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AusIMM Study Processes for Resource Projects

Paul Harper FAusIMM(CP)
· 800 words, 3 min read

Why Do Mining Practitioners Need To Have These Tools? What are We Doing About It?

The purpose of this brief article is to bring to our Institute membership what we believe is a key gap in delivery of best practice studies and, ultimately, successful projects. As well as highlighting a challenge we also wish to turn it into an opportunity and outline our intentions to assist in filling this gap.

The Why

What we are seeing in the resources industry, and many others sectors as well, is that projects are not being executed very effectively. There are numerous headlines of projects far exceeding capital costs, overrunning construction schedules and failing to meet environmental and social obligations. The larger the project, the higher the potential that the project failures are so significant that the headlines reach front page news. These outcomes are not good for the stakeholders involved and the reputation of the industry as a whole.

So, the burning question is 'Why is this happening and what can be done to improve project delivery performance?' The answer is not straightforward and there are a multitude of reasons why projects have cost exceedances, are delayed and lose their licence to operate. However, one key reason that may lead to these undesirable outcomes is not having an optimal strategy in the first place, followed by poor implementation of a sub-optimal strategy. In other words – make sure you do the right things first before trying to do them the right way.

It all boils down to planning, planning and more planning and having the right systems and people to make it all happen. The JORC Code and NI 43-101 have certainly made a big difference in setting standards in reporting resources and reserves and making sure there is a good start to the process. However, we are still having project blow outs, so there is an opportunity to a make a difference by improving our study processes.

As mentioned above, there are a multitude of reasons Projects do not reach the goals as announced by Corporations, for which there is not one ready solution.

We see an opportunity to establish AusIMM Study Processes for Resource Projects as a step towards improving the situation – with the first step being to make sure you build the right project in the first place. The intention is to develop a course outlining good practice for study processes for practitioners and other stakeholders to refer to.

What are we doing?

We have established a working group as part of ConSoc to develop a course for Study Processes for Resource Projects. This working group consists of Paul Harper, Lisa Park, Peter Fairfield, Karl Van Olden with support from AusIMM via Kristy Burt, Phoebe Tan and Alison Bickford.

The first task for this working group was to set up a brief, which has been endorsed by ConSoc, the Policy and Advocacy committee, the AusIMM Management team and AusIMM’s Board of Directors.

The key objective of our brief is to:

Establish study guidelines for the development of mining projects, from discovery to operation. With the objective to enhance the professional capability of our members and to underpin investor and community confidence, corporate governance, and the reputation in the mineral resources sector.

To develop appropriate training courses with the purpose of providing best practice study guidelines for preparing, assessing and enabling project investment decisions through the project development lifecycle.

Development is now well advanced for the delivery of an online training course. The course will comprise four modules delivered over five weeks (12–16 PD hours in total) and will include four live webinars. The course will be open in February 2022 and enrolments will open shortly so please watch this space.

We have also put together an awareness webinar planned for 17 November at 4-5 pm AEDT. The purpose of this this webinar is to get the conversation moving and hopefully get some constructive feedback.

Our next goal is to establish the AusIMM Study Processes for Resource Projects (we envisage that this will be similar to the Cost Estimation Handbook, Mine Managers Handbook and other similar publications). We will have a framework, which has been established for the short course and will be adapted following feedback from participants.

There is a need to bring Subject Matter Experts (SME) on board to assist with this work. SMEs will cover the whole spectrum for studies from geology, geotech, hydrology, mining, geomet, metallurgy, engineering, environmental, social and governance, safety, human resources, project execution planning, financial model, legal and marketing and the list goes on. 

The study process will follow a standard industry framework, from scoping to feasibility coupled with an Independent Peer Review process for gating purposes.

Our intention is to keep our membership informed as we progress this opportunity and look forward to your support in making a difference to how we deliver studies and projects in the resources industry.

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