Early stage exploration which includes “desk top” studies before any ground work is done and “grassroots exploration” from the earliest stage through perimeter drilling; also includes reconnaissance and evaluative forays (an exploratory survey or examination as in making a preliminary geological or engineering survey). The goal of “grassroots exploration” is to confirm the ground is prospective, generally done in under-explored areas.
Pre-Feasibility further includes aeromagnetic/ geophysical surveys, mapping, geochemical & soil sampling, first phase drilling, modeling and infill drilling. Often the project will move forward after the first resource calculation has been completed. This stage provides valuable strategic information used by equipment and long lead item manufacturers, assisting them in planning, management and control of their production lines.
Various scenarios tested to determine if the deposit can be extracted profitably. The last such study is called a “bankable feasibility study’ (BFS) as it is used to secure funding. The company is more certain of this project going forward and this part of exploration includes improving the resource and often includes the planning of the mine, equipment and best process methods etc. as well as the start of environmental impact studies (EIS). This normally is finalized with complete resource estimation. This stage also involves the tendering and contracting of the Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM) and any other engineers required. Equipment manufacturers, suppliers of goods and service providers use this stage to get their products &/ services specified for the project.
The project is at the stage where financing can start being sought and often, environmental impact studies (EIS) are completed. The architectural planning, design and consulting through EPCM are completed and the finalization of this stage is the board signing the go-ahead for construction. Tendering process for various equipment manufacturers, suppliers of goods and service providers with awarding of contracts are further being done in this stage.
This stage mainly deals with civil work, construction and infrastructure of the project at all levels e.g. shaft sinking, construction of process plant, accommodation, roads etc. and is completed when the project is commissioned and goes into production. Early talks of possible expansions to projects could already be indicated at this stage; however the expansion project will follow the normal rout generally starting at Feasibility Stage onward again.
Projects move to this stage once the project is commissioned and goes into production – operational mines. This stage will also cover all new mines that have become operational since 2003 to present, including any expansions or refurbishments to any existing operational mines. This stage could assist through focusing on aftermarket in the form of maintenance and repair services.
Projects move to this stage when mine owners find it not cost effective to start a project, or decide to develop other projects prior to continuing with this particular project, or market changes negatively influencing a particular mineral type from time to time. Many of these projects however could be reconsidered in future should positive market changes take place.
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