Large scale mining cost benefits are obtained by planning capital intensive operations using large mining equipment units. Planning and scheduling the efficient utilisation of this equipment and optimum recovery of mineral resources has a significant effect upon total mining costs. Increasing the size of active mining areas reduces potential scheduling difficulties but this option has limits depending upon insitu resource geometry. Different mines place different emphasis on the spatial scheduling factors that lead to decisions to have more than one mining area. Factors such as blending, equipment utilisation and resource recovery are all equally important and yet these have different priorities in determining the need for spatially intensive mining areas. Environmental restrictions may also constrain the area available for production at any time.
Increasing the number of active mining areas will raise the risk of poor equipment utilisation due to inefficient scheduling. This risk could be reduced by the application of simulation and optimisation techniques to assist mine planning and scheduling decisions. Successful application of these techniques will reduce mining costs in operations where, because of the geometry of the deposit, a large amount of equipment is being used in a small mining area. The method used in determining these mining costs is also important and is discussed in the thesis. The effect of increased production rates on the optimum schedule is investigated by utilising information from the linear programming sensitivity analysis results. Other benefits include reduced environmental impact due to the potential to minimise the size of the disturbed area.
The investigations involved the use of data from both multiseam and thick seam mines in Central Queensland, Australia. Application of the mine planning software computer packages SURPAC, TALPAC, XPAC and GPSS have been successfully used in assisting the studies. Methods of incorporating optimisation algorithms such as linear programming into the program are also discussed.