Engineering Services

Engineering Services2018-04-14T06:04:59+00:00

Studies

Our associates write reports from scoping level to definitive feasibility which are often prepared or summarized as a “Technical Report” in a format suitable for public disclosure on US or international stock exchanges. In particular, we write and sign reports governed under NI 43-101 in Canada. Our associates conduct resource estimates, scoping studies and pre-feasibility level studies. We are often responsible for geology, resource, reserve, mining, processing, geotechnical, environmental, and hydrology portions of definitive feasibility studies.

Our approach to trade-off and optimization studies often covers many dependent and independent aspects of a project simultaneously.  We evaluate many scenarios which might include varying the production rate, varying the processed portion of the resource or reserve, changing the cutoff grade and strip ratio, changing open pit and underground mining scenarios and cost structures, evaluating different cash flow models, utilizing stockpiles. This is all performed in the context of a detailed analysis of commodity price impacts.

Our associates also conduct due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, mineral property appraisals, eminent domain, and tax and litigation support.  Our certified mineral appraiser and support staff can help determine the property value. We use highest and best use, future cash flow, and comparable sales methods in our analysis.

Studies services include:

  • Trade-off studies
  • Optimization Studies
  • Scoping Studies
  • Preliminary Economic Assessments
  • Prefeasibility Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Technical Reports (NI 43-101, Guide 7, JORC)
  • Mineral Property Appraisals
  • Reclamation Bond Calculation

Geology and Resource Estimation

Our geological team is well versed in exploration, geologic modeling, and resource estimation. Our Qualified Persons team includes Certified Professional Geologists (CPG), Professional Engineers (PE), and Mining and Metallurgical Society of America (MMSA) members. We work hand in hand with your project geologist who has intimate knowledge of the deposit to ensure that we don’t miss any details. We use state of the art software packages including LeapFrog, Vulcan, Datamine, Techbase, Mircomodel, and Carlson Software.

A typical project starts by taking your original dataset and completing a quality control check to verify the data integrity and catalogue the available data which typically includes lithology, mineralization, alteration, and assay information. We then model the deposits structure and lithology to define the structural and lithological controls. These controls are used to accurately delimit the mineralized domains which are verified through statistical multivariate analysis. Once the mineralized domains are defined, we complete variography on the data within each domain to determine the principal direction of continuity and appropriate estimation parameters. Each mineralized domain is then estimated separately using the most accurate estimation method for each zone. Finally, the resource model is verified through a combination of visual checks, swath plots, back tagging the core with the wireframes, cross validation, and other estimation methods. The final resource is then categorized into inferred, indicated, and measured resources using a combination of data quality, geologic continuity, cutoff grade, number of samples, number of drill holes, and distances from the samples.

For more advanced projects, we take the extra step to determine the mining boundaries and mining block size to provide you with a diluted resource that is ready for incorporation into an economic model. We also model other key parameters for deposits including acid rock drainage (ARD) potential and geometallurgical ore types. Complex deposits with many geometallurgical ore types can be accurately modeled using multivariate adaptive regression splines and validation testing.

Geology and Resource Estimation services include:

  • Exploration Sampling Program Design (Quality Control/Quality Assurance)
  • Geological and Structural Mapping
  • Geologic Core Logging
  • Exploratory Data Analysis
  • 3D Geological and Structural Modeling
  • Mining Geology Modeling
  • Mineral Resource & Reserve Estimation
  • Geometallurgical Modeling

Project Valuation and Optimization

Our approach to project valuation and optimization is tailored specifically to each project and builds on a foundation of experience our team has gained working on hundreds of projects in nearly all mineral commodities, from concept to production.

We provide merger and acquisition due diligence support to potential transactions. Our independent review of the project, producing mine, or multiple mining companies gives our clients comfort they are making the right decision. We cover disciplines and project stages from exploration through mine closure, and provide an assessment of the risks and opportunities we identify in each area. We also act as Independent Engineer representing financial investment groups through the construction and completion testing phase of developing mines. Our input has helped marginal projects succeed, helping ensure the financial investment was realized.

A distinctive capability of our associates is our unique approach to project optimization. Through experience with hundreds of projects we understand mining in reality is a complicated business and true project optimization can be challenging. Our associates have developed techniques that help us optimize complex projects. We call it Multi-Scenario Economic Modelling. Seemingly simple changes, like a commodity price change have a large impact on many aspects of the project. Mines adapt to the change by redoing mine plans and cutoff grade which affect the production schedule, revenue, stripping ratio, and mine life in an effort to manage project economics. A simplistic sensitivity analysis to metal price doesn’t reflect the dynamic situation. If the mine has both open pit and underground production, separate processes for different ore types combined with potentially variable production rates from open pit and underground affect the cutoff grade, resource base, and development schedule for both the open pit and underground mine. This makes project considerably more complicated. Our approach has helped optimize several of these types of developing projects and operating mines.

Our associates also provide independent adviser services/support for several companies providing specific expertise in areas they need support. For instance an operating mine might lose its mine planner, our associates would fill that position until they find a permanent replacement. Another example may be a periodic longer-term assignment such as a minority partner in a developing mine that needs a technical review and opinion of the resource estimate each time it is updated.

Project Valuation & Optimization services include:

  • Independent Project Review
  • Project Due Diligence
  • Independent Engineer
  • Mining Economics and Finance
  • Multi-Scenario Economic Modeling
  • Project Optimization and Trade-off Studies
  • Independent Adviser and Consultation
  • Mineral Property Appraisals

Mine Design, Planning, and Operations Support

Our mining team has extensive experience in both underground and surface mine design as a result of the many projects we have completed throughout the world over a large range of commodity types. Our lead engineers have key operations experience holding positions such as VP of Operations, VP of Development, Mine Superintendent, Director of Engineering, as well as Operations Foreman and Shift Supervisor roles.

Our surface designs involve an optimizing approach to maximize the potential return on your mineral deposit. We use Whittle pit shell analysis or floating cones to evaluate multiple pit sizes and select the ultimate pit not only on overall value but also on its marginal return per tonne. We then select logical pit shells internal to the ultimate pit to define the mining phases and push backs. Finally, we generate a mine plan targeting the most profitable ore in the initial years to maximize upfront cash flow but also take into account out of pit waste hauls and in pit backfill scenarios that can reduce operating costs. Our plans also take into account amount of potentially acid generating material, total material movement, mine site foot print, and sensitivity analyses to provide you with a robust low risk project that can withstand changes in commodity prices and as well as environmental pressures and community impacts.

Our underground designs begin with an evaluation of applicable mining methods given the deposit geometry, rock mass characteristics, ore body size, and layout. We then decide on the best methods focusing on the trade-off between higher cost selective mining methods and lower cost bulk mining methods. Our underground mine plans then detail the development sequence and mine discrete stopes or mining blocks to provide an accurate picture of required development capital and cash flow timing. We also incorporate variations in production rate and cutoff grade in a multi-scenario analysis to determine the most economic route for development and operations.

The production and cost estimation for our mine plans are developed from first principals using the drilling, blasting, loading, and hauling mining unit operations. This type of estimation method provides a detailed accounting of productivity, consumables, equipment operating hours, and required labor hours and can easily be carried from a scoping level study to feasibility. Our mine plans typically include detailed schedules for manpower, equipment, consumables, sustaining capital, development, and backfill. We have experience designing backfill systems, ventilation systems, development entries, dewatering systems, pump stations, and haulage systems.

Mine Design, Planning & Operations Support services include:

  • Open Pit Mine Design, Planning, and Engineering
  • Underground Mine Design, Planning, and Engineering
  • Mineral Reserve Estimation
  • Production and Cost Estimation
  • Operations Auditing and Optimization
  • Long Range, Mid-Range and Short-Term Planning
  • Grade Control and Production Reconciliations
  • Geofluvial Reclamation Design
  • Underground Mine Ventilation
  • Corporate Management
  • Tailings Dam Operations Support
  • Dam Safety Inspections
  • Monitoring Instrumentation Design and Installation

Geometallurgical & Geochemical Correlation Modeling

Our associates apply a unique approach to mapping the relationship between process plant performance and ore body characteristics. Our methodology allows for a better overall representation of the local variability of metallurgical response and how it relates to geology, geochemistry, and ultimately financial metrics. Our associates employ geometallurgical and geochemical modeling using cluster analysis, recursive partitioning, and multiple adaptive regression to help develop metallurgical/orebody relationships. This type of nonparametric statistical modeling allows the flexibility to analyze multiple variables/parameters within the deposit to produce a best fit process model that is utilized to produce an optimum mine plan, production schedule and economic model. This goes beyond the typical univariate analysis that uses one parameter to estimate a predicted value. This type of statistical analysis and modeling involves database construction, data analysis, non-parametric statistical modeling, geostatistics, and is followed by block modeling. In a recent project, we used elevation (approximation of the redox, supergene boundary), correlation between metal grades (lead, zinc, and copper), along with the percentage of 4 separate minerals types to create a robust predictive recovery model of a complicated poly-metallic deposit. Our associates substantially improved the understanding of the flotation response and removed much of the metallurgical uncertainty of the project.

Mineral Processing

If you have a metallurgical issue we can help.  With over 60 years of combined experience across a wide set of minerals, processes, and countries, we can help you find the right solution to your problem.

Our team has extensive experience in mineral processing and metallurgy. Our team has designed mills and heap leach facilities across the globe from preliminary studies to detailed design, construction, commissioning, and operation. Our experience-base is diverse with exposure to a wide variety of commodities including:

  • Gold and silver – refractory, free milling and heap leach
  • Copper –  heap leach, bioleach, pressure leach, flotation
  • Lead/Zinc – bioleach, pressure leach, flotation
  • Cobalt – bioleach, acid leach, flotation
  • Lithium – clays, non-clays, brines
  • Aggregates

We have experience across a wide domain of both conventional and novel processes including:

  • Heap Leach – our associates have performed preliminary to final design, stability analysis, stacking plans, and leaching plans for many heap leach projects. To-date we have completed over 30 heap leach designs including locations such as Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Mexico, Arizona, Turkey, Armenia, Ghana, Chile and Peru.
  • Bioleaching – experience designing, constructing and operating bioleach systems including plants in Chile, Brazil and Africa for refractory gold, copper, zinc and cobalt.
  • Flotation – extensive exposure in gold flotation for sulfide, free gold and other associated minerals, polymetallic flotation of copper, lead, zinc and oxide flotation.  Experience with traditional cells, tank cells, flash float and columns.
  • Grinding – SAG/Ball/Rod mills, Ultra Fine Grinding.
  • Solid/Liquid Separation – filtration, clarification, thickening.
  • Leach – bioleach, acid leach and pressure leach experience in gold and a variety of base metals.
  • Tailings Disposal – experience with tailings detoxification, thickening and impoundment.

Our experience allows us to select, develop and design the process flowsheet based on an optimization matrix that includes not only metallurgical performance and the traditional capital and operating cost parameters but also site characteristics, country factors and other experience-based influences.

Services include:

  • NI 43-101 Studies
  • Plant Auditing, Optimization and Trouble Shooting
  • Process Design
  • Heap Leach Pad Design
  • Cost Estimation
  • Laboratory and Pilot Plant Test Work – Design, Oversight, Audits
  • Laboratory Facility Design and Set-Up
  • Novel and Out-Of-The-Box Thinking for Complex Issues

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical stability of mine waste structures, pit walls, and underground workings is critical to project success. Our associates have completed numerous designs for these facilities from conceptual level through detailed engineering and construction using advanced state-of-the-art characterization and analysis methods. Projects include: waste rock facilities, tailings dams, tailings dry stacks, co-disposal facilities, and heap leach pads.

Our team members have completed numerous heap leach pad and waste rock dump designs throughout the world including locations such as Alaska, Nevada, Mexico, Arizona, Turkey, Armenia, and Peru. On a notable project, our associates completed the design and construction oversight for the tailings dam at Gold Corp’s Marlin Mine in Guatemala. The project involved a 75-meter high tailings dam with 14 million cubic meters of storage in an earthquake-prone region. Our associates also designed an instrumentation system at the site to monitor for settlement, excess pore pressure, and seismic activity. The tailings facility was used as both a tailings storage impoundment and a water reservoir to provide make-up water for the process plant.

Geotechnical Engineering services include:

  • Geotechnical Stability Analysis
  • Heap Leach Pad Design
  • Underground Rock Mechanics – Field Investigations and Modeling
  • Pit Slope Stability – Field Investigations and Modeling
  • Waste Dump Design & Stability Analysis
  • Geotechnical Instrumentation
  • Seismic Hazard Evaluation
  • Tailings and Mine Waste Co-Disposal Design
  • Seismic Monitoring Stations
  • Rockfill and Slope Stability Assessment and Mitigation
  • Retaining Systems, Tie Back and Soil Nail Wall Design

Mine Waste Management

Our associates manage mine waste with an interdisciplinary approach involving: mining engineering, civil engineering, water management, environmental engineering, and geotechnical engineering. Our associates can design not only routine waste rock facilities, but also can carry out complicated tailings compaction and consolidation studies, and dynamic (earthquake) stability analyses. Our associates have designed and constructed tailings dams, designed mine waste rock structures, evaluated the feasibility of complicated co-disposed waste facilities, and has applied state-of-the-art designs for the encapsulation of acid-generating mine wastes to reduce the risk of acid rock drainage (ARD).

A key to controlling the cost of dealing with ARD is to minimize the volume of water and atmospheric oxygen that comes into contact with potentially acid-generating rock and to control the microbes which catalyze ARD reactions. Our associates are skilled in the design of evapotranspiration covers and ARD source control projects that serve this purpose.

Mine Waste Management services include:

  • Tailings Dam Design – Rockfill, Earthfill, Upstream, and Downstream Construction Methods
  • Dry Stack Tailings Design
  • Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) Prevention and Mitigation
  • Waste Rock Facility and PAG Encapsulation Design
  • Geomembrane Liner System Design
  • Technology Screening and Risk Assessment
  • Tailings and Mine Waste Co-Disposal Design
  • Geochemical Characterization and Modeling
  • Unsaturated Flow (Mine Waste Leachate) Modeling
  • Mine Waste Cover Design and Modeling

Hydrology, Hydraulics, and Water Resources

Water management is often a mine’s single greatest technical, permitting, and social challenge. Recognizing this fundamental need, our associates have taken pains to master all aspects of mine water management. We assist projects world-wide not only in the cost-effective exploitation of water resources, but also in the protection of those resources from the impacts of mining.

Our associates have found mine water sources in fractured-rock aquifers for mines in arid regions, and has helped mines manage excess water in regions with heavy rainfall or snowmelt. We predict pit dewatering and underground mine dewatering needs, and work to incorporate pit dewatering and slope stability together in an integrated pit optimization package to minimize mine waste. Our associates also conduct geochemical characterization for Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) from all types of mine waste and predicts the impacts ARD may have on water quality. Through our teaming partners, we offer innovative solutions for ARD treatment, including passive treatment systems and sulfate-reducing bioreactors.

Our associates’ studies are usually incorporated into NI 43-101 Technical Reports or in Environmental Impact Assessments. Often, our associates continue to final design and installation of water management infrastructure. Over the years, we have saved our clients millions of dollars in water management and treatment costs while meeting or exceeding the requirements of local laws and international guidelines.

Hydrology, Hydraulics, and Water Resource services include:

  • Piping and Pumping Systems
  • Surface Water Management Plans
  • Channels, Ditches, and Diversions
  • Sediment Detention Structures
  • Weirs and Flumes
  • Stilling Basins and Energy Dissipation Structures
  • Dambreak and Floodplain Studies
  • Channel Restoration
  • Stream Gauging Stations
  • Meteorological Stations
  • Site Climatology
  • Site Hydrology and Hydrogeology Studies
  • Pit Dewatering
  • Groundwater Modeling for Mine Impacts
  • Groundwater Supply Development
  • Water Balance Studies
  • Monitoring Well Design and Installation
  • Vibrating Wire Piezometer Design and Installation

Construction Support Services

Mine and plant construction consume the majority of initial capital costs for mining projects, and their successful planning, implementation, and completion are fundamental to the project’s success. Our associates have the experience and expertise to support mine and plant construction efforts and to plan for smooth transitions from the initial design phase through planning, construction, and finally operation.

Our associates’ experience includes comprehensive planning to ensure that all aspects of the construction program have been thought through and prepared for, including risk assessment, health and safety, budgeting, scheduling, quality control and assurance processes, contract management and change procedures, and oversight. Planning may include developing construction methodologies; describing the work from start to finish including the sequence of work elements, inspection points, and hold points; identifying required plant and equipment; identifying sources for materials and locations for storing at the project site; and identifying any required work permits. Our associates can identify long lead items and provide scheduling to identify when those items must be specified, when RFPs need to be sent out, when vendors needs to be selected, and when agreements need to be approved. Our team develops Project Execution Plans (PEPs) that include all of these aspects working closely with the client’s key team leaders creating an effective and necessary planning tool.

Our associates’ project controls experience ensures that project progress, concerns, and priorities are well communicated. We develop detailed project schedules with milestone dates, resource loading, and budget tracking. We conduct productivity analyses (planned vs. actual vs. earned) and estimate hours and costs to complete at regularly scheduled times. We develop logs for tracking and managing issues, requests for information, and risks. Our project controls experience and insight ensures that all stakeholders are apprised of project progress and potential issues and risks as soon as they develop.

Throughout the planning and construction, our associates act as the owner’s engineer, managing design and construction contractors, coordinating all aspects of the work, controlling documents, budgets, and schedules. During construction, our experienced engineers provide oversight of construction activities, quality assurance, and work flow; conduct materials sampling and testing; provide management and documentation of work completed, changes, variances, issue resolution, quality, and health and safety. We coordinate and liaise with the client’s personnel and foster a collaborative, effective team.

Construction Support services include:

  • Owner’s Engineer
  • Engineer of Record
  • Construction Quality Assurance
  • Construction Management
  • Project Management
  • Geotechnical and Materials Testing
  • Post-Construction Monitoring
  • Trouble Shooting and Remedial Action
  • Instrumentation Monitoring

Environmental Management and Social Responsibility

Our associates have developed the expertise needed to design and implement environmental protection programs that will pass rigorous review from regulators and funding institutions. However, our associates recognize that environmental management and compliance must occur in the context of a successful mining project. Our associates therefore work with clients to create an environmental management plan that works within project constraints with a minimum impact on project economic performance.

Our associates have abundant experience preparing Environmental Impact Studies and in site environmental characterization. Our associates frequently write geochemistry and environmental sections of NI 43-101 reports. Our associates also write closure plans which reduce closure costs through the application of modern pollution and prevention methods and using our skills in earthworks and geotechnical engineering.

Additionally, our team members were involved in the development stages of geofluvial reclamation designs at BHP Billition’s New Mexico Coal Operations in early 2002. They were successful in gaining approval from the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division (MMD) regulators. Since that time, geofluvial reclamation has evolved into one of the premier reclamation design methods with proven methods for erosion control, revegetation plant establishment, and wildlife habitat restoration.

Environmental Management and Social Responsibility services include:

  • Acid Rock Drainage Prevention and Mitigation
  • Reclamation and Closure Planning
  • Environmental Studies – (Impact Studies, Baseline Studies, and Geochemical Studies)
  • Environmental Management Planning
  • Environmental Permitting
  • Geofluvial Reclamation Design
  • Sustainable Surface Water Management Plans
  • Erosion Control and Best Management Practice Plans
  • Training for Safe and Environmentally Friendly Operations
  • Safety Audits
  • Practical Safety Plan Development
  • Environmental Audits

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