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Mine geology standardisation – providing the foundation to consistent short-term geometallurgical product predictions in a complex multimine and supply chain environment

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Author B L Sommerville

Description

The theme of this International Mining Geology Conference is ‘Setting New Standards’. Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations include a complex integrated supply system to deliver ore from 15 mine operations through four independent terminals over 1700 km of rail line. Significant growth in the past 20 years has seen production grow from 88 Mt in 1997 to 329 Mt for the 2016 calendar year.

With more than 50 years of mining in the Pilbara, Rio Tinto has extensive experience in developing standardised approaches to mine geology and the geometallurgical prediction of product quality to meet the increasing growth profile and business planning complexity.

Rio Tinto’s
standardised approach to mine geology can be developed and utilised on a daily
basis to enable the optimisation of the supply chain in terms of tonnages and
product quality. This experience demonstrates a fully standardised system can
balance the needs of a systematic process across all mine sites and the
flexibility for mine geologist to determine and use local properties at each
mine; this is done by ensuring two key principals are in place:



  • a single, centrally maintained, system is established and maintained,
    providing a common set of processes and software across all mine sites

  • the system allows senior mine geologists to review and customise key
    attributes and product regressions, ensuring site specific data is used in
    product predictions.

The benefits of formal work process and standardisation include health, safety and environment, people and skill development, cost and improved communication. Also product predictions from mine geologists are one of the key inputs into an integrated and dynamic mine to ship scheduling system, optimising the supply chain whilst still managing the product quality. The experience of Rio Tinto is that a standardised approach to mine geology is an enabler of value for the iron ore operations.

CITATION:

Sommerville, B L, 2017. Mine geology standardisation –
providing the foundation to consistent short-term geometallurgical product
predictions in a complex multimine and supply chain environment, in Proceedings
Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 13–20 (The Australasian
Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).