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3.8.1 Introduction

Basic to application of computer techniques for grade and tonnage estimation is the visualization of the
deposit as a collection of blocks. Such a block model is shown in Figure 3.51. Some guidance for the size
of the blocks chosen has been provided by David (1977).

Typically in the profession, people like to know as much as possible about their deposit and
consequently they ask for detailed estimation on the basis of the smallest possible blocks. This tendency,
besides being possibly unnecessarily expensive will also bring disappointing results. One will find that
small neighboring block are given very similar grades. One should remember that as the size of a block
diminishes, the error of estimation of that block increases. Also, dividing the linear dimensions of a block
by 2, multiplies the number of blocks to be estimated and probably the system of equations to be solved
by 8! As a rule of thumb, the minimum size of a block should not be less than V4 of the average drill hole
interval, say 50 ft blocks for a 200ft drilling grid and 200ft for an 800ft drilling grid.

The height of the block is often that of the bench which will be used in mining. Furthermore the location
of the blocks depends on a variety of factors. For example a key elevation might be based upon
overburden ore contact, the interface between types of mineralization (oxides-sulfides), high grade-low
grade zones, etc. Superposition of a 100 ft x 100 ft block grid on the drill hole data from Figure 3.45 is
shown in Figure 3.52. As can be seen, some of the blocks have drill holes in them but most do not. Some
technique must be used to assign grades to these blocks. The tonnage of each block can be easily found
from the block volume (the same for all blocks) and the tonnage factor (which may vary). Two
techniques will be discussed in this section and an additional one in Section 3.10. They are all based
upon the application of the 'sphere of influence' concept in which grades are assigned to blocks by
'weighting' the grades of nearby blocks. Variations in how the weighting factors are selected distinguish
the three methods. A simplification which will be made in this discussion is to consider blocks as point
values rather than as volumes. This distinction is illustrated in Figure 3.53. By treating the block as a
point one would make one calculation of average block grade based upon the distance from the block
center to the surrounding points. If the block is divided into a mesh of smaller blocks, the calculation
would be made for each sub-block and the results summed. In the literature this volumetric integration
is denoted by integral or summation symbols. Hughes & Davey (1979) has indicated that the difference
between the point and volume approach is small. We have chosen to take the least complicated
approach in presenting the principles. Furthermore, a two-dimensional approach will be focussed upon
with only passing reference to extensions into 3 dimensions. The examples used will focus on assignment
of grades for a bench using composite grades for that bench alone. Grades lying above or below the
bench in question will not be included in the calculations. Finally unless specifically mentioned, all of the
grades will be assumed to belong to the same mineralization type and are all useable in assigning grades
to the blocks, i.e. there are no characteristics which eliminate certain values (change in mineralization,
formation, rock type, structural features). The reader will see how these can be considered.

3.8.2 Rule-of-nearestpoints

The polygon approach described in the previous chapter is an example of the rule-of-nearest points. The
area surrounding a drill hole is defined in such a way that the boundary is always equidistant from
nearest points. Although computer programs now do exist for doing this procedure, Hughes & Davey
(1979) suggests that little accuracy is lost using a regular grid. The computer calculates the distances
from the block centers to the surrounding known grade locations, and assigns the grade to the block of
the closest grade. If the closest distance is greater than R, no value is assigned. In some cases, the block
center may be equidistant from two or more known grades. A procedure must be established to handle
this. Sometimes an average value is assigned. Figure 3.54 shows the application of a computerized
polygonal interpolation to the composited values shown as level 5140 in Figure 3.45. If the block
contains a hole, it is assigned that value. Blocks without holes are assigned the value of the nearest hole
within a 250 ft radius. For blocks having centers outside of this radius a value of 0 has been assigned. The
shaded area has been interpolated as mineralization > 0.6% Cu. Because the distance from block to
composite is computed from the block center, results vary slightly from the polygons defined in Figure
3.50. Accumulation of blocks with projected grades > 0.6% Cu is calculated as 2,033,778 st at an average
grade of 0.92%.