Case Studies Demonstrating Value from Geometallurgy Initiatives

The mining industry is facing some key challenges that provide a compelling case for geometallurgy initiatives. Over the last 30 years, the average grade of Australian ore bodies being mined has halved while the waste removed to access the minerals has more than doubled. In the last eight years, the industry’s energy consumption has increased 70 per cent while multi-factored productivity has fallen 24 per cent. The paper documents a broad range of industry case studies which demonstrate strategies for gaining value from geometallurgy.

The mining industry constantly faces the key questions of how significant ore variability is on mine valuation and how would knowledge of the variability change the mining schedule, mine to mill design and operation. Using case studies the paper describes the methods used for incorporating mineral extraction attributes into orebody models and their technical integration into daily operation as well as mine planning optimisation.

While pit optimisation from a fully attributed geometallurgical model highlights areas of opportunity and risk it is shown that during the scheduling phase of mine planning that significant value can be added. The benefits from these projects included reducing geotechnical and environmental risk, improving mine to mill performance, option analysis and quantified cash flow risk.

There is growing acceptance within the minerals industry that ‘realistically assumed modifying factors’ defined by a competent person/s are not sufficient to mitigate the risk of funding mining ventures. Geometallurgy is moving away from factored ore reserves to data-rich block models providing reliable information for mining, metallurgical and environmental considerations.