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Several standard texts discuss the role of geology at an operating mine (e.g., McKinstry, 1953; Peters, 1978), and the role of geology within the organizational structure of a mining company. However defined, and whatever the reporting responsibilities, most geologic work at an operating mine usually falls under the general category of “grade control,” and serves as a central source of predictive information to other areas of the operation.

At most mines, the grade control program has three principal goals:

  1. To forecast the grade or physical characteristics of the material to be mined during the next month or year. This is a cooperative effort involving all of the mine staff, and is the first step in preparing the financial projection for the period in question. This function is obviously simply an extension of the estimates prepared in the feasibility stage of the project.

  2. To ensure that the material mined as “ore” is acceptable to the mill and purchaser, and that it is separated during mining from nonprofitable material to the extent possible. Again, this effort requires close cooperation between geological, engineering and operations personnel, and often involves trade-offs from the ideal for any or all of the parties involved.

  3. To supply the operating staff with reasonably accurate outlines of the orebody, so that development work can be laid out in such a way as to make available the maximum amount of ore at the least cost.

Note that the role of the geological staff at an operating mine

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