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In mining, how we choose to invest capital has a significant influence on the Net Present Value (NPV) of a project. But, it has always been notoriously difficult to project the impact of different capital investment scenarios on the overall value of a project.
At Maptek, we have added new functionality to our Evolution software to help you analyse the impact of capital investment decisions on your project NPV, during schedule optimisation.
Picture this: You are a mine manager and you want to expand production at your project over the next 3 years. You’ve calculated that you need to purchase 6 new haul trucks.
Strategically, it is crucial to analyse truck purchase policies, fluctuating plant capacities and configurations, and infrastructure requirements dynamically – that is during schedule optimisation – to evaluate the mining project in its real world context. The need for this sort of analysis is particularly strong in larger projects with multiple orebodies or several pushbacks, where accessing each stage carries unique capital costs.
And yet, capital investment decisions are often made before schedule optimisation. Why? Usually in order to simplify the planning process.
A simple planning process relies on fewer variables. Fewer variables leaves less room to optimise and therefore less room to find the real value in our schedules. The truth is that at present many companies struggle to calculate the true impact of capital investment decisions.
A 2019 McKinsey & Company report found that only 20% of surveyed mining and metals projects are completed within parameters predicted during feasibility. That means 80% are getting it wrong. – Optimizing mining feasibility studies: The $100 billion opportunity, McKinsey & Company, Mining & Metals, August 2019.
At Maptek we have developed a way to dynamically calculate the impact of capital investment decisions within schedule optimisation in Evolution, our mine scheduling software.
The key difference between Evolution and other schedulers is the genetic algorithm at the heart of the software. Unlike schedulers based on classical methods, Evolution uses non-linear optimisation techniques to maximise the value (NPV) of deposits without simplifying the true complexity of your project.
Evolution imports data from your block model then maximises NPV by optimising your cutoff grade policy according to your choice of input (objective).
Evolution then (takes your choice of inputs and) simultaneously calculates multiple scenarios, across dozens of generations and returns the best result.
As we mentioned above, the process of scheduling large mining operations has always been challenging, due to the complexity involved. Evolution greatly automates this process by optimising key inputs (cutoff grades process/stockpile, mill capacities, trucks, stockpiles etc.) across multiple mining phases. By taking into account the impact of capital investment decisions, Evolution allows you to achieve a more robust analysis of your cutoff grade/blending policies and overall extraction sequence.
To put this into context, let’s use a similar example to the one at the top of the page. You’ve decided to open an additional pushback to increase ore production overall output. It is going to cost you $50 million to develop the new pushback, when should you begin?
Evolution will give you the answer. Once you tell Evolution how much an increase in production will cost, Evolution will tell you the most appropriate year to start, identify when you need to increase your fleet capacity, or replace older trucks, and by how much each period.
In short, Evolution helps you to make the right call to maximise the overall project NPV.
Senior Engineer Mining Solutions
Read more about Evolution and mine scheduling:
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Marketing Manager EMEA
February 28, 2020
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