Ore Reserve Calculation

Readdy, Leigh A. ; Bolin, David S. ; Mathieson, Graham ; Kennedy, Bruce
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 22
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION The estimation of ore reserves is a process that begins with the earliest exploration stages on a property and continues throughout any subsequent evaluation and exploitation of the deposit. During exploration and preliminary evaluation, the results of these reserve estimates constitute the basic data for prefeasibility studies and economic analysis. The decision to continue exploration and development or to abandon a prospect is often based upon these studies. During the active life of a mine, reserve computations are continuously revised to assist in development planning, cost and efficiency analyses, quality control, and improvement of extraction and processing methods. Accurate reserve estimates are also required when financing a project, purchasing or selling a property, and for accounting purposes such as depletion and tax calculation. It is important to remember that the reliability of ore reserve estimates varies progressively through time as more and more information becomes available. The lowest order of reliability of estimation of reserves exists at the time of discovery. The maximum level of certainty concerning the ore reserves within a deposit is reached when the deposit is completely mined out. Between these two extremes are variable levels of certainty as to the tonnage and grade of the resource. This is particularly true of that portion of the mineral resource that constitutes the "minable reserve," as this portion is dependent upon economic as well as geological and technological factors. In the following discussion, several of the factors affecting ore reserve computation and some of the commonly used methods of calculation are presented. The first part of the discussion is confined to classical methods of hand calculation utilizing level maps and sections. The second part of the discussion presents an overview of somewhat more sophisticated methods of geostatistics which have been developed within recent Years. Geostatistical methods frequently provide the best ore re- serve estimates for many deposits. However, a digital computer is required for such geostatistically derived estimates due to the number and complexity of the cornputations involved. For many properties the classical nongeostatistical methods are adequate, particularly in the early exploration stages. In fact, it is the author's contention that even at those properties where the geostatistical approach is employed for reserve estimation, the geological and engineering staffs should prepare an estimate by traditional means. This provides an internal audit for the reserves and at the same time requires a continuing close appraisal of geologic problems that influence the presently known geostatistically estimated reserves and production at the mine.
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