One of the primary objectives when optimising a mining complex is to maximise its value for the primary stakeholders. In order to achieve this objective, it is necessary to holistically optimise all aspects of the mining complex, including decisions of when to extract materials from the available sources, how to blend or stockpile these materials and how to best use the available processing streams to satisfy customer demand. Existing methods for global, or holistic, optimisation ignore the compounded effects that risk has on the performance of a mining complex. Over the past decade, several stochastic optimisation approaches have been proposed to integrate various forms of uncertainty into the open pit mine design and production scheduling. These methods, however, are limited in their ability to simultaneously optimise the production schedules for the portfolio of mines, material destination policies, the use of the available processing streams and the various products that are produced at each location of the mining complex.
This paper aims to discuss a new method for the global optimisation of open pit mining complexes with geological uncertainty. The proposed generalised methodology is capable of modelling and holistically optimising mining complexes, including aspects related to production scheduling, blending, stockpiling and non-linear interactions that often occur in practice, but are over-simplified in existing models. Two case studies are discussed to highlight the need for these complex, stochastic optimisers. First, a case study for a nickel laterite blending operation highlights the need to integrate geological uncertainty into the optimisation in order to ensure product quality constraints are respected. Second, a case study for a copper-gold mining complex highlights the added value when simultaneously optimising the production schedule and the stockpiling and treatment of extracted materials.
Goodfellow, R and Dimitrakopoulos, R, 2014. Stochastic
optimisation of mineral value chains – developments and applications for the
global optimisation of mining complexes with uncertainty, in Proceedings
Orebody Modelling and Strategic Mine Planning Symposium 2014 , pp 13–22 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).