Gib Hice (President)
Expertise in technical detail, patent-pending application status, historical and future application of methods and apparatus evolution of Hydro-Mining:
- Tele: (541) 582-3880
- Cell: (541) 291-0529
- Fax: (541) 582-3880
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial engineering expertise in fund raising, project development, mineral rights expansion, public marketing and equity building:
- Tele: (541) 582-0803
- Cell: (541) 621-2657
- Fax: (541) 582-6052
- Email: email@example.com
Doug Devine (Vice President)
Expertise in advanced survey technology in satellite imagery, 3-D modeling, ultra-modern survey technology, and mapping development:
- Tele: (541) 772-5777
- Cell: (541) 944-1708
- Email: DDevine@pacificsurvey.com
FINANCIAL QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT HYDRO-MINING
TECHNICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT HYDRO-MINING / BOREHOLE MINING
FINANCIAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS by Tom Hice
1) Why is Hydro-Mining such a great investment opportunity?
One of the last relatively unexplored frontiers on this planet is a thin layer of the earth’s crust from about 30 feet in depth to a few thousand feet. Large mining companies have drilled a small segment of this frontier to explore the feasibility of mining proven reserves typically in a lode deposit. The cost and time for permitting and proving these reserves is enormous. Any small lode deposit (even though rich in content) is ignored due to economies of scale and almost all placer deposits are ignored due to unpredictability. Here is the opportunity! Hydro-Mining provides the “key” to mine these ignored and unpredictable deposits. It is very fast, very mobile, environmentally sensitive, socially sensitive, and appeals to almost all small miners that wish they could overcome their permitting restrictions and costs to mine at depth. It operates with relative surgical precision so unpredictability is not such a problem and maintains a flexible dynamic to move to a new location in a very short time. This opportunity opens the door to a new level of mining that encapsulates many more untouched properties and several profit centers - not the least is mineral rights on these ignored and unpredictable lode and placer deposits currently almost worthless without Hydro-mining. It is a ground floor investment with many vertical and horizontal business opportunities to capitalize on.
2) So how does the Hydro-Mining process work?
Good mining protocol requires a step feasibility study prior to spending capital setting up a mining operation. This is important even for small operations. Step 1 should involve records research of the history of the area. It is amazing how much historical information is available on mining property. Step 2 involves sampling to delineate a target resource. For surface operations this would involve usually a good crew and some heavy equipment. If other than a surface mining plan involving subterranean targets are being consider, the samples should be drilled. These first two steps are important before any decisions are made to deploy processing equipment and crews to start mining. Without these steps, the mining objectives are based on nothing more than hopeful optimism – usually the case in most small operations with limited funding and the primary reason they fail. Enter the Hydro-Mining process! Step one will be researched by a Hydro-Mining committee prior to making a decision on spending funds to drill for a worthwhile deposit. If the deposit has promise to meet minimum requirements as an inferred mineral resource, step 2 will be implemented and a sonic drill and crew will be deployed to test the prospect. The sonic drill and crew is what we have labeled a Beta Unit. The Beta Unit can be converted to an Alpha Unit (the actual mining rig) upon determination by the Beta Unit that an indicated profitable mineral resource exists with sufficient probable reserves to justify Hydro-Mining. The conversion of a Beta Unit to an Alpha Unit can be an important option as the drilling exploration rig (Beta Unit) transforms into a mining rig by adding ancillary equipment to the Beta Unit to mine the prospect. The prospect then becomes a measured mineral resource with probable reserves and the exploration operation, within a very short time, has transformed into a versatile and dynamic mining operation.
3) How can a property owner or franchise operator own an Alpha Unit and be the miner?
It is obvious that a property owner or any other miner, driller, or interested person probably cannot afford a turnkey Alpha Unit; however, if HERC identifies property using a Beta Unit that meets the minimum criteria for paying off a capital lease of the Alpha unit, then the choice goes to the property owner as to who mines the property and a capital lease will be contracted. If the property owner decides to be the Alpha Unit operator, than a team of his/her choosing will be required to go through training at HERC and upon completion will be given a capital lease for an Alpha Unit with HERC and they will be the miner. If the property owner wishes only a royalty then a franchise team will mine the property. A franchise team can be composed of local area recruits that will be trained to operate the Alpha Unit and they will Hydro-Mine and pay the property owner a royalty while making payments to HERC for the lease. The capital lease transfers Alpha Unit ownership to the lessee, or in this case the property owner or the franchise operator. HERC will designate the property to be mined and supply the drill and all equipment to mine. It is important to note the Alpha Unit will cost the operator nothing other than monthly payments from resources on property that HERC has predrilled and tested with high confidence levels in recovery. This is how real mining should be formulated leaving little unknown when starting the mining process. It is much like selling a fast food franchise except instead of the people (target profit) coming to the business; in Hydro-Mining the Alpha Unit will go to the gold (target profit). For this reason the Alpha Unit is a small very mobile unit that can move to a different target possibly within a few hours if in fact the expected results are not as predicted. For this reason and considering the benefits of minimal operating costs for a small mobile unit like a fast food franchise, the term “Kiosk” mining kind of describes the initial Hydro-Mining process. So HERC becomes the franchisor with Alpha Units the franchise.
4) What does a franchise Alpha Unit cost?
A turnkey Alpha Unit costs $5m payable at $150,000 minimum per month or 50% of the gross recovery per month whichever is greater. Interest is included in the payment at 5% APR. The Alpha Unit will be paid for in 36 months if the minimum is paid monthly for three years. At that time HERC will start receiving an increase in fees or royalty payments on drill production for the life of the drill. Financing terms have been calculated to pay for each Alpha Unit giving the IPO a pretax profit of $1.6m per capital lease on each Alpha Unit. Does this sound great or what? It is not that great! Each Alpha Unit requires lead time to put the equipment together and train the crew to step out on their own and be Hydro-Mining miners. This all requires supervision and decisions as to when, where and who will be an Alpha Unit operator. It is a difficult and sensitive management problem; nevertheless, the franchise capital lease/sales will provide substantial operating funds to expand the operating budget to build equity.
5) Mineral rights acquisitions, the real equity builder?
If capital lease sales of Alpha Units generate $1.6m pretax profit when paying $5m plus interest for the Alpha Unit, the property identified and verified by the Beta Unit needs at least 10,000 ounces of indicated gold resources that can be recovered in 3 years or less. Target subterranean gold deposits need to have 3 grams (1/10 of an ounce) per yard at 100 feet in order to meet this payment criteria based on anticipated efficiency expectations. Of course, at the beginning most assigned property to an Alpha Unit will have a much higher yield in order to get the Alpha Unit paid off early to satisfy tax issues. The point is, without the mineral property and acceptable limits on recovery the Alpha Unit would not be built and leased to an operator. It is not the Alpha Unit that makes the $1.6m in profit, it is the mineral property. Every time a Beta Unit identifies property with indicated reserves of at least 10,000 ounces, that property is worth $1.6m even without the Alpha Unit. So, if 100 properties are identified by Beta Units for prime Hydro-Mining targets with indicated reserves of at least 10,000 ounces in gold per property, then $160m is the value of those properties even without the Alpha Unit mining. You can also have, as an example, another 300 properties not Beta tested but good prospects. HERC expects at least one out of three Beta targets will yield to current Alpha Unit mining making those 300 properties worth another $160m. What if HERC had under contract or claim 1,000 Beta targets giving the Company an implied $480m in value with very little cost. The cost to value ratio on these properties is very small and the probability is very high that one in three will be current Alpha Unit targets. It should be easy to understand that the “Key – Hydro-Mining defined with empirical testing” opens all possibilities and valuations on these properties. Equity in ownership of these mineral rights without Alpha Unit mining can easily exceed $1b in three to five years.
6) Why is cost to value of mineral rights acquisitions so small?
Without a way to extract valuable mineral rights from depths exceeding 30 feet while protecting the environment in doing so, it isn’t going to happen – making subterranean mineral rights almost worthless today. There will be a time after defining Hydro-Mining’s ability, to efficiently and effectively process underground subterranean deposits, that the public will be unaware of the details in the process primarily because they will be proprietary and protected with a high level of security. This is the time to move rapidly for mining rights on any potential claim or mineral rights ownership. Think of oil well property leases that take years to prove. The reason these leases are so easy to make and are not expensive is they change little, if any, of the surface thereby preserving the integrity of the property use – e.g. farm and pasture land. Hydro-Mining is less intrusive than a grasshopper oil pump and traces will disappear shortly after mining making the Hydro-Mining process more likely to be acceptable for little cost on any property with prospects. Thousands of square miles can be contracted, optioned or claimed for this kind of property in a few short years with little investment. Alaska alone has more than 100,000 square miles (1,600,000 (40) acre claims) of prospects available to claim at $45/year per claim. One claim at depth can easily yield 10,000 ounces – making this claim worth $1m plus royalties. 1,000 claims Beta tested will be worth $1b. What about 10,000 claims?
7) Do we have to worry about the big mining companies?
No, the big mining companies are not interested in small deposits (something less than a million ounces) that have no real effect on their balance sheet. Furthermore, the fact they think in volume and large deposits creates a flaw in the “kiosk” guidelines for efficient Hydro-Mining which would violate the necessity for quick mobility to a different site if profit margins have changed to where fixed costs are not being paid. Consider a “kiosk” Hydro-Mining site where profit margins are doing as expected at 5 grams per yard at 150 feet when gold is paying $1,000 per ounce. What if the price of gold drops to $500 per ounce? The “kiosk” operation then would move rapidly to property that was paying 10 grams per yard at 150 feet or 7 grams at 75 feet. The point is that “kiosk” Hydro-Mining has a great advantage in its compact and mobile character and can adjust for most variables to maintain profit margins to pay fixed costs. Big mining companies on the other hand are rigid in their set up and negative changes to operations are not easily corrected. A real good example of this rigid problem is in the oil fracking business where profit margins have fallen due to the Middle East flooding the oil markets with oil to drop the price. Since it is not easy to move a fracking well to a better producing well, the oil fracking business is in serious trouble. Hydro-Mining, on the hand, is designed to operate on a small target rich resource with dynamics to rapidly accommodate many changes in profitability.
8) How about competition?
It is inevitable that someone will build a better mouse trap than the Beta and Alpha Units HERC will be using. Patents will slow this process but if profit is on the table and the oil industry is looking to diversify, a better Hydro-Mining unit will surface. The question is, can they catch up with the mineral rights inventory HERC will control? If not, HERC will welcome their more efficient Units to drill the Company’s mineral rights for a royalty. Can they also offer free Beta Testing to owners and finance a franchise program for owner and franchise operators? Maybe so, but the Company will still have substantial mineral rights inventory with value. In fact, a more efficient Hydro-Mining Unit will increase the value of the mineral rights holdings. It is also possible that the competition may place an offer on HERC’s patents which will be considerable because the offer acceptance will provide more funds to acquire more mineral rights – i.e. where the value is. In any case, the goals in this business design will welcome competition in most cases.
9) Are you an Investor with vision?
A few years ago the thought of mining gold on the moon was more science fiction than realty. More recently the reality of mining the moon has become an economic possibility. It seems that high concentrations of rare earth elements, helium-3 (used for non-radioactive fusion reactors) and other minerals difficult to mine here on earth have excited some governments and private companies. So much so that NASA in 2014 announced it was accepting applications for lunar prospecting robots. Even Canada has developed an in-situ extraterrestrial prospecting drill and rover vehicle for a proposed lunar prospecting mission in 2018. SpaceX is working on reducing costs for space exploration; or, is it for lunar resource extraction? In any case, mining the moon is certainly a target for dreams of energy independence and technology advancement by those of us who have vision of what could be with cheaper and more abundant resources, human ingenuity, and the picture of a probable future with those resources. Space may be the last frontier, but at what cost and is it light-years away? The next to the last frontier, here and now, is the oceans and a relatively unknown thin layer of the earth’s crust just a few meters below where we live. Although exploration and development of this thin layer has yielded fossil fuels much needed for our society and at an environmental cost, mining has yielded very little due to extraordinary destructive environmental costs – e.g. open pit mining and heap leaching. It is time, however, to decide about rare earths, minerals and gold that we, as the United States of America (USA), need desperately to preserve our future with improved technology and energy independence while protecting the environment for the younger generation. China, Russia, and others have strategic resources the USA has depleted or cannot mine due to environmental costs which should be of great concern to everyone. Should the USA go for the moon or develop Hydro-Mining for immediate access to resources in short supply? The answer is yes in both cases. The moon offers helium-3 for non-radioactive fusion reactors and Hydro-Mining offers resources for increased production for a myriad of other necessities – like energy efficient vehicles now limited to availability of a rare earth element. Hydro-Mining begins with drilling like responsible mining operations practice. It then converts the drill and prospect hole into a mining operation for the subterranean resource without further environmental destruction. It must be a small operation to preserve efficiency and will use operators (owner or franchise) that are independent and not employees – miners like their forefathers in the gold rush days who believed in working hard to get rich. The mining property and mineral rights will be monitored and controlled by HERC as stewards for environmental preservation since HERC will retain ownership of the resource. The design of this model has rapid growth limited only by the surface and ocean area of this planet. The patents will secure HERC’s right to Hydro-Mine without legal interruption. Beyond profitability with Hydro-Mining is another realm of financial opportunities. Can you see the possibilities of investing $4m or $5m in this down to earth adventure? It is a fantastic opportunity especially compared to moon mining.
TECHNICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS by Gib Hice
10) Is Hydro-Mining the same thing as borehole mining?
Essentially, borehole mining comprises a variety of mining techniques used to recover resources from a deep subsurface deposit through one or more drill holes with the crews and heavy equipment remaining on the surface. Borehole mining describes a general category of mining comprised of many various mining techniques and technologies, including processes that recover oil, uranium sands and gold. Some borehole mining processes are more economically effective than others. Hydro-Mining is a new type of borehole mining that is designed to mine placer and other deposit-types for gold, platinum and gemstones – it's patented system and methods are designed to direct high-energy pulsed water jets to both excavate and recover subsurface mineral targets using a single borehole in a cost-effective manner and with minimal ecological impact. Hydro-Mining provides a relatively simple but technologically advanced new type of borehole mining design to achieve mobility, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and environmental responsibility allowing for the recovery of currently un-minable rich resources -- that other types of borehole mining and traditional mining methods cannot cost-effectively recover. Please see “button” on home page for access to Dr. George Savanick’s article that clarifies the historical significance and some research highlights regarding general borehole mining techniques.
11) How effective is borehole mining?
Effectiveness can be quantitatively established in that it is relatively goal-oriented, e.g. a car is an effective form of transportation requiring fuel and having speed limitation, “effectiveness” being a function of having enough measurable fuel and time to “effectively” achieve a transport task. Likewise, borehole mining is an effective process for subsurface mining. The oil drilling companies have shown this to be true -- borehole mining of oil has revealed itself to be a very cost-effective and lucrative process. This is because the efficiencies in borehole mining of oil are success-oriented towards optimizing effort, process and time -- recovering a marketable fluid commodity where the effective economic feasibility of recovery can often be accurately estimated per borehole mining site before mining. This generally has not proven to be the case with borehole mining of other less fluidic resources. This is because the effectiveness of existing technology and methodology involving borehole mining criteria at other types of mining sites, e.g. deep subsurface placer gold and platinum deposits, are often more variable (i.e. even somewhat dimensionless) presenting undefinable challenges to current established technology. So, though it’s possible to mine such sites using current borehole mining methods, such mining methods are much less predictable and as a result are generally much less cost-effective compared to more traditional gold mining methods, e.g. open-pit mining and shafting. One thing that has been consistently demonstrated, however, is that borehole mining’s ecologic impact is less when compared to similar traditional production operations, though often still not cost-effective enough to override other budget challenges. Borehole mining of placer gold has proven itself to be generally effective and eco-friendly, but the question is -- can it be cost-effective?
12) Can borehole mining of placer gold deposits be cost-effective?
Currently, if borehole mining of gold placer deposits was cost-effective, the gold mining industry would be using it to mine known placer gold deposits, which it isn’t doing even with the value of gold being substantial. Also there exist many known placer gold deposits that would give up their vast bounty of gold to an effective and efficient borehole mining process, if it were available. It soon will be. A new process, Hydro-Mining, has now been designed around and utilizes the proven capabilities of the sonic core drilling rig with modifications to address the problems that have prevented borehole mining of placer gold and other valuable resources from being cost-effective to mine. The new Hydro-Mining process combines two energy systems within and below a single cased borehole to efficiently generate a more effective single borehole mining excavation and recovery process, as compared to more conventional borehole mining practices. Hydraulic, jetting, acoustic resonance and gravity forces are integrated to improve efficiencies in a relatively simple but technologically advanced borehole mining process that provides the answer of how to be more predictably cost-effective when mining placer gold in variable conditions – borehole mining can be cost-effective and much more using the Hydro-Mining system and methods. In water usage alone (which is a huge cost-driver) borehole mining has been shown to use 1/10th the amount of water required by comparable surface placer mining methods. Hydro-Mining, as an advanced borehole mining process, should use even less water than other borehole mining systems.
13) What is a single cased borehole?
Essentially a drill rig drills a hole (also called a borehole), which can be several inches to several feet in diameter and hundreds of feet deep, or deeper. A liner (also called a casing), which is often made of steel, is placed into the borehole to maintain its structural integrity, preventing collapse of the sides of the borehole. In Hydro-Mining, the deposit excavation is done below the bottom end of the tubular casing in a single borehole, beginning in an uncased section of the borehole extending deeper and wider as the mining process proceeds to excavate and recover the target material using a specialized jetting rod apparatus passing through the casing. The proposed borehole casing diameter is about 9 inches for Hydro-mining a 300 foot deep deposit.
14) Why are the energy systems in Hydro-Mining combined?
Mechanical and acoustical energy systems are combined in Hydro-Mining to increase overall work efficiency of water moving in jetting streams. The Hydro-Mining system essentially acts as a transducer, thereby generating amplified pressurized pulsing jets, potentially using less fuel and less time to do more work resulting in a more productive mining operation (as compared to more conventional borehole mining systems). The concept of combining energy systems has been successfully demonstrated indicating that fluid flow modifications occur as a result of water passing through an acoustically actuated sonic rod, attached to the sonic head of a sonic drill rig. Decreasing flow resistance and generating a pulsing jet stream can both increase efficiency of a jet mining system.
15) Why is a sonic drill rig necessary, can’t any drill rig be used?
No, not cost-effectively like a sonic drill rig. A sonic drill rig produces acoustic energy which is an energy system needed for transforming the Hydro-Mining borehole mining operation into a different and more efficient process as compared to more conventional borehole mining systems. The sonic drill rig is also known and proven to be one of the fastest core drilling rigs, has minimal seismic footprint and creates very little environmental impact being probably the least intrusive of all types of drill rigs on land. The sonic drill rig is also designed to retrieve stuck rods and drilling equipment from boreholes, further minimizing potential costs. No other drill rig type has the performance features of the sonic drill rig, which are fully utilized to make the Hydro-Mining borehole mining process cost-effective and efficient in multiple ways.
16) How does Hydro-Mining a placer deposit recover big gold nuggets up through a borehole hundreds-of-feet deep?
Recovering large gold nuggets is largely a function of efficiently removing slurry-suspended gold flakes, dirt, sand and gravel from the excavation cavity before removing the sump trap containing heavy concentrate, including big nuggets. Simply, the Hydro-Mining process first creates a borehole with a sump trap, using the bottom of the uncased section of borehole to act as the sump trap. Secondly, highly energized pulsed water jets are delivered through a specialized rod system passing through the cased borehole and into the deeper uncased section of borehole. At a specific depth, where a deposit of gold has been discovered, the deposit is jetted through the rod system into a swirling mixture of water and solids called “slurry.” While still underground, the deposit material is broken up, disaggregated and washed within a high-intensity hydraulic vortex, where the expanding excavation cavity acts like a trommel that separates material into density layers. Thirdly, the lighter material in the slurry is hydraulically lifted to the surface where a surface processor separates the water, gravel and small gold. Simultaneously the big gold nuggets are deposited by hydraulic and gravity forces into the sump trap at the bottom of the borehole, from where they are periodically recovered using a core barrel of the sonic drill rig that can pick up the concentrated sump material like a core sample, using multiple different means and bit attachments. The proposed prototype uses a core barrel with a diameter of approximately 8 inches, so gold nuggets as large as about 8 inches in diameter can be recovered as whole nuggets by the prototype. The system is scale-able allowing for larger nuggets to be recovered using larger equipment. The prototype is designed to be a mobile “compact unit” that can mine big nuggets, flour gold and everything between.
17) How do you know where to mine using the Hydro-Mining process?
Deep core sampling and proper site resource assessment will primarily determine where to mine using Hydro-Mining. A potential mining site’s economic value needs to be carefully evaluated in multiple ways before mining, which is part of what the Hydro-Mining process can do well. The Hydro-Mining process is designed to be a total process combining the abilities of two complimentary sonic drill rig configurations, a Beta Unit (assessment) and Alpha Unit (recovery) to ensure mining site success. Initially a deep underground rich mineral (e.g. gold) deposit will be discovered and analyzed for mining and processing by a Beta Unit configuration, ideally including multiple capabilities like seismic mapping, core-drill sampling and bulk sampling with jetting apparatus/mini-processing. The Beta Unit configuration is an exploration-dedicated Hydro-Mining package attached to a sonic core drilling rig, whereas the Alpha Unit is a dedicated jet-mining/processing plant configuration integrated around a sonic core drilling rig. Configuration apparatus can be adapted and interchangeable on a single sonic core drilling rig or between different sonic rigs. An example of proposed specific apparatus for improving pre-mining site analysis, logistics and planning is -- seismic mapping apparatus. The proposed seismic mapping application of the Hydro-Mining’s exploratory Beta Unit configuration is based on using the rig’s sonic head as a low-frequency hydraulic actuator, which becomes the seismic wave source for a complimentary receiver array. Resultant seismic wave data can be recorded, analyzed and correlated with a site’s core and bulk sampling profile to provide a 3-D subsurface geographic and geophysical representation to optimize analysis of a subsurface target for mining using an Alpha Unit configuration, in a relatively short time frame.
18) What about big boulders?
Boulders do not present a significant problem for the Hydro-Mining process. They can actually help the trommel effect in the excavating cavity by moving around for better breakage and cleaning of slurry material. Also if a boulder sits on the sump trap entrance it is simply broken up by the jetting drill bit or drilled through to recover contents of the sump trap. Boulders should not trap the specialized jetting rod system or core barrel because one function of the sonic core drill rig is to remove equipment that is stuck, using its acoustic energy.
19) What about too much water being a problem?
The Hydro-Mining process uses water, recirculates water for jetting use and can filter water of toxic substances. For a small rich gold deposit hundreds of feet deep it should not require a lot of water to recover the deposit, which can be transported to and from the mining site. It can be a closed mining system in the desert supplying its own water or in a swamp. Hydro-Mining can also be performed from a platform supported by caissons or ice on a bay or lake. Unlike fracking the Hydro-Mining process seals cracks in the sides of the excavating cavity as it works by using particles of slurry or other natural substances to bridge cracks, working to maintain clean water as part of the Hydro-Mining process at the mining site. Research has shown that ground water has generally not been impacted by borehole mining of subsurface mineral deposits using water. The Hydro-Mining system clarifies water by separating out the gravel initially and can also filter the recycled water of toxic substances that can be safely disposed per land-use regulations. Water issues should not be problematic as demonstrated by prior independent and extensive research experience by others using borehole mining and sonic drilling rigs. Further, Hydro-mining sites can be back-filled using clean gravel after excavation and can be easily capped like a well, thereby preventing excessive surface water from contaminating the subsurface excavation site and water table.
20) If Hydro-Mining is cost-effective, why hasn’t someone come up with the process before now?
The effort to find a solution has been on-going for years. Hydro-Mining at this point is only partially complete towards being a proven concept and feasible design. A working prototype has not yet been assembled and tested. An important aspect of the prototype design, the “proof of concept” of low-frequency sonically generated pulsing, has however been experimentally and empirically demonstrated. A major component of Hydro-Mining, the sonic core drilling rig, has been systematically proven by the drilling industry for years. Also, many surface processor designs (i.e. part of the surface separation process) have been proven to effectively separate water, gravel and valuable materials using wet gravity, magnetic, ultrasonic and electrostatic methods for years. But the working prototype of the Hydro-Mining apparatus with its equipment, including patent-pending designs and methods, has yet to be assembled and proven as a whole system, though it is well within the limits of present-day technology to do so. Why no one until now has put the “pieces” together to achieve efficient and cost-effective borehole mining to recover gold and other precious materials proving and using this system and methods is not known. The new system is simple in its design and application using advanced technology without highly complex tooling, and based on actual knowledge of real mining and drilling problems. It may have to do with the cost of a sonic core drilling rig and equipment, which is considerable, but so are the benefits of converting a sonic core drilling rig into a cost-effective mining machine that can mine vast untouched rich gold deposits. Not presuming to be on the same level of importance as the Wright brothers’ flight in 1903, who successfully accomplished the first powered flight transportation of a man taking off and landing without damage, Hydro-Mining’s time has now come as a new type of borehole mining for the modern age, a system that is ecologically friendly, cost-effective, efficient and timely as the United States is looking for better ways to recover needed and critical natural resources. Why others haven’t previously discovered this process can only be conjectured upon – the inventors only know that we have been blessed with the vision to make this happen now. It is the inventors’ intention to assemble a prototype process and deploy it to a known mining site that is rich with gold, which is otherwise not mine-able using traditional methods because of regulations protecting habitat — but that do not restrict the eco-friendly Hydro-Mining closed system of borehole mining. Such sites have already been located.
21) How much material can a Hydro-Mining process recover in one hour?
It is estimated based on prior research with borehole mining operations that between 15 to 50 yards (i.e. ~1.5 to 5 dump-truck loads) of material per hour should be reasonably mined from a deposit 300 feet deep through a 9 inch diameter borehole using Hydro-Mining. Various conditions will affect the production rate, including size of drill rig and ground composition. With prior borehole mining projects, jetting the cavity wasn’t the issue as much as recovery of all the slurry to the surface. Hydro-Mining is an inventive system and method that separates the slurry into lighter and heavier density components, using different steps to remove the different components from deep deposits.
22) What good is having a patent, since the prototype has not yet been proven?
Protection against competition is provided currently while the prototype is in the process of being developed and for the future. Extensive utility patent applications have been submitted by the inventors/patent attorney to the USPTO consisting of both apparatus and methods utility applications with multiple claims regarding the Hydro-Mining process. These patent applications protect both the value of the predicted new mining process as well as just about everything connected to that process, so that the process can be developed without antagonistic legal competition developing the same process. The prototype needs to be assembled and proven. Research has been compiled, existing components integrated by theory have also been discussed with consultants, a “proof of concept” has been demonstrated showing sonically generated low-frequency pulsed water flow augmentation – all and more support the probability that such a Hydro-Mining prototype can be assembled and can produce cost-effective borehole mining results. With empirical prototype testing and modifications the efficiencies of the various systems can be seamlessly integrated and deployed as a working prototype and then additional units will be manufactured. Having had an extensive existing patents review by a patent attorney it was determined that the Hydro-Mining apparatus and methods are potentially new in that they essentially transform a sonic core drilling machine into a sonic mining machine using new methods and apparatus to achieve new mining results – never before done or described as indicated by the review. Should these patent applications, in part or in full, be found acceptable by the USPTO it is conceivable that their mining industrial patent value will be very significant. Having these patent applications on file until that time of proprietary determination will also prevent others, i.e. copycats, from declaring proprietary rights during that time without the risk of suffering significant punitive damages when our proprietary rights are fully established. Such patents can also protect any valued business development associated with deployment of the unique Hydro-Mining apparatus to high-value properties never before mined during the period of Hydro-Mining development, allowing the advantages of a first-to-market status.
23) How long will it take to assemble a working prototype process?
It is estimated that establishing a cost-effective working Hydro-Mining unit and trained crew on a mining site should take from about 6 months to a year, from the date of funding. Since major components of the equipment can be immediately available, depending on the market, this time frame can be short. However, the sonic core drilling rig and the primary pump may require special order status that could require 3-5 months to manufacture a specific component, e.g. a pump, if for some reason it is not immediately available. Support equipment, such as the surface processing unit, will need to either be assembled or built on the test site and should require only a few months. Empirical testing of apparatus and process may require several months since several components will require 3-D manufacturing and will undoubtedly require some modification to optimize preliminary designs. Crew training should require approximately 6-8 weeks, since the sonic core drilling rigs are very user-friendly.
24) Why can’t a sonic drill rig be purchased with rods having an added jet nozzle attached to a pump to mine the same way that Hydro-Mining does – what is so special about the Hydro-Mining process?
Aside from the issue of possible patent infringement, since both apparatus and methods patent applications have been filed covering extensive claims regarding a sonic drill rig transformed into a sonic mining machine, the question addresses the ability of a “copy-cat” to achieve similar effectiveness and efficiency of the new Hydro-Mining process by putting together a few pieces of the process. Although simplicity is the essence of the new Hydro-Mining borehole mining process, it is a technology-based process based on experience in drilling and gold mining. For example, for simplicity there is only one moving part, the rod string attached to the sonic drill head to which is attached the patent-pending apparatus and the core barrel that work through a single borehole. The apparatus components are specially designed and constructed to meet operational parameters for excavation and recovery simultaneously in a very efficient and specific manner using water jets with multiple applications. Other borehole mining operations in the past and currently have used various apparatus and multiple methods, including very complex tools with moving parts including valves, jets, grinders and pumps that fit down usually a big borehole, often requiring a significant amount of time to drill, or have multiple boreholes in use to extract target material using various pumping mechanisms. Hydro-Mining uses apparatus (patent-pending) that promote efficient excavation and lift of material, both through the annulus space and also from a sump trap. It is not unusual for traditional borehole mining techniques to provide significant jetting power for excavation of a subsurface cavity, but recovery of the generated slurry becomes the problematic bottleneck of the operation. The problems generated by such processes are often associated with extracting the slurry material to the surface, with blockage of intakes, caving incidents with loss of equipment and an enormous budget for time and effort to minimize risk. The Hydro-Mining process, in comparison, is designed as a fundamentally simple solution mitigating those problems, with a new type of eductor apparatus, bottom-hole assembly and complimentary methods -- (patent-pending) that can provide more effectiveness for less cost and much lower risk. No longer is mining in a gold-rich boulder field at 300 feet deep a problem that imminently makes the effort too dangerous and costly. The Hydro-Mining process is designed to mine in such areas, safely and with respect for the eco-system – efficiently and effectively to recover untouched rich natural resource deposits. Simply using a sonic drill rig with a rod string and jets will not be successful in accomplishing such a task.
25) How is Hydro-Mining similar to a human circulatory system?
Hydro-Mining is in part analogous to and mimics a human circulatory system in that it’s a process using a moderately high pressure/high volume pump (i.e. heart) that functions to establish a baseline system’s static pressure, similar to the diastolic pressure (or lower number) displayed by a blood pressure monitor, but in the order of 1000psi with 400 gals/min of re-circulated jetted water that is pumped down into the ground (e.g. empirical metrics for borehole mining). Additionally, an energizing wave-pulsing component (i.e. heart pumping action) is integrated into the system using the oscillating head of a sonic drill rig that increases the static pressure in wave pulses, like the higher systolic number displayed by a blood pressure monitor. Similar to an arterial vessel, an elastic rod (e.g. ~4 inch diameter) string that is attached to a sonic drill head is inserted into a cased borehole (e.g. ~9 inch diameter) where at its lower end (perhaps hundreds of feet deep) a water-jetting apparatus pulses out bolts of clean water that disintegrate a mineral deposit thereby forming a mining cavity filled with slurry (solution of dirty water and gravel). Energy is transferred from the pump and the sonic drill’s oscillating head into energized bolts of jetted water for mining work. Excavation transforms clean water into dynamic slurry containing gold and gravel. Water, having spent its jetting energy in excavation, is then pushed up to the surface as slurry carrying light suspended gravel through the space between the pulsing rods and a static casing structure, similar to venous blood returning to the heart. The water is cleaned on the surface and reused by the pump. Heavy elements, like big nuggets, that cannot be lifted remain in the cavity sump trap for later recovery. Slurry circulates through a surface processor (i.e. kidney/liver) where gravel and floating gold are separated from the water; the water is filtered and is re-circulated again for jetting work underground with the process repeating itself -- similar to blood's cyclic process of being cleaned, renewed and reused.
26) How is Hydro-Mining similar to gold panning?
The Hydro-Mining has operational components analogous to using a gold pan where the heavy material and gold gravitates to the bottom of a gold pan and the lighter material is removed. The Hydro-Mining process similarly gravitates heavy gold downward trapping heavy slurry elements (i.e. gold nuggets) in a sump trap centered at the bottom of the mining cavity. The sump trap material is easily recovered periodically as a concentrated core to the surface by employing a sonic core barrel. Much like when using a gold pan, where gravel is cleaned and separated in the pan by agitating and swirling the gold pan contents, Hydro-Mining scrubs and breaks down gravel components using strong torrential vortices and water jets in the mining cavity, effectively cleaning gravel like using an underground trommel or tumbler. Just as lighter suspended material is forced out of a gold pan to better expose the gold concentrated on the bottom of the pan, in Hydro-Mining such light slurry is forced upwards to the surface where water and elements are separated using a dedicated processor, recycling water. In a gold pan, lighter material is washed out of the pan where valuable suspended gold can be lost; in Hydro-Mining even the lighter suspended material is processed, which is one distinct difference. Another difference is that large stones or boulders can be left in the mining cavity without interfering with gold recovery.
27) How is Hydro-Mining and an LED light bulb alike?
To begin with, improved efficiency. Even though both Hydro-Mining and an LED (light emitting diode) light bulb can have higher upfront costs as compared to their competition, it’s important to note that projected energy efficiency and improved performance parameters can more than make up for the extra cost, in both short and long terms. Generally speaking, just as the modern LED is about 6 times more energy efficient at generating visible light than an incandescent light bulb, Hydro-Mining can also be anticipated to be more efficient as compared to traditional borehole mining practices in both homogeneous and nonhomogeneous substrates. In fact, traditional borehole mining processes (i.e. generating continuous jet stream rock stress) are limited to work profitably within very specific working parameters (with relatively homogeneous targets) making traditional borehole mining an almost unknown mining process because such conditions are relatively rare. However, substantial research has validated the idea that a properly designed placer-adaptable “in situ” borehole mining process holds vast economic mining promise for excavation, safety and environmental preservation. Hydro-Mining is designed to make the promise a reality with its comparatively improved working performance parameters.
Hydro-Mining’s design employs technologically-advanced and innovative mining system improvements, which includes reducing water flow resistance through its mining circuit. Hydro-mining energy can be better utilized and integrated into more efficient mining practices, simultaneously multi-tasking more cost-effective excavation and extraction of slurry from a subsurface deposit. Hydro-Mining’s design should perform where traditional methods of borehole mining are less effective through applying new methods with its technologically-proven sonic head, smart pump, acoustic waves, wave guides, guide vanes and nozzles. For example, sonically jetted pulses of water can potentially fracture/disaggregate a target deposit with more effectiveness than conventional borehole mining’s continuous flow system designs; thereby increasing slurry production using less water and in less time. Such pulsing jets also facilitate slurry extraction using a manifold of innovative eductor couplings that help lift slurry from the mining site.
Hydro-Mining’s concept at its core is based upon the use of a sophisticated sonic drilling machine that transforms into a high-tech mining machine. By design it is adapted to perform efficient placer discovery and recovery capabilities, in addition to having site adaptability, improved safety parameters, while maintaining responsible environmental preservation.
So, why is mining efficiency important? For lots of reasons, but regarding our fragile world -- with mining placer gold as with lighting a house, the more efficient a system becomes the more energy is saved with less net pollution generated. As a result greenhouse emissions can be reduced along with other critical costs while providing benefits (e.g. improved safety, job security, increased profit, increased resource availability to markets), that can help create a brighter future for a world facing desperate challenges – realities that are becoming more imminent by the minute. Hydro-Mining can be part of the solution, like an LED.
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