Strategic Production Planning - The Economics of Managing Multiple Ore Sources

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Kambalda Nickel Mines (KNM) currently have eight operating underground mines, three on care and maintenance and other orebodies at various stages of development. Each operation differs greatly in scale, ore grade, milling characteristics and cost structure. The optimum number of mines operating at any one time and their level of production, within the constraints of mill blending requirements and overall mill capacity, is the key to maximising profit in a climate of fluctuating nickel price. Cost models are developed for each mining operation which relate ore tonnes mined to total cost per pound of nickel produced from that mine. Aggregating the mine cost models provides a composite cost model for the entire operation. The cost models provide the operating levels necessary for each of the mines and hence Kambalda as a whole, to operate at the lowest cost per pound of nickel produced. However, lowest operating cost does not necessarily lead to maximum profit. The level of nickel price above operating cost can dictate maximum profit positions which are contrary to the lowest cost position. In addition, the decision to temporarily shutdown mines or reopen mines in response to nickel price movements comes at a cost. In considering the optimum operating position, the price of production capacity flexibility needs to be taken into account. This paper describes the process used to assess all these factors in arriving at the optimum operating position for Kambalda Nickel Mines for varying nickel prices. The same methodology can be used by corporate management in managing multiple mine sites as well as mine management managing multiple orebodies or stoping blocks for maximum profit.
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