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Using scenarios to guide copper exploration targeting strategies

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


I recently presented some of my PhD research at the Curtin Business School Higher Degree by Research Students’ Colloquium. The work was entitled “Using scenarios to guide exploration targeting strategies“. Pleasingly the associated paper won the award for “Best Paper” in the “Management” category.

The presentation makes the point that due to the long lead times in mine exploration and development effective exploration targeting requires an understanding of the future of mining. However, as more and more mines and projects face economic, technical, environmental and social challenges, the characteristics of the mine of the future are ever-more unclear. With the future of the industry seemingly been unpredictable, the research suggests the use of scenarios to develop differing hypotheses about the future of the industry, which may lead to a wider consideration of the possible exploration targeting strategies available.

Four scenarios are developed based on the two main strategic aims of the mining industry – first optimising existing assets; and second, generating new ideas, technologies, innovations, and mineral discoveries. The scenarios are named  Under Siege (struggling to optimise existing assets, and struggling to generate new ideas); Counting House (successfully optimising existing assets, but still struggling to generate new ideas); Crusades (successfully optimising existing assets and generating new ideas); and Peasants’ Revolt (struggling to optimise existing assets, but generating new ideas).

The research concludes that currently no existing mining company, mine, or mine project is sufficiently robust to viable across all scenarios. Thus the industry needs to invest more in long-term innovation and exploration, specifically seeking to generate robust and flexible mines, projects and strategies, otherwise mining companies and the industry as whole may face difficult, make or break, strategic choices.

Using scenarios to guide copper exploration targeting strategies – Sykes – Sep 2015 – Centre for Exploration Targeting / Curtin University / University of Western Australia from John P. Sykes