Underground Mining


Sub-project 2:

Design, implementation and operation of an underground in-situ bioleaching research and testing unit at the "Reiche-Zeche" research and educational mine

May 1ˢᵗ 2014 – April 30ᵗʰ 2018
Responsible professor and other scientist:
Staff on the project:
Students on the project:
Aim of sub-project:
Underground mining operations with their sub-elements prospection, mine design and development, the excavation itself, transport and haulage to the surface and the subsequent metallurgy are highly energy-intensive. In addition, the ecological impact on the surface caused by the metallurgical plant and the tailings is significant. All the accompanying costs are increasing the costs of mining tremendously and thus limiting the number of mineable deposits to only the richest. By cutting the mining costs, a large number of additional ore deposits, especially deposits containing the much-sought after strategical elements, will become feasible for mineral extraction. There are numerous deposits identified in Europe, e.g. the Indium and Germanium deposits within the Freiberg ore district. In situ leaching mining methods generally entail a significant reduction in all sub-elements of underground mining. Thus the development of new bio-hydrometallurgical technologies and methods would also significantly reduce the environmental impact of the traditional methods and technologies applied. On the one hand, the aim of this project is to provide suitable test facilities underground in order to take the development and test results of many other sub-projects to a technical level in a real-live mining environment (e.g. on-site metallurgy underground). On the other hand, a suitable mining technology and method should simultaneously be developed. Therefore, an adequate ore vein block will be developed and mined with the bio-hydrometallurgical in situ leaching technology.
Ongoing work and results:
The Department of Underground Mining Methods deals with the design and implementation of an underground testing facility for microbial in-situ stope leaching in its own “Research and Educational Mine”. The investigation focuses on innovative approaches for leaching technologies by crack initiation due to hydraulic fracturing or water pressure blasting under consideration of leaching kinetics and underground conditions. A testing unit to conduct the comparison the energy input and the metal output of conventional (blasting) as well as the announced innovative technologies. Aim of subproject is to establish an innovative and sustainable method ready for up-scaling.
On site a system of boreholes within the ore body is implemented to investigate the conditioning methods regarding hydraulic linkage of the single feeding and drainage holes. This linkage of the single holes provides streaming and flowpaths for the leaching agent to circulate and furthermore the mineral surface to bring the respective metal into solution.
Publications from sub-project:
  • Schlüter, R.; Mischo, H.: Untersuchung von hydraulischen und sprengtechnischen Konditionierungsmethoden zur in-situ Laugung im Festgestein; 20. Kolloquium Bohr- und Sprengtechnik, Clausthal, Germany, 2017
  • Schlüter, R.; Mischo, H.: Potential and Applications of Underground in situ Bioleaching; Proceedings of the 3rd International Future Mining Conference; AusIMM, Sydney, Australia, 2015
  • Schlüter, R.; Mischo, H.: Innovative Conditioning Approaches for Underground in-situ Bioleaching, Proceedings of the PB-Zn 2015 Conference; GDMB, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2015
  • Schlüter, R.; Mischo, H.: The Biohydrometallurgical Centre for Strategic Elements – A modern Approach of Interdisciplinary Research and Education in a University Environment, Proceedings of the 26th Annual General Meeting & Conference of the Society of Mining Professors; SOMP, Freiberg, Germany, 2015
  • Schlüter, R.; Mischo, H.: In-situ Underground Bioleaching – Novel Conditioning Technologies; SME Annual Meeting and Conference, Denver, CO, USA
Student theses related to sub-project:
Masterthesis S. Winter (2017): Seismische Tomographie am BHMZ Versuchsstand des Lehr- und Forschungsbergwerks „Reiche Zeche“; TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institute of Geophysics
Possible additional student projects:
To be defined.