Can a Risk-Based Evaluation Provide a More Valuable Mine Design?
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In underground mine planning, many potentially value-eroding decisions are made due to a lack of time and proper evaluation practices. The information required for mine planning decisions goes beyond external sources of uncertainty that are recognised by typical evaluation techniques used in the mining industry, to include technical factors (eg mine development layout) and the ability of a mineral extraction project to achieve its anticipated production levels. Due to the individual characteristics that define underground mining projects, each will exhibit a different risk profile, and thus advanced optimisation and evaluation techniques are required to capture this information. As underground mine planning tools become more sophisticated, mine planners have the capacity to investigate numerous mine sequencing options to identify the best strategy for a given project, creating higher value for shareholders. This paper describes a risk-based evaluation methodology (RbEM) that accounts for financial and technical risk in the evaluation of underground mining projects. While the use of the RbEM has been described in previous works, no benchmarking of the benefits that can be realised from a change in those decisions that are made early in the process has been undertaken. To show the benefits that can be achieved from using the RbEM, this paper updates a case study to which the RbEM was applied, and takes a retrospective look at whether additional value would have been gained by following the strategic recommendation of the RbEM versus a typical optimisation exercise that aims to maximise the net present value.
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