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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


BURKS, S. Case studies of simultaneous mining and mineral processing optimization applied to platinum and nickel operations. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.3, pp.00-00. ISSN 2411-9717.

This paper develops the themes explored by the authors at the Fourth International Platinum Conference1. Optimization techniques can be used to significantly increase the value of mining businesses by enabling better long-term planning decisions. Open pit and underground mine design, mine scheduling, cut-off grade and blending, stockpiling, and the linking of these to flexible elements of the metallurgical recovery processes are all evaluated together. Transport or sale of intermediate products and the requirements of the product metal markets can also be considered. Experience shows that net present value (NPV) can potentially be increased by 5-35 per cent or more, usually even before the expenditure of significant amounts of project capital. The case studies presented include: ► An existing operation with multiple open pits and PGM concentrators linked to offsite downstream processing facilities, and with infrastructure constraints for which the scheduling of current operations and the potential for expansion were investigated ► An existing operation with an integrated portfolio of mines, concentrators, smelter, and refinery, for which the various possible sources of ore for processing were prioritized to match the downstream process plant constraints and the product markets ► An underground operation in Zimbabwe for which the optimum mining width was calculated and expansion plans were evaluated ► An underground mine with many separate mining sections, for which a revised schedule was developed aiming to keep the shaft system and processing plant at capacity with the highest net value material available at any time throughout the life of mine. In the concluding section of the paper, a few brief notes are included suggesting how the strategic recommendations from enterprise optimization studies may be implemented by the owner's team.

Keywords : simultaneous optimization; mining; mineral processing; platinum; nickel.

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