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Optimising Underground Mining Strategies

Anne-Marie Ebbels
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
First presented: 
AusIMM Project Evaluation Conference

Underground mine scheduling decision-making has been based on production requirements, equipment productivities and the mine planner’s instincts on the best scheduling strategy for the mine to optimise the net present value (NPV) of a project.

In the last few years, innovative software has been developed to optimise underground schedules based on NPV. The schedule optimisation tool (SOT) allows the user to set up scenarios based on grade, metal content, capital and operating costs.

This paper discusses the results of two case studies undertaken using the SOT software to optimise the NPV of the projects.

In each case study, the SOT software has been applied in two ways:

1. Using the original mine planner’s scenario and determining whether the NPV could be improved by changing resource capacities

2. Changing the scheduling goals to determine whether a different mining strategy would have a better NPV outcome.

The outcomes of the case studies demonstrate that the mine layout and design were contributing factors to the overall improvement of the NPV and that SOT has a more noticeable impact on the NPV of projects where less sequence constraints are required, such as geotechnical sequencing and access development.

Feature Author

Anne-Marie Ebbels

Anne-Marie Ebbels is a mining engineer with over 18 years’ experience in mining operations and consultancy in Australia and overseas.  Her expertise includes mine design, scheduling, drill and blast, economic modelling, supervision and contract management.  Anne-Marie has significant practical experience in mine planning and scheduling using 5D Planner and EPS.  Consulting experience includes scoping, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, technical reviews, due diligence, economic modelling and site support.  Anne-Marie has mining experience in open stoping, narrow vein mining, caving and drift and fill mining.  Anne-Marie is a competent person for JORC and NI 43-101 Reporting and has completed numerous Ore Reserve reports for lead-zinc, copper and gold deposits.

Principal Consultant (Mining)
BEng (Mining), Grad Dip (Computer Studies), MAusIMM
SRK Melbourne
SRK North America