December 2016

Book review: Applied Mining Geology by Marat Abzalov

  • By Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio MAusIMM, AusIMM Director and Principal Technology Business Partner, BHP Billiton

Applied Mining Geology brings together aspects from field geology, mine geology and mineral resource estimation in a practical guide that could easily become the new handbook for mining geologists of the future.

Dr Marat Abzalov is probably known by many readers, having published a number of papers with co-authors in the AusIMM’s Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve Estimation (Monograph 30), the Transactions of the Institutions of Mining and Metallurgy and the Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

coverThis book provides a detailed overview of the operational principles of mining geology, presented as an approachable mix of theory and practice. It is a book for practicing geoscientists and engineers as well as current students who are preparing to work in these areas. The outcomes of case studies from operating mines and projects provide useful benchmarking or comparisons for more advanced practitioners. The computer scripts attached as electronic supplementary material to the online version make this a useful resource for learning and personal application.

The publication is organised in seven parts, covering various aspects of mining geology and its application to enable decision-making on mines.

Part one covers about 25 per cent of the book and provides background and discussion on the best practice of mining geology with reference to mine design, mine mapping and sampling. It provides clear, logical instructions to cover basic procedures in mine geology, and more detail is provided on limitations, common mistakes and troubleshooting.

Part two covers the various sources of sampling errors and how these are remedied. Practical examples in parts one and two illustrate the theories and best practices, such as those comparing the results of dry bulk density measurements by total number of samples assayed and from twinned holes in different orebodies. The online version contains electronic supplementary material in the form of files with exercises (and solutions) referred to from chapter nine onwards.

Part three deals with mineral resources and the work required to ensure that data can be used confidently. The accessibility of the material to a wide audience is demonstrated by chapter 16, which introduces readers to various estimation methods and touches on their applicability.

Part four encompasses 20 per cent of the book and helps to demystify the complex field of applied mining geostatistics. Chapters introduce the reader to the commonly applied geostatistical methods for modelling and estimation of deposits. For example, chapter 18 on variography provides sufficient detail for people new to the subject to understand and be able to apply it in their modelling procedures. From a forward-looking perspective, chapter 22 provides an in-depth discussion on localised uniform conditioning, which allows estimation of recoverable resources for a block (grade tonnage curves) and provides waste and ore distribution within a block. The author describes its application in iron ore and bauxite mines and recommends applying it to early-stage exploration as well.

Part five helps the reader to understand the estimation of uncertainty, while part six covers classification and the challenge faced by many practitioners of balancing quantity and quality of samples. The practicality of this book is well illustrated in chapter 28, which provides a good example of the interaction of many variables that may be used in classification related to mine production.

Finally, part seven covers a number of mineral deposit types, including lode gold deposits, uranium deposits (in situ leach), iron oxide deposits, bauxite and mineral sands. They are good, quick guides for practitioners that are new to these deposit styles and help them to understand mine geology issues particular to a specific deposit style and how to address them.

Figures in colour and black and white provide a good visual balance, with theory being explained by clear diagrams and colour photographs used to show actual examples from mines and projects.

The writing style is concise and easy to read, and although some syntax errors have made it to the final publication, they do not detract from the ease of understanding sometimes complex theoretical approaches. The technical areas are well explained, and the formulae are broken down to help the reader understand the influence of changes in variables based on the geology.

The book does not provide a strong indication of the interdependence of disciplines in mining to ensure quality in planning, scheduling and execution, monitoring, and reconciliation as I had expected. However, it does provide geologists with a good understanding to analyse the impact of decisions in drill spacing, mining unit size, uncertainty in geology and sampling, and many other variables, and to demonstrate this to the broader mining disciplines. I would recommend it as a handbook to aspiring and current mining geology professionals.

Applied Mining Geology is available in both ebook and hardcover formats from the Springer website. 

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