Mine Engineering

MineEngineeringSizedMine planning is the process for mining the right material at the right time to obtain the lowest cost per unit of final product and, thus, fulfilling the business targets of the company. Essentially, mine planning is about deciding what to mine and process, when to do it, and how. It is decision making backed by a variety of engineering and earth science disciplines, economics, facts, and data. Proper planning can mean the difference between profitable or costly operations by avoiding waste, tracking mining costs, and planning for market demand. These details are especially critical in the early years of mine production, when a large amount of capital is invested in the equipment.

Improving the Planning Process
Common mine planning decisions are related to determining:

  • reserves versus resources;
  • the constraints, such as water lines, water wells, power lines, the Williamson Act, and agriculture activities;
  • material destination, such as waste disposal;
  • mining methods;
  • mining and processing capacities and rates;
  • production resources and labor pool;
  • ramp and haul-road design;
  • pond fines design and management;
  • development and production sequencing and scheduling; and
  • reclamation and budgeting.

Because sales drive the production for a mining operation, accurate geologic modeling using the latest data will increase the confidence in a mine plan’s ability to meet aggregate quality specifications. Furthermore, optimizing the mine plan enables engineers to accurately predict when a significant investment in new equipment would be required because of upcoming increased overburden volumes and sales volumes.

Optimizing Operation and Production Results
Developing a mine plan by modeling detailed geologic information can improve the plan’s value to mine operations and production. This process will influence decision making in the following areas:

  • reliable forecasts of key production and cost figures for budgeting and forecasting;
  • appropriate management of waste storage and handling;
  • optimized reserve and resource estimates;
  • efficient operations;
  • up-to-date and accurate resource, land, permit, and infrastructure information management;
  • accurate review and reconciliations of production reserves and recovery;
  • decisions regarding major equipment and facility investments;
  • sellable quantities and qualities; and
  • workplace safety and compliance with environmental standards.
  • Reserve assessment
  • Analysis of load and haul fleet studies
  • Development of block models to represent the reserve
  • Schedules for mine planning, pit design, and mass movement
  • Open pit mine design
  • Geologic investigation (design drill program, surface mapping, analysis, and interpretation of drill data)
  • Reclamation cost obligation assessment and planning
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