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Setting new standards at Kanmantoo – effective grade control procedures

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Author M Reid and H Arbon

Description

Hillgrove Resources (HGO) commenced open pit mining in 2011 and from 2011 to 2016 the geology team experienced a consistent negative reconciliation between grade control estimated copper (Cu) grade and the mill received grade. For the first four years, despite trialling various grade control strategies, the monthly variance between geology and mill copper grades fluctuated between -5 per cent to -17 per cent Cu metal depending on the style of mineralisation.

In 2015, HGO embarked on various measures which resulted in changes to grade control practices under the advice of consultants. These changes to grade control sampling, estimation and block out practices resulted in six to seven months of consistently poor Mine to Mill reconciliations from -25 per cent to -28 per cent Cu.

In an effort to mitigate these poor reconciliations the geology team reintroduced the preconsultant block out and geology driven grade control methods. Blockout reconciliations from this point emulated those seen originally from -8 per cent to -12 per cent (Cu per cent). Early in 2016 the geology team introduced conditional simulation for grade control as opposed to ordinary kriging to better characterise the grade distribution, introduced separate estimation parameters appropriate for every zone of mineralisation, implemented a maximum profit function to optimise the selection of ore and waste, and retained the geology driven block out processes. Since March 2016 the mine has experienced consecutive months of positive Mine to Mill reconciliations, the first seen in six years. Year to date the expected copper metal is within 1 per cent of mill reconciled copper metal.

This paper will compare the various sampling methods, estimation algorithms and block out procedures from the past six years to arrive at a robust open pit operating procedure applicable for mineralisation with high short scale variability.

CITATION:

Reid, M and Arbon, H, 2017. Setting new standards at Kanmantoo – effective grade control procedures, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 401–408 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).