The Jaguar project is relatively unique in that it was evaluated, financed, built and operated to completion within the last ten years, providing the opportunity to holistically review and reconcile expectations against the actual outcomes. It is a case study that allows wider conclusions to be drawn with respect to the risks and opportunities involved with project evaluation and execution.
Jaguar is located in the Leonora Mining District of Western Australia and was commissioned in mid-2007 as an underground accessed, single high-grade volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VHMS) deposit with an on-site concentrator, producing copper and zinc concentrates exported via the Port of Geraldton to South-East Asian markets.
The feasibility study (FS) had several iterations (JML, 2005a); the last dated July 2005 was specifically targeted to secure project funding, and summarised the reserves-only portion of the resource and its planned exploitation. The commissioning of the mine was the transition for the owner Jabiru Metals NL from junior explorer to producer and the project was the dominant asset of the company.
Jaguar operated through several significant deviations from the linear project plan set out in the FS, including the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), a corporate takeover and disruption to the mine plan from the onset of material geotechnical issues. Whilst the GFC or mining disruption were not specifically predicted in the FS or peer reviews, the generic effects of the events were assessed in the project risk assessment and they influenced subsequent management decisions. In parallel to the internal project-specific risks, the short planned life of Jaguar was a risk to the continuation of the corporate entity which was being addressed by significant investment into brownfields exploration to extend or replicate the project, and ultimately added value such that attracted a corporate takeover.
Holistically, the project delivered the returns predicted in the FS, but in a much different guise than was expected. This paper will describe the reality of operations compared with the study predictions and expectations through the perspective of the project and corporate risk assessment.
Jacobs, R, 2016. Jaguar base metals project case study – has reality reflected the study?, in Proceedings Project Evaluation 2016, pp 86–97 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).