Sn0wdenadminLatest News, Technical Articles

At Snowden our Mine Planning group thrives on solving complex problems quickly. Because each project is unique, we often develop our own tools to get the best bottom-line outcome for our clients. We do this by leveraging our diverse range of skills, experiences and perspectives as mining engineers, mathematicians and software developers. This series of articles provide some examples of where we have developed innovative solutions to problems; solutions that could also help add value to your project or operation.

The Problem

Underground stope design is a manual, time-intensive process. The time for stope placement and manual design often precludes the engineer from considering multiple scenarios; scenarios that may add significant value. Without reviewing potential alternative stope options in 3D, it is likely that dilution may be higher than necessary and/or recovery may be lower than it could be with a fully optimised solution.

This is a design phase not managed well by generalised mining software and Snowden developed an automated, optimised approach to the problem. A comparison with an open-pit design outcome is shown below to introduce the process.

Comparison of designs

The Solution

Stopesizor is a tool that modifies a Resource model for the minimum geometry of an underground mining method. It considers many of the complex 3D geometrical decisions that are not able to be resolved manually to provide an outline to guide mining engineers in detailed stope design. The tool enables mining engineers to be more efficient with their time by reducing the need to make complex decisions, as well as assisting to maximise ore recovery and minimise dilution due to design errors. Stopesizor generates shells that are nested by grade in a single run to enable scenario analysis of cut-off grades in order to converge on a value maximising strategy.

Stopesizor has been used by Snowden for almost 20 years on over 200 projects. It has been applied for all mining methods and commodities. It even has application in bench height and selectivity studies for open pits.

Stopesizor Image


Find Out More

This tool is just one of many that we have developed to solve problems that traditional software does not manage well. If you have a project where you need to get your underground mining strategy right, or have your own unique problem that we might be able to assist with, please contact us at to arrange a meeting.

To keep up to date with Snowden please follow us on LinkedIn

Related Articles

  • 5th December 2017 Stop using fudge factors in your planning The use of fudge factors to hide differences between the planned and actual production may be easy but it is also value destroying. This is why we developer Reconcilor to isolate […]
  • 7th March 2016 Block Cave Optimisor Block Cave Optimisor optimises the footprint and column heights for a cave, considering all the important constraints.
  • 6th March 2016 Evaluator Evaluator is a global scheduling and cut-off grade NPV optimiser, based on a Mixed Integer Programming method.