copper minerals. Samples of leached residues have been provided to Cornell for evaluation.
 
The selected undergraduate student will use various techniques to identify the mineral phases present in these leached residues, both on fracture surfaces and in the matrix. Techniques may include X Ray Diffraction, Scanning Electron Microscopy, and/or Energy Dispersive X Ray Spectroscopy. The student does not necessarily need to have direct experience with these characterization techniques, but must be sufficiently familiar with undergraduate-level mineralogy and/or geochemistry to carry out the work. In a parallel study in our group, we are evaluating the use of supercritical fluid extraction to selectively recover rare earth elements (REE) from aqueous liquid solutions. It may be possible for students with sufficient backgrounds to get involved with this study as well.
 
A high level of independence will be required. The student will be expected to review the required literature, prepare their own study plan, obtain equipment training from the necessary departments, and draft a final report at the end of the semester. The student is expected to work approximately 5 hours per week. The weekly schedule can be negotiated to fit the student's class schedule.
 
Interested students should contact, Laura Sinclair (lks82@cornell.edu), who is working with CBE Professor Jeff Tester (jwt54@cornell.edu) and EAS  Professor John Thompson  (jft66@cornell.edu)