What happened to my gold? Questions to ask
, 2015, Vol. 67, No. 8, pp. 61-66
Jewbali, A.; Elenbaas, T.; Roos, C.
Traditionally within the mining industry, the main functional process flow for resource and reserve evaluation proceeds from geologists who build the geological model, to resource estimation geologists (modelers) who estimate the grades, to mining engineers who develop the mine design and schedule. The interface between these three disciplines is not always seamless. Assumptions made during one stage of the process are not always communicated down the line, even though most mining companies have procedures in place to encourage communication across the various disciplines. These procedures do not always achieve their aim due to a variety of reasons including time constraints, appropriate people not being available, or a lack of understanding of what other disciplines require, and the handover process can degenerate into one of sending computer files on to the next discipline in the process flow. This paper focuses on the interface between the resource estimation and mine engineering disciplines, and outlines some of the common assumptions made when generating a resource model and the risks that engineers may be taking when elevating cutoff grades, optimizing schedules or generating forecasts. The case studies presented focus on openpit gold deposits, but the concepts should be applicable throughout the industry. A summary of key questions and recommendations is provided.