The quality and quantity of information on consultants’ websites is a constant variable and a never-ending source of amazement and amusement. It is nice when one can be nice about what you see—for so often the fast-forward or escape button clicks in before the mind.

Smith Williams Consultants is totally unknown to me—so what I say from here on is prompted only by what I see on their website—no more, no less. Their site gives more information about the basic steps involved in heap leach design and construction than any other I have come across in compiling the relaunch of this page. I recommend it.

In fairness there are other consultants who can design and close your heap leach pad—it’s just that they don’t put as much about their capabilities on their websites. At the expense of plagiarism, here is an edit of some of their information that gives a good overview of the main activities involved in designing and constructing a heap leach pad.

  • Heap Leach Pad Design. All components of a heap leach facility must be considered from cost, construction, operational, and environmental standpoints, including geotechnical, hydrologic, and hydro geologic principles.
  • Geotechnical. The foundation conditions are carefully evaluated to ensure stability of the heap. Geomembrane liners normally have relatively low friction coefficients in contact with low-permeability and fined-grained soil layers. This interface must be carefully evaluated for each project based on site-specific conditions. Protective and/or drainage layers are evaluated to ensure that adequate protection is provided for the geomembrane and to ensure that solution is consistently recovered from the heap even as the height of the heap increases.
  • Water Balance. Water balances (must consider) site-specific production rates, loading schedules, leach solution application rates, meteorological data, and solution processing rates to determine required process solution containment volumes, treatment requirements, and/or pond sizing requirements.
  • Solution Handling Systems. We have completed designs for heap leach facilities that have external solution storage ponds and for valley-leach facilities that have storage within the heap. We have designed multiple solution collection and recovery systems in a variety of climates. Our most recent experience includes design of buried solution collection piping systems that minimize environmental exposure and allow for easier operation of the facilities.
  • Surface Water and Storm Water Diversion. (This includes design of) geosynthetic clay liners, synthetic liners, grouted and standard riprap erosion protection, concrete culverts, CMP culverts, multi-plate culverts, sediment control, energy dissipation structures, and reinforced concrete channels and associated structures.
  • Construction Quality Assurance and Construction Oversight. Specifications and quality manuals are utilized to define procedures, methods, and test frequencies. CQA/CQC tasks are carefully planned and monitored to ensure full compliance with regulatory agency requirements. When required, fully equipped field laboratories are set up on project sites. All CQA/CQC activities are fully documented, as necessary, and the final construction report includes a complete record of all activities and compliance with construction methods and materials, technical specifications, drawings, and permit requirements.