Follow the journey of optimisation in underground mining as plotted in the following four technical papers starting in 1995.

Optimisation in Underground Mine Design
C Alford, 1995 APCOM XXV

A new tool called the ‘floating stope’ has been developed to define the optimal (boundary) limit for material that can be economically extracted by underground stoping methods. The method is analogous to the ‘floating cone’ method of open pit optimisation.

Stope Optimisation Tools for Selection of Optimum Cut-Off Grade in Underground Mine Design
C Alford and B Hall, 2009 Project Evaluation Conference

In feasibility studies the choice of optimum cut-off grade is typically based on an evaluation of tonnage grade curves and manual design of stopes at one or two cut-off grades. In the industry these stope designs are usually based on break-even cut-off grades, but there is little consensus on what cost and price assumptions ought to be included.

A new tool for automated stope design has been developed that generates sets of stope shapes for a nominated range of cut-off grades, or depending on the nature of the mineralisation, cut-off values based on net smelter return calculations in the block model.

Optimisation in Underground Mining
C Alford, M Brazil, and D H Lee, 2006 Handbook of Operations Research in Natural Resources

Efficient methods to model and optimise the design of open pit mines have been known for many years. While the underground mine design problem is conceptually more difficult it has a similar potential for optimisation. Recent research demonstrates some useful progress in this topic. Here we provide an overview of some of this research.

Optimisation in Underground Design – A New Research Collaboration
C Alford and P Dunn 2009

A new research collaboration, coordinated by AMIRA International, has brought together active research groups in Australia and Canada, with the goal of developing a flexible framework and set of software tools for optimisation in underground mine design. This paper will summarise the current state of the art, and the research plan for this new project.

Cut-off Grade-based Sublevel Stope Mine Optimisation – Introduction and Evaluation of an Optimisation Approach and Method for Grade Risk Quantification
M T Bootsma, C Alford, J Benndorf and M W N Buxton 2014

Recently a new stope optimiser product was released. The AMS Stope Optimiser automates the design of underground stopes at user-defined cut-off grades and allows for rapid evaluation of mine designs at different cut-off grades. Using this software, an optimisation approach was developed and validated on an underground gold deposit in northern Sweden. Potential project NPV increased by approximately 30 per cent when using this new approach.

Cut-off Grades and Optimising the Strategic Mine Plan
B Hall 2014

This volume, written by Brian Hall, presents an in-depth look at an integral part of mining strategy optimisation – cut-off specification. The publication builds a thorough understanding of cut-offs, covering simple concepts along with the more complex and comprehensive models of cut-off theory and evaluation practices. The first section of the volume addresses the principles underlying the more complex approaches to strategy optimisation; whilst the second section deals with the finer details of conducting evaluations.