Mining is inherently a risk-based business and risk governance is an integral part of corporate assurance and business decision-making. Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves are the key assets for a minerals company and senior management/company boards require assurance regarding the likely accuracy of estimated and reported technical information. Reviews and audits improve the level of assurance in the reliability of estimated short-term (grade control) estimates, reconciliation, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves.
Peer reviews and audits contribute not only to governance processes, but also provide valuable technical improvement opportunities, as well as mentoring and professional development guidance to those whose work is being reviewed. Technical review is particularly crucial at a time in the industry when companies are running lean or perhaps inexperienced teams, with limited technical or management oversight.
Despite both industry guidance and some companies’ standards expecting or requiring reviews and/or audits of Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve generation and reporting processes, it is surprising how infrequently or ineffectively these are actually carried out. Examples of governance systems are presented, which include appropriate peer review processes that if effectively applied, can identify shortcomings in technical processes and provide timely correction to prevent, or mitigate against, erroneous outcomes.
Peer reviews are ideally carried out concurrently with the preparation of data, selection of estimation procedures and validation of outputs from Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimation prior to the handover of results between disciplines, or the final reporting of results. Audits, on the other hand, are generally retrospective reviews by independent and/or external reviewers who rate the risks inherent with an already completed process, identifying opportunities for improvements in the future.
This paper outlines the main components of peer reviews and audits, discussing how a combination of these can provide a structured and objective assurance system leading to systematic and disciplined processes to improve the effectiveness of, and confidence in, grade control, reconciliation, Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve risk management, and support good governance.
Noppé, M A, 2017. Improved assurance for Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates and reporting through peer review and auditing, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 143–148 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).