Date of Graduation
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
The global mineral industry faces constant challenges that are incited and intensified by market uncertainty. Demand constrictions, resource scarcity, and market volatility all generate market risk that is compounded by the high capital and long payback periods inherent to mining projects. Quantitative risk assessments provide a methodology to leverage uncertain economic scenarios and accurately assess profitability; however, current mine valuation techniques and engineering economic approaches tend to scrutinize the uncertainty of technical factors, such as ore grade and metallurgical recovery, to a much greater degree than market factors, like price-demand restrictions. Nevertheless, the optimal operating conditions for mining, mineral processing and refining must reflect the true dynamics of uncertain commodity prices, and typical operational responses, such as modifications to mine production and material stockpiling.;This thesis presents a new mineral asset valuation methodology based on economic uncertainty in the commodity market and operational flexibility for mining operations. This novel valuation approach resulted in the generation of a complex system that consists of three primary components. First, a price forecasting component was used to generate future commodity price scenarios with two different stochastic differential equation models (Geometric Brownian Motion and Mean-Reverting-drift). Second, a dynamic methodology of discounted cash flow (DCF) was developed, allowing operational flexibility for mining, processing, stockpiling, and selling material. Third, two distinct optimization techniques (Interior-point method and genetic algorithms) were applied for identification of optimal operating parameters in a mining operation, with a particular focus on using buffer stockpiles to ameliorate the impacts of volatile price fluctuations. The dynamic model was applied in a case study assessing the valuation of a greenfield Ni-Co-Sc mine project. The hypothetical deposit was subjected to different levels of commodity price trends, price volatility, discount rates and maximum stockpiling capacity. Overall, the dynamic valuation model obtained NPV results ranging from 2% to 11% higher than standard static DCF techniques. Operational flexibility and ore inventory management proved to be crucial for profit increase on the project.
Silveira, Marcell B. B., "Mineral Asset Valuation Under Economic Uncertainty: A Complex System for Operational Flexibility" (2016). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 6645.