On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.109 n.3 Johannesburg Mar. 2009
'Short-term gain for long-term pain' - how focusing on tactical issues can destroy long-term value
AMC Consultants Pty Ltd, Australia
Maximizing shareholder value has become a common aim for mining companies. This paper discusses the results of a number of studies developing strategic mine plans, covering a wide range of commodities, styles of mineralization, mining methods, and processing facilities, for single and multiple deposits. It has become evident that traditional methods and conventional wisdom often do not in fact achieve these goals. Operating policies at many mines ensure that shareholder value is not maximized. Changing the overall strategy can provide significant value gains.
Typically, the new optimal plan involves a significant increase in the cutoff grade, at least in the earlier years. An increase in the underground development rate or open cut stripping rate is often associated with this, at least in the short term, to establish the new strategy. Cost minimization is found to be counter-productive.
Counter-intuitive plans are often found to be optimal. For example, optimal cutoffs for different parts of an underground mine may be significantly different, even if mineralisation and cost structures are similar. Sub-optimal strategies are also frequently found to have a significantly greater financial risk than optimal lans, which have been found in many cases to be relatively insensitive to changes in major value drivers, such as metal prices.
This paper shows how identifying and then operating within the framework of an optimal strategic plan can have substantial benefits over being continually driven by short-term tactical issues.
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