Performance of Reserve Estimation Techniques in the Presence of Extremely High-grade Samples, Jasper Gold Mine, Saskatchewan
The Jasper Gold mine in northern Saskatchewan produced a total mill feed of 140 127 tonnes at an average grade of 19.0 g/t Au. Both diamond drilling and chip samples from underground workings returned extremely high values, up to 12 851 g/t (375 oz/T) Au over 0.10 meter from a chip sample. In the presence of such extremely high grades, the accurate estimation of reserves is a major problem.
In the first part of this study, production data from the mine were used to evaluate the results of a variety of reserve estimation techniques in this environment. In two out of three cases studied, indicator kriging with assays cut to 342.9 g/t (10 oz/T) gave extremely good results. In the third case, however, indicator kriging gave unacceptable results. Instead, lognormal kriging of uncut data gave the best results.
Secondly, from the same database, a number of drill-hole spacings were simulated, and reserves estimated from the simulations. As may be expected, the results of this analysis show increasingly better results with tighter drill-hole spacing. However, even with a 5 m by 5 m spacing the variation from actual grade was quite large. This is not a systematic under- or over-estimation of grade, rather a random scatter of results.
The results of this study show very clearly the problems of deriving good estimates of reserves when extremely high-grade samples are encountered. There is a high degree of randomness to this data base, so reserve estimation in this situation will remain a high-risk operation.