Well integrity testing system for in situ leach mining wells
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1988
The US Bureau of Mines investigated technologies for determining the integrity of in situ leach mining wells. A self-contained trailer-mounted well integrity testing system (WITS) was designed and built to enable rapid testing of well casings for leaks as required by environmental regulations. The WITS utilizes two inflatable packers to seal off the entire casing length or any portion thereof. Water pressure is built between the packers to the desired test pressure, and the presence or absence of casing leaks is determined by monitoring the pressure drop between the packers. A winch and steel cable are used to run the packers in and out of the well. The WITS underwent an industry field test at the Irigaray in situ uranium leaching mine near Buffalo, WY. A total of 37 wells with an average depth of 69 m (225 ft) were tested at an average rate of four wells per eight-hour shift with a two-person operating crew. This represents a 75% time savings and an 83% labor savings compared to the rigid-pipe method previously used at the mine, with which a three-person crew tested an average of one well per shift.