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Strategic mine planning of surface mining projects incorporating

sustainability concepts

Conference Paper · June 2013

DOI: 10.13140/2.1.3566.9125


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2 authors, including:

Christos Roumpos
Public Power Corporation of Greece S.A.-Technical University of Crete (2006-2015)


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6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the 645
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

Strategic mine planning of surface mining projects incorporating

sustainability concepts

C. Roumpos and E. Papacosta

Public Power Corporation of Greece S.A., Mines Division, Greece

ABSTRACT pos and Spanidis, 2003; Roumpos et al., 2006).

Strategic open pit mine planning, incorporating
Long-term strategic mining planning and sched-
stochastic optimization techniques in mine de-
uling is a critical stage for the design and devel-
sign and production scheduling, allows model-
opment of surface mining projects. It requires
ing and direct integration of the project uncer-
an integrated approach and optimization based
tainties and provides a framework for the opti-
on all available technical (mineral deposit char-
mization of life-of-mine planning (Dimi-
acteristics, geological, geotechnical and hydro-
trakopoulos, 2011).
geological data), economic, environmental or
Public acceptance of surface mining opera-
social parameters. Many of these parameters are
tions in relation to sustainable development may
crucial for the viability and sustainability of the
also affect the viability of the corresponding
mining project. Within this context, the quanti-
projects (Pavloudakis et al., 2012). Modeling
fication of the main parameters effect on mine
and evaluation of the exploitation strategy of
design and scheduling incorporating sustainabil-
such projects in the strategic mine planning and
ity concepts is very important for a successful
scheduling phase should incorporate sustainabil-
mine planning. The objective of this paper is the
ity issues connected with activities that take
development of a framework for the strategic
place throughout the whole mine life cycle,
mine planning of surface mining projects con-
from the first exploratory stages to the post min-
sidering parameters of sustainability, their inter-
ing period (Roumpos et al., 2005).
relationships and their influence on the optimi-
A holistic approach model for the mine plan-
zation model as well as on mine development. A
ning of surface mining projects should be based
case study with a description of the proposed
on an integrated approach to the long-term stra-
model in a surface lignite mine development is
tegic mining planning and development, taking
into account the latest technical, environmental,
economic and social data with regards to the
1. INTRODUCTION operation of surface mines (Roumpos et al.,
2011). Within this context, the critical role of
Mining projects are dynamic complex systems, sustainability parameters on the strategic mine
with a long-term horizon, affected by many un- planning of surface mining projects can be de-
certainty and risk sources. Project uncertainties scribed by dividing the mine planning model in-
may relate to geological-mineral deposit charac- to the following interrelated sub-models:
teristics, technical, environmental, social, eco-
nomic or other factors. Especially in surface - Mineral deposit – geologic – hydrogeologic -
mines, which extend over very large areas and geotechnical model.
usually have a long life the long-term strategic - Mine development and scheduling model.
mine planning should take into account these - Environmental impact assessment model.
uncertainties. - Financial - mining economics - market mod-
The planning stage is critical for the success- el.
ful development of the mining projects (Roum-
646 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

In this paper the effect of sustainability pa- its as well as for the optimization of long and
rameters on the mine planning sub-models is short-term of mine development.
described. A case study, clarifying some critical Geotechnical analysis is also a very im-
issues of the analysis, is presented concerning portant issue of the mine planning process. Ge-
the mine planning of Mavropigi Mine. otechnical model affects the overall mining ratio
(volume of waste per ton of ore) and therefore
the cost and the economics of the project. It also
2. SUSTAINABLE MINE PLANING OF plays a critical role in strategic mine develop-
SURFACE MINING PROJECTS ment. Geotechnical investigations should start
The critical effect of sustainability parameters in the early exploration phase of the deposit and
on the strategic mine planning of surface mining a geotechnical model should be available in the
projects is presented, examining every sub- mine planning phase in order to be used into the
model of the mine planning model. mine planning optimization processes, ensuring
geotechnical stability of the excavation and
2.1 Mineral deposit - geologic- geotechnical - dumping process and safe mining operations.
hydrogeological model The geotechnical parameters of surface mining
projects contribute to sustainable mine planning
The mineable ore reserves estimation process is design of the projects.
a very important subject for the mine planning Hydrogeological analysis is also an essential
and design phase of the mining project. It is a issue for the mine planning process. Hydrogeo-
core component of any surface mining project, logical investigations referring to groundwater
affecting the life of the project, the annual pro- and surface water problems that will be encoun-
duction rate of the mine, the life of the corre- tered during the mining project should also start
sponding mineral processing or other facilities from the early exploration phase and continue to
and the viability of the overall project (Roum- after mining closure phase. In surface mining
pos et al., 2009). The role of reserve estimation projects the hydrogeological model is an inte-
is also crucial in setting sustainable targets in gral part of mine planning process as it is related
the context of managing the mining industry’s to geotechnical model and also affects the de-
greatest asset (Weatherstone, 2005). watering planning of the mine, the environmen-
Quality parameters of run-off-mine ore are tal impact of the project, the water balance of
also very important in strategic mine planning. the mining area and the environmental reclama-
They also affect the economic viability of the tion of the mine. It is clear that the hydrogeolog-
project, the efficiency of the processing facili- ical parameters are also critical in the sustaina-
ties, the environmental performance of the pro- bility of mine development parameters and in
ject or the decision for the mining sequence. the viability of the project.
Mine planning activities should take into ac-
count the efficient use of mineral resources. It 2.2 Mine development and scheduling model
is, therefore, essential a reliable mineral deposit
model, based on the geologic and fault model of Strategic mine development and scheduling
the deposit and on exploration drill holes data. model is the most important part of mine plan-
This model should be based on conventional ning activities. It is a complex, multi-objective
and geostatistical grade and tonnage assessment optimization problem incorporating technical,
techniques, incorporating errors and uncertain- environmental, economic, social or other con-
ties related to the exploration data or other un- straints.
certainties concerning the spatial tonnage or The main optimization model includes the
grade distribution variability. It should also be selection of the mining method or the combina-
revised periodically, adding the new knowledge tion of mining methods, the location of the
acquired during the mining project. The model opening phase of the surface mine and the se-
can be used for the optimization of final pit lim- quence of the excavations and the waste dump-
ing and waste management, the optimization of
bench design, the optimization of the production
6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the 647
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

rate meeting short and long-term tonnage and ronmental planning and development of the
grade targets, the optimization of mining mining project throughout the entire mine life
equipment reliability and utilization and the cycle. The type and magnitude of environmental
stockpile management and blending procedures. impacts of surface mining projects are closely
The model should be optimized taking into ac- related to various site-specific physical, chemi-
count the operation of a number of mines of a cal, ecological, socioeconomic and cultural
mining center and incorporating the interlinking characteristics, which must be thoroughly iden-
ore and waste handling systems. tified, analyzed and modeled. The correspond-
Mine development flexibility is a very im- ing model requires the identification of inflows
portant issue concerning the complexity and un- and outflows of the mining system defining ap-
certainties that a surface mining project faces propriately the boundaries of the system, the de-
through mine lifetime. Strategic long term plan- termination of the best available environmental
ning requires a cyclical reassessment of exploi- management practices as well as the definition
tation options, in the context of anticipated of environmental monitoring and sustainable
changes in the near- and long-term business op- development indicators.
erating environment (Smith, 2012). Environmental and social issues often have a
It is obvious that in the optimization process direct impact on the economics of the mining
of a surface mine development and scheduling project. They may be related to the following
problem sustainability parameters should be in- parameters:
corporated in all stages of the project, through-
- Land acquisition requirements essential for
out the whole mine life cycle, from the first ex-
ploratory stages to the post mining period. mining excavations and waste dumping de-
These parameters, which are also related with velopment. One of the main parameters in
the parameters of the other three mine planning the optimization of mine development is the
sub-models, may include: minimization of the waste outside dumping
areas, minimizing the land acquisition re-
- The recovery and efficient utilization of the quirements and consequently the correspond-
mineral resource. ing cost as well as the environmental impact
- The optimal environmental and ecological of the surface mining project. Land acquisi-
planning of the mining operation as well as tion processes may be crucial in mine opera-
the landscape and environmental reclamation tion causing delays in mine development or
of the mine, minimizing the volumes of changes in the direction of mining operation.
waste outside dumps. Therefore, a land acquisition planning should
- The economic performance of the mining be incorporated into the mine planning pro-
project. cedures.
- The social acceptance of the project and the - Relocation of infrastructures affected by the
contribution to long-term viability of the lo- project. An appropriate management model
cal and regional economies. for large technical projects is also required
- The minimization of risk in all stages of min- from the initial phase of mine planning activ-
ing operation. ities (Roumpos et al., 2011). The large tech-
The above-mentioned parameters should be nical projects may necessitate significant
taken into account into integrated optimization modifications-revisions of the mine limits
of mine development and scheduling model. and of its development schedule. They are al-
so related to the environmental and sustaina-
2.3 Environmental impact assessment model bility planning of the mining project and
Surface mines are complex operations that can have a direct effect on the economics of the
affect numerous environmental constituents in project.
various ways. The environmental impact as- - Environmental protection and land reclama-
sessment model aims at the sustainable envi- tion planning of the mined out and waste
648 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

dumping areas. These activities are closely 3. CASE STUDY

connected with mine planning procedures, An analysis of the described mine planning
with the land uses prior to mining operation model concerning the strategic mine planning of
and the planned land uses of the reclaimed the Mavropigi surface lignite mine is presented
areas. They should also take into account the in this section.
transportation and deposition of the by-
products of the mining project. They start 3.1 Mine location - Description of the
from the early stages of deposit exploration Mavropigi lignite deposit
and expand many years after the mine clo-
The Mavropigi mining field is located in the
sure and affect directly the social acceptance northern part of the west boundary of the Ptol-
as well as the economic performance of the emais mining area (Fig. 1). The area of the mine
mining project. covers approx. 11 km2. In the NW-SE direction,
- Archaeological investigations in the mining it extends over approx. 5 km from the Ptolemais
area. Surface mining projects offer an oppor- power station to the Komanos village and in the
tunity to conduct Archaeological fieldwork NE-SW direction from the former opencast
by funding the Archaeological research prior mines of North Field and Komanos, to the
to mining operations and thus to contribute to mountain front where pre-Tertiary slates and
sustainable mining operation concerning the limestone layers occur near the surface. The
Archaeological findings. On the other hand mining field includes administrative buildings
inappropriate planning of Archaeological in- of the opencast mines, industrial facilities and
vestigation taking place in the region surface parts of the Ptolemais power station. Inside the
mine may cause significant delays or changes planned mining area, the Mavropigi village is
in the mine development. located in the southwest of the field. From the
beginning of the mining operations at the end of
2002 until the end of 2012, 51.8 Mt of lignite
2.4 Financial - mining economics - market was produced. The remaining exploitable lignite
model reserves amount to 146.4 Mt. The main mine
This model is related with the financial, mining equipment consists of 8 bucket wheel excava-
economics and market parameters that are usu-
ally taken into account in the mine optimization
model. They may refer to objective function, to
the criteria and economic analysis for invest-
ment decision - making or to the constraints of
the model. The basic economic parameters of
the mining project are directly connected with
the parameters of the other mine planning sub-
models. They mainly include the escalation of
capital and operating mining cost through all
phases of mining project, from the exploration
to post mining activities, the commodity prices,
the interest rates and the financial engineering
and risk analysis model. The economic analysis
model could also be integrated by incorporating
the evaluation technique of real options or the
game theory analysis taking into account the
competition of other mining projects.

Figure 1: Ptolemais lignite basin and the Mavropigi Mine.

6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the 649
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

3.2 Strategic mine planning of Mavropigi mine

The main issues concerning the strategic mine
planning of Mavropigi mine include the follow-

Excavation pit limits

Strategic mine planning and scheduling of
Mavropigi mine has been modified since the ini-
tial phases of the mining project. The pit limits
in the initial mining study of Mavropigi mine
(Rheinbraun Engineering & Public Power Cor-
poration of Greece, 2006) did not include
Mavropigi Village (Fig. 2). Figure 3 shows the
mine development sequence (A-B-C-D-E)
mainly by the use of continuous mining equip-
Figure 2: Fault system - initial and final pit limits of the ment and the areas of exhausted mines North
Mavropigi mine. Field and Komanos mine planned for waste ma-
terial outside dumping (areas of outside dump 1
tors and 3 spreaders, transferred from the ex- (2 spreaders) and 2 (1 spreader) respectively).
hausted mines of North Field and Komanos as In a revision of mine planning, based on the
appropriate for the Moavropigi deposit (Ko- decision for a new power plant construction,
lovos, 2006) and the annual lignite production and on the new exploration, geotechnical, envi-
of the mine is approximately 8 Mt (Pagonis ronmental, social and economic data, the pit
et al., 2009). limits in the area of Mavropigi village were ex-
After a zone of very small thicknesses of the tended, increasing the mineable lignite reserves
lignite-bearing series in the south, the thickness of the deposit and consequently the increasing
grows towards the northwest where it mainly the contribution to the sustainability of the min-
ranges between 50 and 150 m, while it rises up ing project concerning the efficient utilization of
to approximately 200 m towards the south- the lignite deposit and to the to long-term viabil-
western mountain boundary. The increase in ity of the local and regional economies.
thickness of the lignite-bearing layers is accom- Also, the need for covering part of the pro-
panied by a division into a multitude of split duction needs of the adjacent Kardia surface
seams. In a graben settling down to the north lignite mine, the exploitation of low depth de-
and opening towards the Proastio field, the lig- posit of Komanos village, which initially was
nite-bearing series reaches a thickness of 200 to part of the lignite deposit of Mavropigi mine,
250m in the planned mining area. The overlying was assigned to Kardia mine (Fig. 2). This part
strata thicknesses mainly range between 10 and of the deposit was planned to be excavated by
50m. non-continuous mining equipment.
The mining field is separated by NW-SE
striking faults into individual fault blocks Lignite production rate-excavations sequence
(Fig. 2). In the initial mining study the annual production
Towards the mountain front it is limited by rate of the mine was ~ 6 Mt, covering the feed-
one or several faults with dips towards the mine. ing needs of Ptolemais Power Plant. The de-
Furthermore, sandy-gravelly layers of the over- mand for higher annual production rates (8-10
burden strata locally incorporate consolidated Mt) covering the needs of other power plants of
layers. the lignite center, necessitated the application of
a rapid mine development plan with significant
modifications in the excavations sequence of the
mining sectors (Fig. 4), introducing the applica-
650 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

Figure 4: Mine development sequence after the modifica-

tions of pit limits and production targets.

A new geotechnical investigation of the

Figure 3: Mine development sequence in the initial strate- south-west final perimeter slope of the excava-
gic planning of the Mavropigi mine.
tions revealed the movement model, identified
tion of non-continuous mining equipment to a the risk factors, improved the geological and
large extent in various areas and incorporating fault model and suggested a safe slope inclina-
the production flexibility of the project. As a tion in for excavating the deep lignite seams in
consequence, there was a need for a new area that area with safe mine operations.
for dumping the waste material excavated by The occurrence of the limestone in the upper
non-continuous equipment (outside dump 3). benches of the mine also imposed the use of
The site that was selected for the construction of continuous mining equipment in the west
the new power plant had been planned for the boundaries of the mine.
outside dump 2 of waste material (Fig. 3). Be- In that area, hard rock conglomerate material
cause of this selection, the area of outside dump also exists, so the planning of the excavations
2 was changed (Fig. 4). with the combination of continuous and non-
continuous mining equipment in different min-
Further changes of mining sectors’ sequence ing areas is a critical issue for the efficient use
due to land acquisition and the consequent ge- of the main mine equipment and the appropriate
otechnical problems mine development. Hydrogeological problems
in the western mine perimeter require a water
Land acquisition of a small area (L) (Fig. 5) in management planning.
front of excavation face became a crucial issue As a result of these changes in mine excava-
in excavation development of the Mavropigi tion planning and based on the outcome of the
mine. The delays in the acquisition of that area new geotechnical investigations, the estimation
caused production problems and imposed signif- of the volume of waste material that will be
icant changes in the direction of excavations. A dumped to the outside dump area 1 increased.
flexible planning of the mine included the An increase is also anticipated for the final lev-
changes of the mining direction shown in Fig- els of the outside dump area 1 (avoiding new
ure 5. The new excavations sequence formulat- dumping areas) as well as the delay of the in-
ed excavations face geometry with adverse ge- stallation of spreaders in the inside dump of the
otechnical effects. mine.
6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the 651
Minerals Industry, 30 June – 3 July 2013, Milos island, Greece

issues concerning the development of

Mavropigi mine.

Dimitrakopoulos, R., (2011). Strategic Mine Planning un-
der Uncertainty. Stochastic Optimization for Strategic
Mine Planning: A Decade of Developments, Journal
of Mining Science, Vol. 47, No. 2.
Kolovos. C., (2006). Technical Aspects Regarding the
Opening of a New Mine with Old Already-Existing
Equipment, Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Plan-
ning, and Policy, 1, pp. 1-7.
Pagonis, G., Ch. Roumpos, K. Liakoura and N. Par-
askevis, (2009). Revised mine planning of Mavropigi
mine, Public Power Corporation of Greece (in Greek).
Rheinbraun Engineering & Public Power Corporation of
Greece, (1996). Technical Mine Master Plan, un-
published report, 600 p.
Roumpos, Ch., F. Pavloudakis and M. Galetakis, (2005).
Figure 5: Further changes in mine development sequence Modelling and evaluation of open-pit lignite mines
after land acquisition problems and geotechnical investi- exploitation strategy, 2nd Int. Conference on Sustain-
gation of south-west final perimeter slope. able Development Indicators in the Minerals Industry
(SDIMI 2005), May 18th - 20th, 2005, Aachen, Ger-
many, pp. 1127-1139.
Concerning the areas of archaeological inter- Roumpos, Ch., K. Liakoura and M. Leontidis, (2006).
est at the south part of the Mavropigi mine Strategic mine planning framework for continuous
(Fig. 5), a major archaeological fieldwork was surface mining systems operation, 8th International
funded and started in 2008, prior to mining op- Symposium Continuous Surface Mining (ISCSM),
erations that identified a number of areas of ar- Aachen, Germany, 24-27 September, pp. 249-260.
Roumpos, Ch., F. Pavloudakis and M. Galetakis, (2009).
chaeological interest, contributing to sustaina- Optimal production rate model for a surface lignite
bility of mining operations. The appropriate mine. Proceedings of the 3rd AMIREG International
planning of archaeological investigations did Conference: Assessing the Footprint of Resource Uti-
not cause any delays in mine development. lization and Hazardous Waste Management, 7-9 Sept.
2009, Athens, Greece: pp. 360-365.
Roumpos, Ch., K. Liakoura and N. Paraskevis, (2011). A
4. CONCLUSIONS model for management of large technical projects in
surface lignite mines, Mineral Wealth, 159/2011, pp.
Strategic mine planning surface mining projects 9-22 (in Greek).
is a complex, multi-objective optimization prob- Smith, G.L., (2012). Strategic long term planning in min-
lem that requires an integrated approach with ing, The Journal of The Southern African Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy, Vol. 112, pp. 761-774.
the incorporation of technical, environmental, Weatherstone, N., (2005). The role of the mineral reserve
economic, social or other issues. estimator in promoting sustainable development in the
In the optimization process of a surface mine mining industry, Applied Earth Science (Trans. Inst.
development and scheduling problem sustaina- Min. Metall. B) Vol. 114, pp. B14- B21.
bility parameters should be incorporated in all
stages of the mining project, throughout the
whole mine life cycle, from the first exploratory
stages to the post mining period.
In this paper, the critical role of sustainability
parameters on the strategic mine planning of
surface mining projects was described by divid-
ing the mine planning model into interrelated
sub-models, with a discussion of some critical

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