Evolution development

Maptek Evolution continues to add value to operations through dynamic and flexible scheduling functionality.

Since the initial application of the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm for computing ultimate pit limits, research has continued on solving challenging problems in open pit mining, particularly mine production scheduling.

Determining the sequence in which blocks should be removed from a pit over the lifespan of a mine while maximising net present value of the mining operation is critical.

Maptek Evolution is an agile, dynamic solution for targeting complex, real world challenges. It delivers systematic production schedules along with a practical development plan. Evolution is intelligent enough to concurrently consider multiple objectives, so there is no need to aggregate data.

Evolution architecture and optimisation engines are being applied to the in-development Evolution Epoch short term scheduling solution. Due for release in early 2017, Epoch will apply haulage and blending optimisation technology for scheduling of stratigraphic and metalliferous mines.

Evolution can easily handle the flexibility required by modern projects, the scale of which is beyond spreadsheet and linear approaches.

  • Evolution benefits include:
    • Increase in value by increasing grade early in the schedule
    • Advanced constraint modelling
    • Blend optimisation constraints
    • Interoperability with Vulcan
    • Integrated haulage and waste landform scheduling
    • Easy setup and quick runtime
    • Reliable, repeatable outcomes

Also due for release in 2017 is Evolution Phase. It answers the universal need for integrated and automated tools to manipulate optimal shells developed in pit optimisation. Users can adjust, split and combine shells and write new stage codes back to the model. These new stages can then be tested to improve NPV while achieving practical mining shapes.

Phase design is critical to the success of schedules. Engineers commonly face complex pit optimisation runs from which it is difficult to get a practical high value schedule.

Simplification involving detailed phase design work takes time. It is relatively easy to generate the ultimate pit shell and corresponding ultimate pit, but what happens between that and the endpoint is a function of shell selection, experience and intuition.

Phase incorporates the design process into the Evolution workflow in a seamless and auditable way. It allows engineers to take outcomes from a pit optimisation run and use them to make valued phase designs based on accumulating and manipulating blocks in 3D.

The result is quick provision of inputs to a scheduler which can pre-qualify whether designs will work from a scheduling perspective, i.e. ore tonnages reached, no peaks in waste stripping and value being maximised.

The engineer can now rapidly iterate between Phase and Evolution Strategy to ensure the schedule works, before moving onto the actual design stages.

The powerful combination of Evolution Phase and Strategy has proved to add significant value to a project. In some cases, more than 20% has been added by applying these two techniques.

While value is an important factor, early cash flow is paramount to mine developers, bankers and shareholders. The ability to defer expensive stripping without compromising the integrity of the overall operation is critical.

Being able to efficiently examine numerous scenarios from the outset ensures future development is based on informed decisions.