Developing bauxite projects – balancing technical and logistical considerations

Author(s): 
Filip Orzechowski
Date: 
Sunday, November 29, 2015
First presented: 
The 33rd International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina and Aluminium (“ICSOBA”) Conference and Exhibition
Type: 
Published paper
Category: 
Civil Engineering
Mining
Project Evaluation

Bauxite projects around the world share many similar characteristics: a perceived understanding that the geology is relatively simple and that mining is straightforward; and also, many are located in remote areas that may require significant infrastructure solutions to bring the ore to a port or refinery. This paper sets out to explain the issues and provide an understanding of the competing pressures on where to focus effort when undertaking the technical evaluation of bauxite projects. Getting the balance right is making sure that sufficient geological exploration and resource evaluation are undertaken to appropriately characterize the deposit and allow an optimal mine plan to be developed, versus the logistical analysis and infrastructure design required to understand the capital and operating cost implications of bringing the bauxite to market. Bauxite resources are not particularly difficult to explore or exploit; however, because of the long distances from the deposit to the nearest port, construction of roads, railways, and barging solutions need to considered and the capital for these solutions should not be underestimated. There is a risk that too much focus on logistics and infrastructure diverts attention away from the real issue of the quality and quantity of the resource proposed for exploitation.

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