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Systems-based Exploration & Mine Project Development and Mining Geology

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Conferences, Exploration, Mining, PhD, Publications, Technical Paper Reviews


Last week I was proud to present a paper at the AusIMM & AIG Ninth International Mining Geology Conference with a paper entitled “Resources vs Reserves: Towards a Systems-based understanding of Exploration and Mine Project Development and the Role of the Mining Geologist”. The abstract is included below, as well as a link to the presentation. A copy of the paper can be purchased from the AusIMM:

Resources versus Reserves – Sykes & Trench – Aug 2014 – Centre For Exploration Targeting / Curtin University / University of Western Australia from John Sykes

“World-class mine projects are increasingly failing to become world-class mines. Non-technical, socio-political and environmental problems seem, in part, to be the cause. However, the intangible and qualitative nature of these problems means overcoming them will require a greater systemic understanding of how the various technical and non-technical factors interact. This is particularly important as the concept of sustainable development has changed the industry paradigm sufficiently that it is no longer clear what world-class means. Finally, this better systemic understanding of mine projects needs communicating back to the exploration sector to improve exploration targeting.

However, a disconnect between the exploration and mining sectors and between geologists and mining’s other professional disciplines means this is currently not possible. The use of economic evaluation techniques to assess the risk and value presented by the various technical and nontechnical factors can assist with this by giving the varied professions a common language and
including inputs from all disciplines. This paper therefore suggests a theoretical framework for analysing the various technical and non-technical factors, particularly the most challenging intangible and qualitative ones, and incorporating them into the typical economic evaluation techniques used in the mining industry.

Understanding the risk and value relating to both technical and non-technical risks, however, places a greater emphasis on mining geologists to be conversant with a wide range of disciplines. Mining geologists will have to develop three types of knowledge: [1] focused; [2] inter-disciplinary; and [3] broad.

In addition, they will have to become systemic thinkers to connect these types of knowledge. This multidisciplinary approach will require the use of fundamental critical thinking skills, common sense, intuition, experience and quantitative modelling techniques, dependent on the situation. As a result, both companies and professional societies, such as the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, will have to develop ways of improving mining geologists’ inter-disciplinary and broad knowledge.”