Posts Tagged ‘cost’


Had a chance today to look through the proceedings of the upcoming conference Heap Leach Solutions 2014 scheduled in Lima, Peru for November 10 through the 13th, 2014.

The paper that caught my eye and caused me to stop and read it is titled Leach Pad Cost Benchmarking.  The authors are Mark E. Smith and Denys Parra of Anddes Asociados SAC, Peru.  Two famous folk in the field of heap leach pads.  You will have to wait for the proceedings to be published to get a copy, but for now let me quote from the paper.

Here is the paper abstract:

The cost of construction of the leach pad is an important part of the total capital cost of any heap leach project, whether a green-field development or expansion of an existing operation. The authors present and discuss costs from 48 phases of work on 28 heap leach projects in 8 countries, including North and South America, Africa and Asia. Costs were compiled from feasibility studies, detailed designs, NI43-101 technical reports, and as-built analyses. In a few cases, when the detail was suitably advanced, costs from prefeasibility studies have also been used. All costs are presented in 2014 United States dollars (US$) using an escalation rate based on the 10-year average ENR Construction Cost Index.

This data and the accompanying analyses should provide assistance to engineers and owners in preparing project cost studies. It may be useful to reviewers, investors, regulators, and sureties in determining the reasonableness of third party cost estimates. It may also help in the future to determine trends in heap leach costs (for example, relative to general construction cost escalation). This paper will also discuss the purpose of and methodology used in performing a benchmark study, which may be of broader application.

Here is just one of the many tables of data in the paper:

Table 1: Leach pad costs by country (2014 dollars)

Country Number of projects Earthworks costs, average US$/m2 Liner system costs, average US$/m2 Total leach pad costs, US$/m2
Average Range Standard deviation
Chile 3 30.84 6.33 37.16 25.29−44.26 10.34
Colombia 1 56.35 9.52 65.88
Peru 12 45.51 9.91 55.42 28.31-95.68 18.33
Philippines 1 30.34 8.93 39.27
Mexico 5 30.14 8.25 38.39 23.24−58.84 14.77
Namibia 2 25.78 8.39 34.17 30.92−37.42 4.60
Turkey 1 21.60 6.81 28.41
USA 3 19.07 9.81 28.88 21.53−34.46 6.65
Total 28 35.94 8.95 44.90 21.53−95.68 17.59


There are six more tables of information about costs.  All valuable information.  Hence the authors conclude:

As a closing observation, many of the differences between the various costs are in the upper limit of the range data. While the lower bound varies in the narrow spread of only US$9.39/m2 (US$21.53 to US$30.92), the spread of upper bound costs is a robust US$61.22/m2 (US$34.46 to US$95.68). Thus, cost-related risk reduction efforts should concentrate on addressing the factors that may affect the higher range figures, principally high rainfall sites and the use of valley leach pad technology, including its implementation.

A tremendous paper this one.  Get it when available–or maybe contact the authors through their companies and ask them for a copy.  I am sure they will be proud to oblige.

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In one of the many article I read on the Mt Polley tailings failure was an estimate of what it will cost to get the mine going again.   A figure of $50 million was quoted as the cost to pick up all the tailings and return them to the tailings facility.  I imagine that figure is based on five million cubic meters of tailings at about $10 a cubic meter to pick up.  Here is why I suspect the figure is grossly low. (more…)

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Today the issue of the cost of tailings management arose yet again.  I have previously blogged on this topic–see this posting, also repeated below if you choose not to redirect.  Today in this posting, I repeat two of the answers I received from people who may know.  Contact me if you seek their names.  Here is the first answer to my queries: (more…)

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It costs between $1 and $40 a ton to build, operate, and close a mine tailings facility.  That is as specific as I was able to be when answering a question today in response to an enquiry from Australia.  There is a surprising paucity of data out there on the cost of tailings management.  We have details of salaries & wages.  We know the compensation of mining company executives.  We know how much it costs to engage and retain even the most expensive consultant.  But we have no data-base on tailings costs. (more…)

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In my email this past week was a missive from the news-editor of Mining.com.  He passed on a letter sent to him for possible publication.  I repeat the entire letter below.  It has the edge I like.  It has the honesty of an old man about to retire: I respect that.  It has the frustration of change; and we all know the feeling.  So here it is.  It was written by Jay Collins, P. Eng., President,  Merit Consultants International Inc. (more…)

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