THE FACT IS
Some Fundamental Thoughts and Facts about Hydro-Scopic™ Mining
Hydro-Scopic™ mining is important because it can be a tool that recovers valuable needed resources for an emerging new world of technological diversification requiring precious raw materials, which can become more available using this tool. Precious materials are often found in difficult-to-mine placer deposits, e.g. tech-valued europium-rich, thorium-poor dark monazite found in placer deposits in shallow Alaskan waters. Responsible recovery of such placers can help spur economic diversification, benefit jobs both directly and indirectly, not to mention supporting national security concerns and many other good things. Hydro-Scopic™ mining provides a small, mobile, commercial-scale, placer production process, which can be duplicated into many mining units, that can be deployed with synchronicity on mining sites having no foreseeable limits to placer resource recovery.
The Fact Is...
Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s process is a response to significant socioeconomic and profit opportunities that can be replicated into an array of mining units simultaneously recovering vast amounts of available and valuable natural resources.
As an example of just one unit’s production potential, the Hydro-Scopic™ mining process may proceed like this — an established subsurface mining deposit containing gold and platinum group metals has been assessed by Beta sampling to contain at least 4 grams of free gold per cubic meter, (along with platinum, palladium and rhodium) in a 3 meter thick placer deposit, 50 meters deep from the ground surface, flushed in ground water, mixed with boulders and pay-gravel on bedrock — what can the process of Hydro-Scopic™ mining expect to recover from such a target? With Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s jetting performance creating a subsurface biscuit-to-conical shaped mining cavity of about 10 meters in diameter, 1 meter high (which has been empirically demonstrated by traditional borehole methods) with a central floor sump — during one 10 hour shift using an Alpha configuration, with about 4 crew members, it is reasonable to expect that approximately 78.5 cubic meters of pay-dirt will be recovered for processing. More than 10 ounces of gold should be recovered in this 10 hour shift, (not even counting the value of platinum group elements). At just $1000 per ounce of gold, for example, production recovering 4 grams/cubic meter equates to about $10,000 of gold per shift. An extensive ‘mega-tonnage’ deposit, such as discovered in Washington’s Similkameen drainage, can be recovered using a ‘cookie cutter’ mining approach. If the recovered pay-dirt produces 1 ounce of gold per cubic meter, this equates to about $78,500 in gold per single 10 hour shift — this can equate to about $2million per month (which can double with co-product extraction of platinum group elements). Multiple potential mining sites are already known to exist in the USA, sitting idle with deep virgin-rich placer with many having the potential to pay 1 ounce per cubic yard or more. Some deposits are calculated (using core drilling for sampling and seismic mapping) to have miles of deposit at various depths, just waiting to be Hydro-Scopic™ mined. People say, “No way – that place would be mined!” But the reality is boulders (in particular) prevent mining from happening, if the site can’t be open-pit or shaft mined. Like asteroids that are made of gold — just because we know where they are doesn’t mean they can be mined. Canyons and all sorts of other places protect their rich known buried deposits from being touched, because of loose rock, water and boulders. Boulders, big and small (like piles of rocks) are often the primary challenge that stops conventional borehole mining in gold-bearing placer. However, boulders should present no real problem for Hydro-Scopic™ mining. Hydro-Scopic™ mining was designed with its ‘sonic’ system capabilities, advanced tooling and new methods to work in spite of such challenges, including water-filled sites.
The Fact Is...
Because boulders seem to be such a concern to many miners, let’s discuss just a little further the problem of boulders. Boulders may accumulate beneath the casing (metal lining of a borehole) of a mining operation. This will prohibit traditional borehole mining from occurring below the casing primarily because of eductor intake blockages, as has been well documented by experts such as Dr. George A. Savanick. Hydro-Scopic™ mining, however, is designed with cavity slurry outflow through the annulus positioned with its intake opening near the cavity ceiling and exiting at the surface; thereby it does not have this problem of boulder blockage. Boulders, some of which are small enough to move in a flowing current, can actually help the trommel effect within a subsurface Hydro-Scopic™ mining jetted cavity by rolling around for enhanced breakage and cleaning of slurry material. Such boulders can also simultaneously undergo erosive and fracturing changes. If a boulder sits on the Hydro-Scopic™ mining sump trap entrance it may be simply broken up by jetting or drilled to recover contents of the sump trap beneath it, as would a pile of large rocks after being penetrated by extending a sonic casing string. Boulders or accumulated piles of rock debris should not trap or prevent down-hole sonic jetting equipment from working (i.e. complementary sized jetting rods, casing and core barrel) because certain design features of the proven sonic core drilling system facilitate removal or advancement of downhole equipment in such situations, using acoustic energy. Sonic drilling design is unique in its functional ability to work in such conditions.
The Fact Is...
Hydro-Scopic™ mining exploits existing proven capabilities of ‘sonic’ technology in order to mine placers with boulders and other challenges, and can do so as a direct result of its central sonic platform and attachable Hydro-Scopic™ mining innovations.
So, understanding better what Hydro-Scopic™ mining can provide, as an overview and how its process is designed to solve the significant problem of boulder blockage as encountered by conventional borehole mining – one could ask, but what makes the process better—how does it actually work? To these questions there is no simple answer. Hydro-Scopic™ mining is a process designed to combine new innovations with established ideas for borehole mining of previously unrecoverable placer deposits that involves multiple levels of activities. But, in a nut shell, the Hydro-Scopic™ mining process should effectively disintegrate a deposit while extracting most of it, allowing high-grading to occur in a sump trap, which collects heavy-concentrate contents that are recovered using a sonic core barrel. This occurs using both the Alpha and Beta configurations in a manner designed specifically to meet objectives of their complimentary but distinctive configurations. However, in order to high-grade concentrate in a sump trap for mining recovery or bulk sampling, a portion of light slurry material must be removed from the expanding mining cavity to desaturate the slurry allowing heavier material to gravitate downwards as quickly as possible to concentrate in the sump trap. This allows for sonic core barrel recovery.Extraction of less-dense slurry simultaneously with jetting disintegration of the deposit is a critical element to success of this new process and occurs by moving slurry through the space (annulus) between the casing and the jetting rod. But success of this process does require new ideas, one of which is the innovative eductor apparatus, the Hydro-Mining eductor coupling.
The Fact Is...
Hydro-Scopic™ mining integrates both proven and new innovative apparatus and methods in order to achieve placer extraction using new strategies, such as concentrating heavy jetted placer contents into a sump and removing the concentrate using a sonic core barrel.
Just one new concept introduced by the process — Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s patented ‘eductor couplings’ act as force multipliers helping to counteract drag within a casing for extracting stratified ‘lighter’ slurry, helping to lift the cavity’s more easily suspended slurry up through a borehole’s annulus from a hydraulically-jetted deep placer mining deposit. An eductor coupling is part of an advanced patented pumping system that contributes to flushing up less dense “lighter suspended” slurry material out of the subsurface borehole excavation site through the annular space (a vortex extraction conduit between rod and casing) upwards to the surface for dewatering and additional classification, while heavier material is concentrated in a sump to be recovered using a core barrel. As a relatively basic mining process (with a sonic core drill rig as the primary platform), the Hydro-Scopic™ mining design applies a stratifying bifurcated recovery system, using both the annular space (with its eductor couplings) and a sonic core barrel, to effectively recover deep placer deposits where conventional borehole mining methods have failed. This is partly because two interactive but separate recovery methods are used: 1) sonic core barrel extraction of concentrated heavy elements from a sump being one method, where sump recovery of concentrated “heavier” material is a function of Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s ability to move suspended ‘lighter’ slurry material out of the mining cavity, and 2) surface recovery of suspended “lighter” slurry material from the mining cavity facilitated by eductor couplings and other forces flushing the “lighter” slurry upwards.
The Fact Is...
New apparatus, with historically effective functional basis, have been designed to achieve new objectives of Hydro-Scopic™ mining, facilitating the ability to effectively mine previously untouchable subsurface valuable resources.
To further extend the example of Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s design feature for functional light-slurry extraction: the sonic rod string incorporates attachable eductor couplings. The outside diameter of the sonic rod string (from the water spindle downward to the shoe jet) has a consistent ‘prototype’ external diameter of 4.25” — important because with size irregularities the rod string and attached apparatus, such as the jetting sub-coupling and eductor couplings, could easily get stuck upon trying to extract the rod string from a borehole – just like a syringe needle needs to have a consistent radial-axial dimension for easier insertion and extraction through the skin. The sonic rod string has the added benefit of sonic oscillation to reduce external drag, which can help it slip through material even better than a syringe needle. The proposed prototype annulus intake space (between jetting rod and casing) varies from about 2.0” to 4.0”, acting as a ‘ classifying mechanism’ as well as the ‘intake’ for the annulus that provides an outflow conduit for suspended light-slurry being extracted to the surface processor. Forcing suspended slurry to the surface requires forces that Hydro-Scopic™ mining integrates by combining: 1) the pressure gradient effect as defined in part by the hydraulic head and centrifugal pump power, 2) the eductor jetting array (using Bernoulli’s principle) as provided by the eductor couplings, and 3) the sonic ‘billows’ effect as provided by sonic rod wave fluctuation. Theses multiple components act together to force placer slurry (comprised of water and suspended gravel material) upwards through the annulus to the surface processor for more efficient and less problematic placer gold recovery as compared to using a single dedicated eductor pump in the cavity, as employed by more conventional methods.
The Fact Is...
Hydro-Scopic™ mining uses less water and energy with increased extraction efficacy because it is purposely designed to be a system utilizing multiple components to achieve more predictable outcomes, which in this example primarily regards the important function of effective light-slurry extraction.
Generally speaking, proven apparatus designs such as nozzles are also incorporated into Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s design. A nozzle simultaneously applies the kinetic energy of a pressurized fluid stream to the established design of ‘excavating’ jets, (which disintegrate and disaggregate a subsurface deposit into slurry-filled cavity), and also to innovative eductor couplings’ ‘extracting’ jets. The jetted stream effectiveness is primarily a function of nozzle size/shape, pressure, flow rate and power. Other notable known features of jetting effectiveness are standoff distance and jetting angle. Different jetting stream objectives at different depths of the Hydro-Scopic™ mining operation require different applications and designs of nozzles and their facilitating equipment. Based on a documented ‘demonstration of concept’, water flow parameters can be augmented by sonic head acoustic energy as it passes through a sonic rod. As a result it is expected that enhanced flow metrics can be delivered to a prototype’s jetting nozzles enhancing their excavating ability.
The Fact Is...
Nozzle design has been well-developed by existing technology, and has been adapted to augment enhanced jetting system features implemented by Hydro-Scopic™ mining.
So, Hydro-Scopic™ mining fundamentally transforms an existing sonic core-drilling rig into a sonic jet-mining rig by integrating specialized tooling and methodology, which can include multiple facilitating ideas*** which can only be briefly discussed or mentioned in this text. Sonically-pulsed water jets essentially create an underground cavity which can vortex up suspended lighter slurry to a surface processor while simultaneously forcing downward larger heavies (e.g. gold nuggets approximately 7 inches wide when using an 8 inch core barrel) into a sump gold trap. This is analogous to ‘panning gold’ (especially when considering using the more efficient conical batea design ****) where heavies gravitate to the central bottom of the pan (mining cavity) and most of the “lighter” material exits over the pan’s lip (up to the processor), but on a commercial scale and with technological enhancements provided by Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s design. Just like in a gold pan where gold concentrates in the bottom of the pan, gold concentrate and heavy elements can be collected (along with black sand and less-dense material) in a core barrel. This can be done with some light -slurry debris still in the cavity. It’s a progressive process of core extraction from the sump that can potentially remove all mobile heavy concentrate (big gold nuggets and small) from the cavity. All slurry debris (including boulders) does not need to be removed from a mining cavity to maximize concentrate collection from the sump trap using a sonic core barrel. Refining the heavies occurs on the surface. The mining/panning principles and strategies applied are basically the same. When borehole mining at a site is finished the subsurface cavity can then be backfilled and sealed. Fundamentally, this new ‘total’ process works to: recycle clean water; provide for a high recovery rate of untouched deep gold-filled placers with relatively low capital costs; minimize water use involving no chemicals; while generating minimal surface disturbance (among other things).
Regarding energizing the jetting process, the Goulds Model 3393, seven-stage centrifugal pump, should provide Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s prototype (as empirically proven by A.B. Fly’s and other well-documented borehole in situ mining processes) with the required mining performance metrics for mining as deep as 200 feet deep, recovering about 20 cubic yards/hour in a boulder field infused with water. The pump should effectively power: 1) two 0.5inch diameter percussive excavating jets nozzles pushing ~200 gallons/min each (~300ft/sec jet streams) using an effective (~1:3 ratio) short jetting nozzle design, as well as 2) a small ~0.1inch nozzle jet stream bottom shoe jet for agitating the sump contents to enhance heavies concentrating in the sump, and 3) a variable number of multiple small eductor jet nozzles oriented into the annulus using eductor coupling platforms to facilitate “lighter” slurry extraction. As a result 400-500 gallons/minute of water at 1000psi should be jetted, facilitated by a “governor”, which can be the ITT PumpSmart variable speed drive attachment. The pumping system will make instantaneous adjustments to volume/psi as needed to maintain static flow levels of pressurized water correcting for situational variations which includes integrating small patented eductor coupling jets. Such pump performance should prove adequate for a Hydro-Scopic™ mining prototype’s jet stream ability to disintegrate placer substrate while facilitating eductor coupling (as a multi-level rod array) motive power. Further, Hydro-Scopic™ mining will be combining acoustic energy to the traditional Goulds’ centrifugal pump baseline pressure, which should produce multiple enhanced mining effects. This includes sonic pulsing, which should generate added mining power based on established research including production of acoustic resonance of water flow with sonic rod activation, further facilitated by a frustrum-shaped transition rod. A one-way valve system isolates the pump from the acoustic energy.
The Fact Is...
There is an underlying strategic and tactical design to the Hydro-Scopic™ mining process based on existing mining short-comings and supportive mining research, which are well documented in the literature.
Hydro-Scopic™ mining should create a hydrocyclone-like process in the mining cavity (which has features similar to a hybridized trommeling process separating slurry material by density and other qualities) that essentially, using fluid dynamics and jetting excavation, begin stratifying slurry layers by inertial and gravitational forces within the mining cavity – slurry cleaning and initial density separation is the ‘first classifier’ step in substrate extraction recovery initiated during excavation. Different slurry layers develop, separating by features of movement, shape and density, some flowing faster that move higher and are more inner centralized layers of slurry as compared to slower and lower outer layers.
The Fact Is...
Using Hydro-Scopic™ mining – multiple classifying steps of slurry should occur before the light slurry even leaves the mining cavity.
More specifically regarding classification within the cavity and annulus, just as heavy material gravitates downward, the lighter suspended material of all sizes can potentially be forced upwards (vortexing) into proximity of the cavity’s ceiling ‘intake annular space’ which presents a classifying step in slurry extraction recovery. The annulus intake size and its continuous conduit dimension to the surface is constantly changing in its radial dimensionality as the rod rotates, pulses and moves up and down within the stable casing and below it. The continuous annular space basically doesn’t get smaller than approximately 2 inches (allowing for a sonic pulse fluctuation of about 1/8”). The annular space can completely close at points of contact between the rod string and the casing string, resulting in an opening up of an adjacent radial space to a 4 inch diameter passage. Using the eductor rule-of-thumb ratio of 1:3 for bridging, design preference is for gravel in the slurry to move through an annulus, which is three times larger than the preferred particulate, like through a 2 inch diameter eductor discharge conduit, passing upwards gravel with a 0.5” – 0.75” minus size. Larger gravel will tend to bridge the annulus and be crushed in the process. Generally speaking, anything much larger than the preferred size should either get crushed inside the space to a more preferred size for movement up through the annulus or lose inertia and fall out of the intake back into the cavity for further degradation within the cavity. Lighter suspended material is relatively less dense and less wearing on the rod and casing, as compared to heavier gravel remaining in the cavity, as the lighter suspended slurry material is reduced to proper shape and size with extraction to the surface processor. Slurry that passes through the annulus to the surface is engaged by the surface processor’s grinder providing another classifying step, so on and so forth with surface processing directed to specific mining recovery objectives, including de-watering for water recycling back to the high-pressure and high-volume centrifugal pump, through a water filtration process (bone char/zeolite) designed to remove contaminants like natural mercury.
The Fact Is...
So, Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s concept for achieving profitable borehole placer mining initially stratifies slurry layers into generally heavier and lighter material layers within the mining cavity. As a result two general tiers of recovery are created: 1) core barrel extraction of heavy concentrates from the sump, and 2) surface processor extraction through the annulus. Unlike a conventional borehole mining cavity’s floor-oriented eductor pump intake/s (with an unreliable backwash function that can’t always manage unpredictable placer-related boulder blockages), Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s discharge annulus intake doesn’t encounter boulders on the ceiling, and even if it did (e.g. resulting from a cave-in), boulders should only be an issue for a short period as the excavating jets are moved to the immediate proximity or additional casing is used. Boulders and debris piles need to be effectively dealt with when mining deep placer — they are the challenge that stops current traditional in situ borehole methods from extracting placer deposits reliably. Even if the cavity ceiling caves in, which isn’t likely due to stabilizing hydrostatic equilibrium, Hydro-Scopic™ mining has several options, including multiple system’s apparatus configurations and variable methods, which includes extension of the casing deeper to work from below upwards.
The Fact Is...
Problematic, deep, rich, placer deposits present untouched opportunities for this modern in situ mining approach — Hydro-Scopic™ mining is designed to meet modern challenges of resource recovery and reap the benefits for mining crews, communities, industries and others.
* Note: just one example demonstrating Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s increased efficiency potential involves reducing water’s motive stream resistance in the jetting rod string. This is achieved by decreasing friction/drag between the rod’s internal surface and the water column using “sonic/acoustic” resonance before it reaches the nozzles. The effect is considered similar to what occurs externally to the sonic rod where “sonically” decreased ground resistance allows for faster drilling penetration. Thus, greater efficiency should be achieved (i.e. as demonstrated by sonic flow augmentation of flow and video recorded showing ‘proof of concept’) by generating less resistance to water flow internally allowing more net-energy to be transferred through the rod string to the nozzle jet stream flux as compared to using a non-resonated jetting system. More energy transferred means more work is done by Hydro-Scopic™ mining per energy unit used.
** Note: regarding the Beta Unit configuration, it is an exploration-dedicated Hydro-Scopic™ mining configuration of a sonic core drilling rig, whereas the Alpha Unit is a jet-mining/processing plant configuration of a sonic core drilling rig. Configuration apparatus, which designate unit type, are adaptable and attachable to a sonic core drilling rig having a site-complimentary processor. A dedicated Beta Unit crew can be assigned to assess recoverable resource cost/benefit, including local community response, at multiple potential mining sites to optimize Alpha Unit deployment.
*** Note: regarding potential seismic mapping application of the Hydro-Scopic™ mining’s exploratory Beta Unit– the Beta Unit’s proposed sonic mining system’s geophysical mapping ability can elevate “level of confidence” in a mining site’s potential to a higher level of timely and economic reliability – augmenting site logistics and planning for subsequent Alpha Unit subsurface mining. Empirical site investigation will initially use the sonic head as a hydraulic actuator of a seismic wave source. A working unit will result in a low-frequency energy wave being emitted from the sonic underground assembly positioned hundreds of feet apart in relation to three or more other boreholes (i.e. a receiver array containing hydrophones) and a data receiver. Resultant refractory, reflective and other wave data may be recorded, analyzed and correlated with a core sampling profile analysis using existing technology to provide a 3-D subsurface geographic and geophysical representation for optimized subsurface target acquisition and logistical planning. This seismic tool, along with other Hydro-Scopic™ mining sonic innovations, can result in modern borehole mining operations trending towards new boundaries of mining profitability and resource recovery.
**** How is a ‘batea’ design relevant to this topic?
A batea (known also in early 1900s as a Mexican gold pan), is a gold pan shaped like a cone with its point (apex) down. It is a design found, to one degree or another around the world, used for panning gold and precious stones. It functions somewhat differently than an American gold pan to separate gold from slurry. American gold pans work primarily by a back-and-forth agitating motion, settling the heavier material out of a slurry mix by gravitational and inertial forces, primarily. The operation of a batea on the other hand is different and probably more similar to what Hydro-Scopic™ mining is designed to do, though Hydro-Scopic™ mining will certainly function using features of both types of gold pans. It has been noted by many references that the batea design is more efficient than the American gold pan design and that American pans are becoming more like bateas to become more efficient. The batea apparently works like a primitive hydrocyclone creating a central vortex as a result of manually turning/spinning the pan, which conical shape decreases velocity (and increases pressure consistent with the Bernoulli Principle) with a smaller radius of curvature of the side’s surface that progressively decreases the further down the pan towards the apex, peaking its pressure effect at its bottom apex — thereby generating a centralized vortex effect that flushes less-dense material upwardly, whereby the less-dense material overflows out of the pan.
In other words, the Bernoulli Principle essentially states that a decrease in fluid velocity is associated with an increase in fluid pressure. It is a principle used in many machines, including a centrifugal pump where the stator section of the casing slows down the fluid’s rate of flow after being accelerated by the impeller, converting rotational kinetic energy into the hydrodynamic energy of increased fluid flow.
In the case of the batea, rotational energy comes from manually spinning the pan. In Hydro-Scopic™ mining rotational energy comes from the circulating jetted streams of water. The sides of the pan, like the sides of the mining cavity, diffuse velocity energy into pressure, generating pressure differential zones/layers. So, ideally, by manually turning the pan (generating frictional, inertial and centrifugal forces upon the pan’s contents) the slurry’s heavier material is forced outwardly and progressively downward to the batea’s apex where fluid pressure peaks to lift lighter (less-dense) material upwardly following a central vortex path upwards to overflow out of the conical pan at the surface — making for an effective hands-on way to stratify gold-bearing gravel. This demonstrates, to some degree, how Hydro-Scopic™ mining is designed to work — by generating a higher, upwardly moving and more centrally oriented layer of lighter suspended material into a high, centrally oriented “vortex slurry extraction” annulus in the ceiling (oriented above the apex-like sump) of the mining cavity. High-pressure rotating jets intersect the upward spiraling vortex, possibly magnifying the effect of both the excavating jets and the vortex effect, while simultaneously using the excavating jets to generate enhanced spiraling and turbulence of the general slurry mass within the mining cavity, thereby facilitating concentration of denser slurry at the bottom apex, the sump gold trap. So, a conical batea is an established, ubiquitous, efficient slurry stratifying panning design, probably of ancient origin and tested through the ages (possibly by Solomon himself, Ecclesiastes 1:9 “… there is nothing new under the sun.”) The batea design supports modern technological advancements that reapply concepts already known to work, which in the case of placer borehole mining, describes Hydro-Scopic™ mining.
The Fact Is...
Currently much more than a proof-of-concept, Hydro-Scopic™ mining is the key to ‘green’ mining many known but untouched rich placer deposits, with vast potential for valuable resource recovery — no other similar business opportunity currently exists.