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The development and future of BHP Billiton’s Western Australian iron ore geological reconciliation system


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Author S J Loach


Geological reconciliation is an indispensable part of BHP Billiton’s Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) operations. Since 2009 our reconciliations have been calculated in a single, centralised sequel-server database. This system draws data from across our operations and calculates a hierarchical sequence of reconciliation factors that span the company from the smallest grade control (GC) block to the whole of WAIO. It then presents the results using sophisticated graphical reporting tools.

The initial motive for developing WAIO’s reconciliation system was to meet corporate compliance and public reporting requirements. The ability to validate our resource and reserve models by comparing their estimates of tonnes and grade with production figures remains the system’s principal function; however, as the system has matured, we have significantly developed its ability to support the improvement of various technical activities within the business. For example, the system can now calculate and report reconciliation factors for different resource classifications, short-term planning models and geometallurgical estimates.

More recently, great emphasis has fallen on the system’s ability to detect and warn of possible geological issues that may pose a risk to either production schedules or product quality. We envisage a future where automated analysis of our large historical data set will enable high-risk conditions within future mine plans to be detected and highlighted.

In all of these ways geological reconciliation plays an important role in contributing to this company’s financial and operational resilience.


Loach, S J, 2017. The development and future of BHP Billiton’s Western Australian iron ore geological reconciliation system, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 415–422 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).