Open Pit Mining

The bulk of the world’s mineral production comes from open pit mines which depend on moving large volumes of broken rock to keep unit production costs low. In a business where profit margins depend on cyclical metal prices, it is vital to run an efficient operation based on an optimal mine design and schedule.

Approach

SRK’s team of mine planners all have extensive industry experience gained at world class operations around the globe. This experience allows a rigorous mine planning methodology to be applied to a resource in order to develop a comprehensive life of mine plan and economic model for every type of orebody. The SRK approach, using pit optimisation software, focuses on the determination of optimal pit depth, production rate and cut-off policy. SRK uses industry standard software such as Datamine, Whittle, Minemax, GEMS and Vulcan to carry out technical assignments.

SRK can apply its technical skills to not just new operations, but also expansions and extensions of existing mines. A common assignment is for SRK to review an existing mine and suggest ways to extend its life through cut-backs and optimisation of design, taking account of changes in metal prices or revised geotechnical parameters. SRK mining engineers work very closely with their geotechnical colleagues to find the optimal approach to slope design and management. Often this includes implementation of a slope monitoring system or training of local staff in appropriate logging procedures to expand and improve their knowledge of the orebody.

The SRK team is also experienced in assisting operations with improving their productivity through a variety of improvement initiatives that can be applied. These vary from managing operational aspects such as maintenance and cycle times to technical issues like blast design and mining sequence.

Experience

SRK has a proven track record of optimising and designing open pits in various locations around the world. Recent projects include:

Malanjkhand Copper Mine, India. 10 mt/yr Copper Mine, India. SRK completed an operational review of the mine and recommended improvements which led to a 20% increase in run of mine production. This work was followed by a Whittle pit optimisation and detailed design which extended the life of mine by a further 15 years. A key feature of this study was that SRK managed to persuade the state body in charge of permitting slope designs to adopt a more aggressive international approach which significantly reduced the amount of waste stripping required.

Damang Extension Project, Ghana. 300,000 oz/yr Gold Project, Ghana. When SRK started the assignment this gold mine had one year of production left before closure. A review of the drilling database resulted in the definition of targets for a drilling program which resulted in a further cutback and an extension of the mine life of an additional five years.

Skouries Project, Greece. Large Porphyry Copper Mine, Greece. SRK undertook a feasibility study on this project for a large copper porphyry deposit. The assignment included the determination of the optimal boundary between the open pit and underground operations.

Services

SRK understands that a project must be brought on-line in time and within budget. The SRK team can provide a number of services to mining companies to assist in achieving this. This range of services include:

  • Scoping, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies
  • Reviews of mining methods and technical audits
  • Reviews and re-optimisations of reserves
  • Audits and development of mine designs and schedules
  • Operational Audits and assistance/guidance for implementing improvements
  • Due diligence
  • Competent person reports
  • Project reviews
  • Stock market listing reports

SRK engineers understand that the current or established methods may not always be the most suitable and are on the lookout for new and innovative methods and equipment that may help mining companies lower their costs or increase their efficiencies, both resulting in higher profits.

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