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Geology beyond the resource

A fundamental part of SRK’s approach to project evaluation is the recognition that many of the risk areas associated with mining projects are driven by lack of understanding of the geology of the deposit in question. Typically, there is significant focus on the impact of geology on the resource. This is justifiable, since the resource is the key asset of a mining project and a long list of project failures can be attributed to poor resource estimates. However, from a number of project reviews over recent years, it is apparent that the key geological risks are often associated with other aspects, such as geo-metallurgy and environmental impact. In these specific examples, key assumptions are dependent on mineralogy and the representivity of sampling campaigns, which are often limited in scope and breadth. Assessing the geological representivity of the data, which underpin downstream assumptions for other disciplines, is therefore a key part of the geologist’s role in any project evaluation.

Recognising these factors, the geologist has a responsibility to communicate with other team members, especially those with an engineering rather than geological background, to assess the key geological assumptions impacting these other disciplines. The geologist can then assess the level of geological understanding supporting these assumptions and help identify any risk areas and/or opportunities for improvement.

In summary, the geologist must look beyond the resource and assess the impact of geology on the project as a whole. Recognising this fact is a key strength for SRK’s holistic approach to project evaluation and assessing geological risk in particular.

Richard Clayton:

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