Stochastic Mine Planning Optimization: New concepts, Major Applications and Value in an Increasingly Uncertain Market
Conventional approaches to estimating reserves and optimizing mine planning and production forecasting result in single, often biased forecasts. This is largely due to the non-linear propagation of errors in understanding orebody attributes from a limited finite number of drilling data, throughout the chain of mine planning and mining. A new mine planning paradign is considered herein to include two interacting and potentially fusing elements: stochastic simulation and stochastic optimization. These two elements provide an expanded mathematical framework that allows the modelling of orebody uncertainty and its direct integration to mine design, production planning and valuation of mining projects and operations. This stochastic framework has shown to increase the value of production schedules in the order of 25%. In addition, case studies show that stochastic optimal pit limits are about 15% larger in terms of total tonnage, compared to the conventional (deterministic) optimal pit limits. This difference extends life of mine and adds approximately 10% of net present value (NPV) to the NPV reported above from stochastic production scheduling within the conventionally optimal pit limits. Furthermore, results suggest a potential new contribution to the sustainable utilization of natural resources.