Editor’s note: The Geology and Mining series, edited by Dan Wood and Jeffrey Hedenquist, is designed to introduce early-career professionals and students to a variety of topics in mineral exploration, development, and mining, in order to provide insight into the many ways in which geoscientists contribute to the mineral industry.


Mine planning is the process that determines the way in which an ore deposit will be mined over the life of a mining operation. It necessarily draws on everything that planning engineers believe will determine the ultimate success of the proposed mine and uses as its foundation all of the geology-related data on the deposit. It is both a strategic and a tactical process that first considers a longer-term horizon based on strategic considerations, followed by more detailed shorter-term planning processes, in this order; the latter are the result of tactical considerations.

This structured process may also be referred to as integrated mine planning, and it is driven by a broader corporate strategy or set of objectives. As such, it is much more than the mining engineering section of the mine development process. It has to include inputs from all related disciplines, by combining all of the measured properties of the deposit with mining-associated parameters. This results in the planning process incorporating a significant number of interrelated parameters. If these parameters are not used diligently and accurately or are not well aligned, or if the underlying data are deficient in either quantity or quality, the project or operation is unlikely to achieve its potential, by virtue of failures in the planning process.

Best-practice integrated planning incorporates relevant inputs from all mining-related fields: geology, geotechnical, geochemical, hydrogeological, hydrology, mining operations, minerals processing, marketing of product, waste management, tailings, environmental, social science, mine closure, etc. It includes all interfaces in the business-value driver model, from exploration drill holes to the mine closure plan. The planning process cannot be completed successfully by mining engineers working in isolation from professionals in other key disciplines. Because geology provides the foundation on which the mine plan is built, the quality and accuracy of the geologic data provided to planning teams by exploration geoscientists is crucial.

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