Estimating Mine Operating Costs - Trials and Tribulations

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
The projection of operating costs for mining, processing, and other site operating costs is an exercise which can be fraught with considerable peril. Not only are the physical characteristics of each mineral property unique, but a range of other factors will influence the consultant's approach to compiling cash flow estimates. This paper details some of the techniques used in estimating operating costs for use in order-of-magnitude cost studies and feasibility studies, and describes how to avoid common areas of difficulty. A series of examples relating to open pit gold mining and processing cost estimates illustrate these problems, and various corrective methods are described. The mining and treatment processes, and their associated cost elements, are followed in sequence of operation from on-going ore delineation through to disposal of the product. In addition the problem of assigning management, administration and overhead costs along with taxation allowances is addressed. Of critical importance is the application or possible misapplication of accrual procedures to the cost elements. In many cases such misapplication can introduce more pronounced errors with projects of short duration, such as the typical open pit/C.I.P. gold operation commenced in the last decade. The importance of providing verification of estimates depending upon the standard of the cost study is also investigated, and opinion is provided upon the minimum levels of verification necessary at various stages. Finally, the amalgamation of the various individual cost elements into a coherent whole is reviewed.
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