Accounting For Dilution In Ore Resource Estimation
The full economic evaluation of a mining project requires a block model that provides an estimate of the tons and grades of available resources. The model must be representative of the mineralization to be found at the time of mining for specified extraction periods and within acceptable error margins. In an operating mine, there may be a reasonable understanding and estimates of actual dilution and ore loss. This paper discusses the issue from the perspective of a project at a feasibility or pre-production level of development. Three types of dilution are discussed. Internal dilution (or change of support) is function of the spatial distribution of the mineralization and its relation to the operation’s selectivity. Geologic contact dilution is the unavoidable mixture at contacts or boundaries of material with different geologic characteristics, grades, or metallurgical performance. Operational planned and unplanned dilution should also be considered, sometimes incorporated by factoring the resource model, but more accurately by mimicking the grade control process.
The resource estimation process always carries uncertainty, which is sometimes significant, and usually caused by several factors. These include quantity and quality of drill hole information; quantity and quality of geologic data; grade estimation methodology; dilution and mining recovery factors applied; etc.
A key decision is to whether estimate as accurately as possible the in-situ geologic resource or to estimate the tons and grade of the material to be fed to the processing plant. The geologic modeling and grade estimation methods used are conditioned by this decision.
Recoverable Resources, Dilution