‘Optimisation’ has become a catchcry among many mining companies looking to tell the market how mining businesses will be improved and shareholder value increased. Consequently, the term ‘optimisation’ has been adopted by many service providers as they look to assist mining companies in achieving their objectives. But the explosion of services and products being offered with the label ‘optimisation’ has created some confusion. Mining companies ask for help in ‘optimising’ and service providers offer their assistance because they have a product that has the word ‘optimisation’ in its title. This is of course an over-simplification, but not by much! The authors’ discussions in recent years with both mining companies and service providers have uncovered a number of very different definitions of optimisation.
This paper provides a framework for identifying the scope and approach of different mining optimisation products and services, particularly the distinction between optimisation of components of the operation and the business as a whole. The different types of business optimisation are discussed, highlighting the failings of the mining industry’s typical approach of strategy selection (as opposed to strategy optimisation). Mining business optimisation is discussed as a wicked problem, with the implication of this on how strategy optimisation models should be used and what the objectives of a business optimisation study should be.
Case studies are also included to illustrate how fully flexible strategy optimisation models have been applied to assist decision-makers understand the impacts of changes in one part of the operation on the whole mining and treatment process, from geological models to the sale of product to customers.
Kahler, D B and Hall, B E, 2016. Strategic decision-making in mining – business optimisation using flexible evaluation models, in Proceedings Project Evaluation 2016, pp 215–225 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).