Mine planning: From strategy to operation to optimization

TFT-admin | January 30, 2020

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By Micah Nehring

Image: Atlas Copco

While mine planners need to design and implement plans that are safe and environmentally sustainable, the biggest factor in the success of a mining operation — what will ultimately determine whether it will proceed through feasibility studies and onto construction and development — is the level of potential profitability.

The drive to exploit a mineral resource such that it adds as much value as possible to the market requires a continual update of the mine plan and the rapid implementation of any value-adding opportunities as they arise.

As commodity price assumptions change, the strategic mine plan should be updated accordingly

The basis for determining this value is embedded in the strategic mine planning process. As inputs, the mine planning process should include non-controllable variables while seeking to leverage the controllable variables to generate maximum value across the life of a mining project.

The non-renewable nature of a mineral resource extraction project calls for a unique aspect to the analysis that is unlike those used in traditional industries.

As orebody knowledge improves, technical and operational parameters and conditions are better understood. And as commodity price assumptions change, the strategic mine plan should be updated accordingly.

EduMine offers a range of online courses that delve into each of the key controllable technical levers for valuation creation as part of the strategic mine planning process and offer key insights into how the operation may gain additional value.

The first of these levers, including Mining Method Selection, Process Route Selection and Scale of Operation levers are discussed in Mine Planning 1 – Strategy.

The Sequence and Scheduling process and the development of a Cut-off Grade Policy are presented in Mine Planning 2 – Operations.

Finally, the Mine Planning 3 – Optimization course outlines common optimization algorithms that have been adopted, as well as some programming techniques that may be used to computerize planning processes.