Cut off Grade Optimizer Integrating Contaminant Constraints


Sebastián H. Troncoso

Open pit mine planning is normally based on the selection of an economic envelope that has been generated by the Lerchs & Grossman algorithm, which requires individual economic valuation of each block of a geological block model. The selected envelope, usually called Final Pit, is later discretized in pushbacks and benches, which correspond finally to the fractions that the production schedule will allocate in time. This planning methodology has been widely used by the mining industry in countless projects to exploit open-pit mines, however, in many of the deposits can be found some undesirable elements such as arsenic, phosphates, ash among others that tend to reduce the value of elements of economic interest, either by disrupting the processes of concentration or as deemed impurities that affect the quality of the final product. Thus, a fair amount of blending would be required to capture the real value of the ore body. The traditional approach under estimates a block value by penalizing the block value by the amount of contaminant even when at the mine a set of blocks is a mine at a time. This paper proposes a methodology for computing cut off grades over time that would maximize net present value allowing blending that should fulfill a set of metallurgical constraints. Preliminary results show significant increases in value and reserves quantity, questioning the use of fixed cut-off grades in generating a production schedule when blending applies to fulfill a set of geometallurgical constraints. Finally, the model allows the authors to show the importance of having adequate planning tools that will lead to the ability to look at the potential economic value of a mineral deposit.
Keywords: cut-off grade, ore body, open-pit