In-Situ Recovery (ISR) offers a minimally intrusive, eco-friendly, and economically competitive approach to mineral extraction. It’s been proven a successful technique for obtaining uranium, especially from lower-grade deposits that might not warrant conventional open pit or underground mining due to costs. Unlike traditional mining, ISR doesn’t involve open pits, waste dumps, or tailings, making it more environmentally considerate. This method also streamlines the permitting, development, and remediation processes. With ISR, uranium is extracted without disturbing the surface, and once the process is complete, the land is restored to its original state and purpose.
Since its appearance in the 1960s, ISR technology has evolved significantly. Today, it’s a controllable, safe, and benign uranium production method that is highly regulated in the United States Today, ISR accounts for about 70% of global uranium production. Some nations, like Kazakhstan and Australia, still employ strong chemicals like sulfuric acid for extraction. Many companies in the United States opt for a mix of oxygen and sodium bicarbonate in the local groundwater, which extracts uranium with minimal environmental impact and at a near-neutral pH.
ISR was commercially introduced in the uranium sector during the 1970s in the USA, and then applied in many countries over the last 50 years.
ISR allows the extraction of minerals leaving the host rocks ‘in place’. No waste piles, haul trucks, tailings or long-term disturbance.
enCore Energy’s Director, Dr. Dennis Stover, PhD, was awarded several of the first ISR patents in the United States and was instrumental in the technology.
A multiple jurisdictional state and federal regulatory regime ensures that no solution escapes from the ISR area and ground water is protected.
According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission there has never been a drinking water supply contaminated by ISR in the 50 years since its inception.
ISR facilities use less water than conventional mining and return 99% of water used to the aquifer (not used for drinking water or livestock).