Group for Research in Decision Analysis

New Models for Mine Planning

Nelson V. Morales

Mine Planning is the discipline of Mining Industry that transforms the information on the mineral recourses, mining technology and market into production plans and schedules that maximize the value for the owner. As such, Mine Planning is a complex process and has been divided into several stages starting from the high level (based on rough information), to more operational decisions regarding dispatch of equipment in the mine. Unfortunately, in recent years, it has become clear that this traditional way of planning does not lead to the best results in terms of value or robustness of the plans and scheduling constructed. Indeed, it often happens that the production goals proposed by the long-term decision models cannot be achieved at the operational level, or to do so, the operational cost are higher than expected so, hence impacting the value of the project. This has created an interesting opportunity to introduce new models for determining better production plans and schedules, fueling a number of applications of optimization and operation research techniques in mine planning and related areas.

In this presentation, we introduce the mine planning process and the classic optimization problems considered at the different stages, and present some opportunities for integration of these phases or models that better adapt to each of them, therefore producing plans with higher value and robustness. The models presented are: "BOS2", a model for open-pit short-term mine planning which is currently used in some Copper mines in Chile to assist the construction of the mine plans and scheduling, and "UDESS" an activity-oriented model that integrates the scheduling of extraction and construction in underground mines.