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Development and Application of Whittle Multi-Mine at Geita Gold Mine, Tanzania

T Joukoff1, D Purdey2 and C Wharton3


ABSTRACT
In the past, life of mine scheduling at Geita Gold Mine, Tanzania, has been a largely manual process involving the optimisation and scheduling of each mine as a separate entity. The scheduling has been a time-consuming process undertaken using spreadsheets. Recent advances in the Whittle software have enabled multiple mines to be optimised and scheduled simultaneously, so that the mining sequence that maximises the NPV (net present value) for the entire set of mines as a whole can be determined. This case study presents the results of the collaboration between Gemcom Africa (Pty) Ltd and Geita Gold Mining Limited to develop and apply the Whittle Multi-Mine module at Geita Gold Mine. It shows how improvements to the NPV of the life of mine schedule were achieved by using Whittle Multi-Mine as a tool to help guide the preferred order of mining. It highlights the contributions from each of the mines to the overall cash flow of the project and investigates the effect of time on the NPVs from each mine. The cost of deferring production from certain mines has become plainly evident, whilst for others there is little impact. Furthermore, Whittle Multi-Mine has identified areas requiring more focus in terms of the life of mine plan.

Once the optimal pit for each mine was decided, pit designs were undertaken, reserves calculated and the entire data set exported to a spreadsheet for manual scheduling. Various guidelines and comparisons between the pits and stages were used to assist with the manual scheduling process, such as strip ratio, profit per tonne milled, cash cost per ounce, profit per ounce and break-even time. This introduced another flaw in the process, where the optimal extraction sequence was not necessarily followed during the manual scheduling process. It became apparent that this trial and error scheduling method was time-consuming and limited the number of alternate life of mine scenarios that could be evaluated. A need for a technique to optimise the extraction sequence in this multiple mine scenario was identified. Such a tool was available as part of the Whittle suite of mine planning software, but was still in its infant stages, requiring rigorous testing on a real life scenario. This paper describes Whittle Multi-Mine and its application at Geita, but first briefly reviews the traditional and widely applied MOBS technique.

INTRODUCTION
Geita Gold Mine is situated in northwest Tanzania, approximately 25 km from the southern shores of Lake Victoria. Historical mining in the area has taken place for many years, with the last major operation being the Geita Underground Mine, which operated from the 1930s through to the 1960s and produced almost 1 Moz of gold. Ongoing small scale mining continues to this day. The modern Geita mine has been operating since mid-1999, with processing of ore commencing in mid-2000. To date, 48 Mbcm of material has been mined from three open pits; 14 Mt of ore, grading 3.8 g/t, has been processed and 1.5 Moz recovered. The current Life of Mine Plan indicates a mine life in excess of ten years and entails the mining of ten individual pits, several of which are multi-stage. Total mining is expected to exceed 320 Mbcm, producing more than 80 Mt of high-grade ore and yielding more than 10 Moz of recovered gold. The open pit mines are operated with conventional techniques using excavators and trucks on flitches up to 3.5 m high. Most material requires blasting, ranging from paddock blasting in soft laterites and oxides, to hard rock blasting in sulfides. Pit optimisation at Geita has been an ongoing process, predominantly undertaken using the NPV Scheduler software, however; from early 2003 Whittle software has been used in parallel. Although techniques to evaluate multiple orebodies have existed for some time (Tulp, 1997), each open pit has been optimised and scheduled as a separate entity rather than consideration given to whole of mine optimisation and scheduling. Estimates of the mill throughput likely to be required from each pit were used to guide the pit life and net present value (NPV) calculation. Since the ore delivery rate required was generally not known until the whole mine schedule was finalised using all the pits, this was obviously a flawed process.
1. 2. 3. MAusIMM, C/- Gemcom Africa (Pty) Ltd, PO Box 411689, Craighall 2024 Gauteng, Republic of South Africa. MAusIMM, C/- MRM Mining Services, PO Box 3193, Halfway House 1685 Gauteng, Republic of South Africa. 66 Rathmullen Quadrant, Doncaster Vic 3108.

MOBS
A technique known as MOBS (Multiple Ore Body Systems, Tulp, 1997) has existed for some time now and has been widely applied in situations where multiple orebody deposits exist in proximity. In short, the technique involves agglomerating block models representing each of these deposits into one super model (Figure 1), and optimising and scheduling using Whittle software. The limitations of this method are described following. To enable the identification of material selected for mining by Whittle from the different deposits, it was necessary to assign unique rock codes that were reflective of the different deposit areas. Furthermore, the rock codes used for Whittle also needed to capture the actual rock type, so that different mining and processing costs could be defined if necessary. This required the assignation of many rock codes and sometimes resulted in the loss of geological definition due to the restriction in the number of codes that could be handled by Whittle. Once the optimisations had been completed and the pit shells generated, it was necessary to cut up the super model results file to separate the individual mines, using the polygon intersection

NORTH PIT MAIN PIT

WEST PIT
SATELLITE 1 SATELLITE 2

FIG 1 - Example super model constructed by merging MOBS in Whittle.

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functionality in Whittle, so that the results could be exported from Whittle back to a general mining package (GMP). This was because the original coordinates of the individual deposits were lost when they were combined into the super model. Issues arose when scheduling MOBS, since it was not possible to control the order that the deposits were mined in without creating complex pit list files with GMPs or by writing scripts with programming packages. Furthermore, it was necessary to ensure that the top surface of all of the models lay on the same Whittle bench level in the combined super model, requiring the user to offset each individual block model so as to create a regular surface over the entire model. This meant that when simulating the mining of a bench in Whittle, the bench was mined from all of the mines in the super model. It was also not possible to have different cut-backs in each mine, nor was it possible to have different final pits per mine. This reduced the effectiveness of the scheduling and did not allow areas of higher value to be deliberately targeted. For more advanced scheduling using the Whittle Milawa scheduling algorithm, it was necessary to stack groups of pit shells, representing the nested pits derived for each mine, for Milawa to work effectively (Figure 2). This was difficult to set up and comparatively inflexible when evaluating many alternate mining sequences. Whilst the technique described above generated results that added value to mining operations; it was tedious and much time was spent on manipulating models and data files, thus limiting the amount of time that could be spent on actually evaluating different scheduling sequences and the consequent impact on NPV.

With Whittle Multi-Mine it is no longer necessary to use rock codes to identify material from different deposits. It is now possible for Whittle model files to carry a mine name, so the issue of running out of rock codes is no longer a problem. This allows greater geological detail to be modelled, leading to increased flexibility and detail when modelling costs, recoveries and slopes in Whittle, if desired. Furthermore, because each model can be associated with a mine name, it is possible to view and export results for individual mines. This reduces the amount of time required to be spent on data manipulation and provides more time to deal with strategic issues. It is possible to optimise all the mines under consideration either simultaneously or individually, because the Whittle model files carry a mine name. The advantage of optimising them together is that the impact of each mine on the combined cash flows of all the mines can be examined and reported. Scheduling with Multi-Mine is now also much more sophisticated than the MOBS technique previously applied. It is possible to vary the mining rates in different mines and also to control when mining can occur in a particular mine. This functionality proved particularly useful at Geita because some of the mines were remote from the processing plant and ore production from these mines was limited by the long distance haulage capacity (Figure 3). Also, due to Geitas environmental commitment to backfilling completed pits to minimise disturbance caused by the construction of waste dumps, some mines were not able to commence until adjacent mines were completed. Furthermore, either of the Fixed Lead or Milawa scheduling algorithms can be applied as described following.

MULTI-MINE
Whittle Multi-Mine provides a much more sophisticated and flexible means of optimising and scheduling in a multiple mine situation, as was proven by its successful application at Geita Gold Mine. The different techniques applied at Geita are described following, using examples (Joukoff and Purdey, 2004) to illustrate the results.
Chipaka

Schematic of Geita Gold Mine


(Not to scale) Matandani Kukuluma

~20 km

~5 km

Geita Hill Pits Nyankanga

Lone Cone Pits

Roberts

~19 km

Legend
Haul Road

Ridge 8

Star/Comet

Pit Plant

FIG 2 - Stacked pit shells to enable Milawa to operate independently on each mine before the development of Whittle Multi-Mine.

FIG 3 - Schematic of Geita Gold Mine.

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Fixed lead
Fixed lead scheduling can operate with or without precedence controls. By establishing mining precedence rules, different orders of mining the individual mines can be simulated, making it possible to investigate which order maximises the NPV to the company. This technique is particularly applicable in situations where only one mine will operate at a time, such as when the mines are very large and where ore control issues can be handled sufficiently by manipulating the mining sequence within each mine, without the need to blend material from different mines. Each mine may have its own process plant and associated infrastructure but logistically, mining equipment may need to move from one mine to another. The order of mines to which equipment moves can be optimised using this functionality. Alternately, when no particular precedence is required and mining can occur simultaneously in all mines following the same bench lead constraints, fixed lead scheduling can also be applied. These two alternate concepts are illustrated in Figure 4. Fixed lead scheduling was tried at Geita but with limited effectiveness because the site wanted to be able to mine from many pits simultaneously, rather than mine them sequentially. Although this was possible as described previously, it was not practical in Geitas case because several of the mines were already in production and operating on different bench levels. Furthermore, within the constraints of the existing cut-back designs at Geita, using fixed lead scheduling did not provide an optimal mill feed schedule. Geita needed to be able to draw material from multiple sources to feed the mill, to meet the appropriate oxide/sulfide blend requirements and also to make better use of the available mill capacity. Greater flexibility was required, and to overcome these issues it was necessary to apply the Milawa algorithm.

2000). Milawa NPV schedules generally mine just enough waste to uncover the ore required to fill the mill and tend to defer waste stripping as much as possible. Logically, this will lead to increased NPVs. However, this waste deferral may result in insufficient ore availability at some time in the schedule, but only if the cut-backs have not been selected appropriately or if the mining capacity is not well matched to the selected cut-backs. The Milawa algorithm in balanced mode provides a solution to this problem by producing a schedule that completely utilises all of the available mining and milling capacity where possible. The general effect of such a schedule is to mine more waste than is needed to uncover the ore necessary to feed the mill, hence bringing costs forward and resulting in a reduced NPV. However, both the mill feed schedule and the total mining schedule will be well balanced. A diagrammatic sketch of a Milawa mining sequence is included in Figure 5.

APPLICATION AT GEITA GOLD MINE, TANZANIA


Geita Gold Mining Limited provided a data set representing nine of the mines planned as at November 2003 (Nyankanga, Lone Cone, Geita Hill, Kukuluma, Matandani, Chipaka, Ridge 8, Star/Comet and Roberts). Each model was exported from a GMP with pre-defined rock types that allowed unique costs and process recoveries to be assigned to each rock type. Although it is possible to model costs in Multi-Mine using a Mine variable, a cost model reflecting the different long distance haulage costs, defined for different rock types, already existed. As well as this, the existing cut-back positions were exported as pit list models, allowing the cut-backs within each mine to be differentiated during subsequent analysis. These pit lists were agglomerated in Whittle to create a results file suitable for use with the Multi-Mine scheduling tools. Some of the required operational constraints have already been described previously in this paper. Before undertaking any further scheduling in Whittle, a baseline schedule was developed with Multi-Mine that mimicked the existing Life of Mine (LoM) Plan as much as possible. This was so that subsequent NPV calculations for alternate mining sequences would be comparable. An iterative process was used in defining this baseline schedule, using modifications to the min/max lead and max benches constraints to force Multi-Mine to mine in a similar sequence and with similar quantities as defined in the LoM Plan. Concurrent with this work in Multi-Mine was the recalculation of the LoM Plan NPV because this included the effects of many cash outflows that were not applicable in pit optimisation. Once the Multi-Mine baseline schedule was constructed, the constraints were selectively relaxed to allow Multi-Mine to begin to optimise the schedule. Alternate orders of mining were tested by simply adjusting the preferred order of mining and the mine start and stop times, and the resultant NPV, ore delivery schedule and total mining schedule evaluated.

Milawa
The majority of the Geita scheduling work in Multi-Mine was undertaken using the Milawa scheduling algorithm. This was because Milawa allowed material to be mined from different mines simultaneously, applying different lead and lag constraints to the different mines (as opposed to fixed lead scheduling, which uses the same lead constraint for each mine). There was a requirement at Geita to limit the maximum highwall height between cut-backs to 150 m, for geotechnical reasons. The maximum vertical advance in each mine was also restricted to either 50 m or 100 m per year, depending on the size of the mine. For this reason it was necessary to define different constraints for different mines and this was easily achieved with Multi-Mine. It would be prudent at this stage to briefly explain the differences between the various Milawa scheduling algorithms. In NPV mode, Milawa will seek to maximise the NPV of the schedule, taking into consideration the number of benches, cut-backs and time periods in the life of the mine (Wharton,

M1

M2

M3

M1

M2

M3

A.

B.

FIG 4 - Diagrammatic representation of two different fixed lead scheduling sequences in Whittle Multi-Mine. A. Mining precedence applies and equipment moves from one mine to another on completion of each mine (Wharton, 2000). B. No mining precedence applies and all mining occurs simultaneously in all mines, following specified bench lag constraints (Wharton, 2000).

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M1

M2

M3

FIG 5 - Diagrammatic sketch of a Milawa mining sequence in Whittle Multi-Mine (Wharton, 2000).

In total, twenty-four different LoM scheduling scenarios for Geita were considered using the Milawa algorithm in conjunction with Multi-Mine. Comparison of the NPV of each of these schedules with the baseline schedule showed that the NPVs ranged from 87 per cent to 103 per cent of the baseline NPV. Whilst a three per cent improvement in NPV may seem small, in Geitas case it represented an increase in NPV in excess of 1500 times the cost of undertaking the Multi-Mine work. An ore schedule representative of the results generated with Multi-Mine is displayed in Figure 6. The most significant difference between the Whittle Multi-Mine results and the existing site LoM Plan was that the Milawa algorithm preferred to mine Star/Comet as early as possible, rather than later in the project life as had been previously scheduled. This gave some indication as to the significance of the Star/Comet mine to the overall project NPV. When run unconstrained, Multi-Mine also preferred to mine Matandani in early years, but this was not a favoured option as the waste from Matandani was planned to be backfilled into the Kukuluma mine. Investigation of the contribution to NPV from each mine for each scheduling scenario helped to determine which mines the overall NPV was most sensitive to. Table 1 contains a representative set of results showing these cash flow contributions for various scenarios. It is clear that for some of the mines changes to the order of mining had little or no effect on their contribution to total NPV, whilst for others the change in contribution to NPV was considerable. The effect of delaying production from any mine can be seen. The cost of deferring Nyankanga is very evident; the NPV contribution being as much as 67 per cent (Scenario 14) or as

little as 46 per cent (Scenario 3). This represents a 21 per cent improvement in cash flow contribution from Nyankanga for Scenario 14 compared with Scenario 3. In fact, in Scenario 3 the NPV from Nyankanga approaches that of worst case mining. As a further example consider Chipaka mine; if this is mined last (Scenario 14) the NPV contribution erodes to just 0.5 per cent, but if it is mined first (Scenario 17), the NPV contribution can be as much as two per cent. However, when considering the NPV of all of the mines concurrently, delaying Chipaka gives the project a better overall NPV. This clearly demonstrated how the order of mining can have a serious impact on the value of the project. It was concluded from all of the scenarios that the NPV was relatively insensitive to changes in the order of mining from the Chipaka, Kukuluma and Ridge 8 mines. This suggested that it was not worthwhile to further optimise the timing of these mines. Conversely, there was substantial gain to be made by optimising the mining sequence from Nyankanga, Geita Hill, Matandani and Star/Comet. For this reason, the order of mining from these mines was the focus for the remainder of the scenarios and yielded higher value schedules. Examination of the bench schedules produced by Whittle Multi-Mine helped to understand how much material was mined from each bench, each cut-back and each mine in each period and hence made it possible to determine whether Multi-Mine was adhering to the required operational constraints. The resultant schedules were both safe and practical. Furthermore, by making comparisons between the benches mined in different scheduling scenarios it was possible to understand where the material was being mined from, and the subsequent contribution of that material to the overall value of the schedule. An example bench schedule is given in Table 2.

CONCLUSIONS
This paper has reviewed the techniques available in Whittle to optimise and schedule multiple orebody models and multiple mines. The application of Whittle Multi-Mine at Geita Gold Mine, Tanzania, has demonstrated how improvements to the NPV of the life of mine schedule were achieved, using Multi-Mine to help optimise the mining sequence. The Milawa algorithm in both NPV and balanced mode was able to guide the order of mining benches from the various cut-backs of the various pits, within the operational constraints at Geita.

MILL FEED SCHEDULE

FIG 6 - Representative ore schedule, Geita Gold Mine case study. Different shades represent different mines.

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TABLE 1
NPV contributions by pit by scenario, Geita Gold Mine case study.
Matan' Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 7 Scenario 14 Scenario 15 Scenario 16 Scenario 17 Scenario 19 Scenario 21 Scenario 23 5% 5% 5% 3% 3% 4% 3% 4% 5% 5% Chipaka 1% 2% 1% 0% 1% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% Geita Hill 17% 28% 17% 16% 18% 17% 16% 18% 22% 20% Kuk' 4% 5% 4% 4% 4% 4% 4% 4% 5% 5% Lone Cone 3% 4% 3% 2% 3% 3% 3% 4% 4% 1% Ridge 8 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% Roberts 1% 3% 1% 2% 1% 2% 1% 2% 2% 3% Star Comet 4% 6% 9% 6% 8% 8% 6% 8% 7% 9% Nyank' 63% 46% 57% 67% 60% 60% 65% 59% 55% 56% Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

TABLE 2
Example extract from bench schedule generated using Whittle Multi-Mine.
Pit Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Kukuluma Subtotal Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Lone Cone Subtotal 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 1266 1176 1015 901 788 653 532 401 161 201 154 111 1105 975 861 789 73 44 37 43 715 609 495 358 Bench 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 Total Tonnes 1496 1131 772 453 20 142 56 11 Ore t Year 1 Waste t Ore t 341 306 244 194 12 Year 2 Waste t 1155 825 527 259 9 Ore t 105 44 9 Year 3 Waste t 37 12 2

Many alternate scheduling sequences were very quickly investigated using Whittle Multi-Mine. This process identified which mines demonstrated greater sensitivity to the order in which they were extracted and subsequently stressed the effect of time on the cash flow contribution of these mines to the overall project NPV. It also assisted in highlighting a potential mismatch between the required material movement and the available mining capacity. If the mining capacity is well matched to the selected cut-backs then it will be possible to achieve a balanced schedule together with an improved NPV.

Department at Geita who contributed to the preparation of the data used in the Multi-Mine analyses. The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Geita Gold Mining Limited.

REFERENCES
Joukoff, T and Purdey, D P, 2004. http://www.whittle.ca/whittle-multimine.asp Improved life of mine scheduling with Gemcom Whittle Multi-Mine at Geita Gold Mine, Tanzania (Gemcom Software International Inc: Vancouver). Tulp, T, 1997. Multiple Ore Body Systems (MOBS), in Proceedings Optimising with Whittle, Perth, pp 149-163 (Whittle Programming Pty Ltd: Melbourne). Wharton, C, 2000. Add value to your mine through improved long term scheduling, in Proceedings Whittle North American Strategic Mine Planning Conference, Breckenridge, Colorado. Wharton, C, 2003. Multi-pit analysis and advanced pit scheduling, Development notes (unpublished), Melbourne.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This paper describes work undertaken by co-author David Purdey whilst employed as Chief Mining Engineer Geita Gold Mining Limited and is presented with Geita Gold Mining Limiteds permission. The authors would like to thank Geita Gold Mining Limiteds management for their permission to present this paper and also thank the members of the Mining

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