Research

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Floating solar panels
Floating solar panels invented by Dr. Moe Momayez and commercialized through RePower LLC.

Extraordinary Expertise

Experts from diverse disciplines come together at the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources to forge game changing solutions critically important to modern mineral resources management.

The collective expertise at the University Arizona produces new discoveries and technologies to support and advance all aspects of the mining industry – with new isotopes for geochronology… fundamental understanding of ore deposit formation… mineral liberation analysis…advanced separation technology… rock softening to save energy... autonomous vehicles… gaming software for safety training... gray water for mineral flotation… integrated operations centers… mine reclamation science.

These specialists are integrating previously separate segments of mining and improving management across the entire value chain – from mineral identification and extraction, to processing and distributing metals for a global market, through safe and efficient workforce development and responsible reclamation. This gives us the best-practice big picture.

Our IT backbones, business- intelligence solutions, data-mining expertise and safety research – coupled with new tools for geology, geomechanics, rock-face sensing, fragmentation analysis, processing technologies that save water and energy, and sustainability indicators – allow us to simulate operations and find ways to improve safe production and decrease costs. This is the new face of mining.

Research Portfolio

The projects in the Lowell Institute cross 27 different disciplines and 10 colleges at the University of Arizona.  Many are in collaboration with colleagues at other universities around the world.

Thematic Areas

Lowell Program in Economic Geology (LPEG)

Mark Barton and Eric Seedorff

Deposit-to-District-Scale Studies

  • field-based, worldwide, cordilleran settings
  • hydrothermal systems, magmatic to basinal

Regional 4D Transects

  • field and lab-based new observations and synthesis
  • Nevada Au(Cu), Laramide Cu(Mo), Chile Cu(Au-Fe)
  • basis for consortium

Topical Themes

  • mineralogy and trace element geochemistry
  • structural geology, especially extensional settings
  • hydrothermal geochemistry, alteration, fluids
  • arc evolution and crustal mass transfer

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Environment

Raina Maier, Mary Poulton, Jim Field, and Julie Nielsen

  • Phytostabilization of Mine Tailings in Arid Environments Metal Speciation in Arid Mine Tailings
  • Rosemont Revegetation – Planning Ahead
  • Binational Copper Mine Tailings Native Plant Inventory Project
  • Mine Site Revegetation
  • Fate and speciation of metal(oids)
  • Groundwater protection
  • Dust characterization and wind modeling
  • 4D autonomous environmental monitoring systems

UA Superfund Research Program 

Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining

Processing and Extractive Metallurgy

Brent Hisky, Jaeheon Lee, Jinhong Zhang, Isabel Barton

  • Silver Hydrometallurgy
  • Leaching with Lead Nitrate (Pb(NO3)2)
  • Acantite (Ag2S) and other silver sulfides leaching
  • Leaching behavior in anaerobic  conditions
  • Bioleaching – mesophiles and extreme thermophiles
  • Alternative Lixiviants –Thiosulfate, Thiocyanate, Thiourea
  • Intensive and silver cyanidation
  • LIX and amine extractants
  • Ammonia leaching
  • Rare Earths
  • Re-use of mine tailings
  • Atomic force microscopy for flotation optimization
  • Geometallurgy – ore characterization, mineralogy

Mine Intelligence Research Group

Sean Dessureault, Victor Tenorio

  • control room technology
  • financial modeling
  • process optimization
  • mine to mill optimization
  • automation
  • data mining

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Geomechanics

John Kemeny, Kwangmin Kim, Moe Momayez

  • Weaken rock to lower energy cost for grinding and increase drilling rates 10-100x
  • Track energy cost by block unit in mines to optimize energy use and cost
  • Mine to mill optimization
  • Improved blast optimization and slope stability
  • 4D data collection for slope stability, use of drones

Mineralogy

Bob Downs

  • Project RRUFF - database of Raman spectra for all minerals

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Mining Health and Safety

Mary Poulton, Eric Lutz, Jeff Burgess, Moe Momayez

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Law

John Lacy, Mary Poulton, Brent White, James Anaya

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Social Science

Diane Austin

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