SustainabilityApril 29, 2024

Maximizing mining value with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform revolutionizes mining processes by leveraging cloud-based simulations to optimize reserves, enhance profitability, and ensure long-term sustainability.
Avatar Josh LEE

By Ralph Smith, GEOVIA Sales Expert – Management Director, Dassault Systèmes

Traditionally, mining processes were manual, with strategic planning conducted by engineers across various disciplines using Excel while managing data in silos. The Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform leverages the existing mining engine to introduce a cloud-based simulation layer on top of it to democratize data.

The platform integrates and automates mining processes, dismantles silos and enables executives to focus on higher-value areas and optimized geotechnical, economic, productivity and ESG parameters. The optimization ensures positive cash flow or net present value (NPV) while adhering to sustainability and compliance goals.

Offering a comprehensive, multidimensional risk overview, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform exceeds traditional manual planning methods. Miners can run thousands of simultaneous simulations across different sensitivities and scenarios, testing multiple inputs for a more efficient and comprehensive planning approach.

Automation via the 3DEXPERIENCE platform increases transparency in strategic mine planning. Simulations reveal the effects of variables and help adapt strategies for the present and future challenges, addressing issues such as price variations, supply chain interruptions, rising fuel costs and ESG to secure immediate cash flow and long-term profitability.

Three case studies illustrate how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables miners to pursue value continuously.

Optimizing reserves and strategic mine planning

A greenfield mine in the Asia-Pacific region mines 72 thousand tons of copper and gold ore per day. The challenge was pinpointing the optimal mining footprint by evaluating various production and development rate scenarios, aiming to align reserves with ideal mine size, production targets, and development rates.

The overall goal was sustainable results, optimizing key economic indicators such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and capital expenses within the strategic mine plan.

Using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the company managed to optimize reserves across different cutoff levels, deprioritizing lower-value areas to focus on higher-value regions earlier in the project, thus securing faster and more assured cash flow.

The company refined their strategies by simulating diverse production plans, incorporating varying inputs alongside different development rates and production targets. They conducted 500 realistic simulations within just 16 hours, which increased the NPV by 35 percent over the base case.

They also identified several high-potential production and development rate scenarios as attractive alternatives, significantly benefiting the bottom line and enhancing the long-term sustainability of the strategic mining plan.

Solving multi-pit challenges

For a greenfield open pit mine mining between 62 to 100 million tons per annum of copper and gold, the challenge was to boost the operation’s viability and strengthen confidence in its long-term potential.

The project included three mines sharing a single process system. Early on, it was crucial for the company to identify optimal reserves and establish mine-friendly design phases. Determining the best production scale for each mine and pinpointing the optimal pre-stripping investment were key challenges. A critical task was also finding the most suitable location for the processing plant and maximizing the NPV of the strategic mine plan for the entire mining complex.

By leveraging the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the company effectively navigated these challenges, identifying the best phases and production scales by considering all cost options, including capital and operational expenses, along with pre-stripping investments. The platform also facilitated the identification of the optimal plant location.

By analyzing 75,000 simulations over just five weeks, the company achieved a 42% increase in NPV compared to the base scenario, significantly enhancing the bottom line and solidifying confidence in the mine’s long-term viability.

Reducing stripping ratio and costs and enhancing NPV

The project involved a brownfield open pit mine that extracts 56 million tons of iron ore in the Asia-Pacific region per annum. The engagement with Dassault Systèmes using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform aimed to increase project potential, enhance decision-making confidence, and evaluate expansion alternatives.

The main challenges included optimizing the planning for two mines sharing a process plant but constrained by transportation methods for concentrates, simplifying phase design, and accurately assessing the impact of enhanced production under varying market conditions. Additionally, resolving production interruptions presented another significant challenge, emphasizing the need for robust operational strategies.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enabled the company to optimize reserves, enhance phasing, and reduce costs. The operation sequence of the two pits was refined, and to decrease the stripping ratio, 30,000 simulations were conducted for multiple inputs within just a month.

Ultimately, the stripping ratio at the first mine was reduced by 16%, and at the second mine by 24%. Cash flow at the second mine increased by 29% to US$146 million, while at the first mine, it increased by 42% to US$85 million. An increase in NPV to US$231 million was also achieved.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is pivotal in running thousands of simulations with limited initial data to establish a solid base case for a bankable feasibility study, delivering accurate and realistic results.

The platform facilitates the simulation of various theoretical scenarios and understanding their potential impacts, and it is essential in dynamically refining the strategic mine plan throughout the project’s life. This approach ensures the project’s short-term profitability and long-term sustainability, aligning with ESG standards.

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