OPEN PIT MINE PLANNING: A PRACTICAL OPTIMIZATION AND EVALUATION APPROACH UNDER UNCERTAIN MARKETS
Metal price is among the key variables in the open pit optimization and the economic evaluation process. The common approach to handle metal prices in open pit mine planning is to optimize the ultimate pit and the mining schedules using a fixed, flat metal price. In this respect, metal price is assumed to be known with certainty throughout the entire mine life, which in some cases can reach 80 years. Given the volatile nature of metal markets and the metal price cycles, the conventional pit optimization approach may generate sub-optimized mining plans, which results in either extra costs to mining projects or lost revenues, or both. Long-term operational decisions such as future pit expansions, beyond the currently optimized limits, cannot be handled using the pit optimization approach based on flat metal prices. There is a growing interest in the mining industry to model and manage such market uncertainty in the pit optimization as well as the project evaluations in order to maximize the value of mining operations.
Pits; Metal price; Metal prices; Prices; optimization; copper; mining;