Determining the Maximum Present Value of an Open Pit Mining Operation

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
Present value maximisation studies are a useful aid in enhancing the economic performance of open pit mining operations. Maximising present value helps to reduce the risk of financial failure. Maximisation of present value also means that the capital invested is being used most efficiently. A characteristic step in determining the present value of an open pit mining operation is to set out the sequence in which increments of material (ore of various grades and waste rock) are mined. Traditionally, present value maximisation has been performed by selecting a cut-off grade for each increment so as to maximise the present value of the total operation, by an iterative process using computers. Kenneth F Lane has developed a method and applied it to many mining operations. An alternative method for determining the maximum present value of an open pit mining operation is given. In this method the maximum present value is determined by working backwards from the end of the operation life, progressively asking the question of each increment `what cut-off grade maximises the the present value at the start of mining of that increment?' The method allows calculations to be performed by a `spreadsheet' package. Present value determinations are characteristically performed under constant conditions (eg prices, costs) throughout the operation life. Unfortunately real life circumstances are rarely constant, with the costs of mining inputs rising at variable rates. The prices received for mineral products have been shown to broadly trend downwards with time in real terms. Treatment of such changes in the determination of the maximum present value of an operation is discussed.
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