August 2019
Volume 71    Issue 8

Optimization of surface mining dig limits with a practical heuristic algorithm

Vasylchuk, Y.V.; Deutsch, C.V.


Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration,

An algorithm is presented for optimizing the classification of surface mine material subject to excavating constraints. High-resolution, expected-profit models are optimized to classification maps subject to site-specific excavating constraints. This optimization problem defies traditional closed-form analytical solutions. A practical heuristic algorithm quickly determines the optimum final destination for material subject to realistic selectivity constraints. The expected profit could be calculated from an estimated model if the value calculations are all linear; otherwise, simulation could be used. In both cases, a single expected profit for all destinations on a high-resolution grid is the starting point for dig limits optimization. Maximizing expected profit in a risk-neutral manner is correct given the repeated nature of grade-control decisions over relatively short timeframes.


Follow these easy steps if you are an SME member:
  • Go to . Sign in with your email address and password.
  • Hover your mouse over “Publications and Resources” in the top banner. Click on “Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (MME) Journal” in the pull-down menu.
  • Scroll down and click on the “Read the MME Journal Online” button, which will take you to the Springer site as an SME member who is eligible for free access. (To see published papers on the Springer site, click on “Browse Volumes & Issues” in the blue banner.)
If you are not an SME member, go to for paid access. Or join SME at