Grade and Tonnage Uncertainty Analysis of an African Copper Deposit Using Multiple-Point Geostatistics and Sequential Gaussian Simulation

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© 2017, International Association for Mathematical Geosciences. Spatial uncertainty analysis is a complex and difficult task for orebody estimation in the mining industry. Conventional models (kriging and its variants) with variogram-based statistics fail to capture the spatial complexity of an orebody. Due to this, the grade and tonnage are incorrectly estimated resulting in inaccurate mine plans, which lead to costly financial decision. Multiple-point geostatistical simulation model can overcome the limitations of the conventional two-point spatial models. In this study, a multiple-point geostatistical method, namely SNESIM, was applied to generate multiple equiprobable orebody models for a copper deposit in Africa, and it helped to analyze the uncertainty of ore tonnage of the deposit. The grade uncertainty was evaluated by sequential Gaussian simulation within each equiprobable orebody models. The results were validated by reproducing the marginal distribution and two- and three-point statistics. The results show that deviations of volume of the simulated orebody models vary from − 3 to 5% compared to the training image. The grade simulation results demonstrated that the average grades from the different simulation are varied from 3.77 to 4.92% and average grade 4.33%. The results also show that the volume and grade uncertainty model overestimates the orebody volume as compared to the conventional orebody. This study demonstrates that incorporating grade and volume uncertainty leads to significant changes in resource estimates.

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Natural Resources Research