Mine Design and Costs, and Their Impact on Exploration Targets
Jean-michel Rendu, Scott Santti, Phil Hansen, Dan White, 2005. "Mine Design and Costs, and Their Impact on Exploration Targets", Wealth Creation in the Minerals Industry: Integrating Science, Business, and Education, Michael D. Doggett, John R. Parry
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Over the last 20 years, utilization of mineral resources has improved dramatically following changes in mine technology and operating practices, resulting in lower costs and increased productivity. Improved deposit modeling methods, better understanding of geotechnical constraints, optimized mine designs, automated production scheduling, new methods of ore control, progress in the design of blasting, loading, and haulage equipment, and changes in operating practices—all contributed to better utilization of manpower and equipment and significantly lowered production costs. Safety and environmental concerns are an integral part of mine design, construction, operation, and closure. But to reap the benefits of these changes, early understanding of the geologic, geochemical, mineralogical, metallurgical, geotechnical, and hydrological properties of mineralized deposits and surrounding areas is increasingly critical.
Assumptions concerning what makes a viable exploration target must always be challenged. Cutoff grades can be lowered. Large, low-grade deposits, including halos around old mines, are viable exploration targets, and small underground deposits still remain economical to mine. Deeper deposits can be considered. Difficult geotechnical environments can be mined safely. Greater care must be taken in the early definition of the type, quality, and quantity of geologic information, which must be collected before a decision is made to open a new mine. Ore control practices are critical to the success of most operations and require ongoing contributions from mine geologists. Successful closure is dependent on attention being given to geologic input throughout the life of the project. Open communications between geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists, environmental engineers, and operators are more important than ever.