Long Range Mine Planning

My first experience with surface mine planning was in 1988 at the Getchell Mine in north central Nevada.  At that time, most of the software tools were fairly primitive and a long range life of mine plan would take many months to complete.  We still used teams of mining engineers to work on these mine plans and, once completed, updates were few and far between.  The plans developed would be implemented by mine operations and soon the design plan would start to differ from the actual operation.  Still this was an improvement over previous mine plans which were rarely updated and could take over a year to complete (generally by hand).

Over time, a couple of significant events started changing the way mine planning was practiced.  The first was continued improvements in both computer hardware and mine planning software.  As the hardware improved (better graphics, faster processors, less expensive hardware), the software also improved with more functionality.  At the same time, the second event occurred; many experienced mining engineers retired while there was a significant reduction in the number of new mining engineers graduating.  This resulted in a gradual decrease in mining engineers available for long range mine planning.  Companies were often forced to hire less experienced mining engineers to perform the long range mine planning task.  The improvement in software functionality as well as computer hardware capability lessened this problem, but a lack of experienced skilled mine planners continues to this day.

As I experienced these events, it became increasingly apparent to me that developing a consistent method of mine planning was required in order to meet these ongoing demands by industry.  As I worked at various mining operations, I was able to develop an operationally-based system of long range mine planning that ensured fast, economic results and could be quickly rerun to look at numerous ‘what-if’ scenarios.  This mine planning process was developed over the course of nearly 30 years in both mining operations and consulting applications.  The end result is my ‘Practical Mine Planning for Non Stratified Deposits – Specialized Training’ course.

This course focuses on how to determine an economic pit limit, layout and designing of both ultimate and individual pit phases, and economically optimized, operationally-based mine plans.  At the end of the course, students will be able to complete these tasks and apply the principles learned in their own day-to-day work.  Throughout the class, examples of both how and how not to do various mine planning activities will be presented using specific situations that I have encountered throughout my career.  The intent of the class is to provide a fun learning experience for the student and discussion is encouraged along with various real world examples to be worked through.

Click here to register for this training course.

Sam Shoemaker
Senior Mining Consultant
April 10, 2015

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