Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
TOPAL, E.. Early start and late start algorithms to improve the solution time for long-term underground mine production scheduling. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2008, vol.108, n.2, pp. 99-107. ISSN 2411-9717.
Mixed integer programming (MIP) has been used for optimizing production schedules of mines since the 1960s. The major problem in the long-term production scheduling for an entire orebody is that the number of integer variables needed to formulate an MIP model is too large to solve the formulation. This number may reach well over one hundred thousand. To overcome this difficulty, this paper presents two new algorithms to reduce the size of the problem. These algorithms assign an earliest and latest possible start date for each machine placement, eliminating the integer variables that correspond to machine placement before its early start date and after its late start date. A case study based on Kiruna Mine, the second largest underground mine in the world, is summarized in the paper. It shows substantial improvement in the solution time required using the new algorithms. This increased efficiency in the solution time of the MIP model allows it to be applied to Kiruna Mine, with the potential to increase substantially the net present value (NPV) of the project.