Potential problem analyses: A practical risk assessment technique for the mining industry

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 90, No. 1009, 1997

M.P. Davies, Mining Group, Klohn-Crippen Consultants Ltd., Richmond, British Columbia

Risk, the product of probability and consequence, is an integral part of mining. Whether evaluating exploration priorities, determining property acquisition potential, reviewing the components of an operating mine or assessing environmental/closure issues, the concept of minimizing risk is central to economic and technically appropriate decision making. Until recently, risk evaluations have tended toward a strongly mathematical basis. With this previous trend, it was essential to establish precise probability density functions to all assessed components or issues where often little information was available. The combined effect of the seemingly complex analyses with corresponding insufficient data often resulted in either a poorly executed risk evaluation or no evaluation whatsoever; either result not acceptable for optimal decision making. This paper presents a simple and practical procedure to carry out risk assessments for the mining industry. Although simplistic in nature, the power and usefulness of the technique is immense. The basis for the procedure involves combining deterministic assessments (often “gut feel”) with appropriate probabilistic descriptors. The resulting procedure, termed Potential Problem Analyses, or PPA, can be used anywhere an evaluation of risk will assist in optimizing technical and/or economic decisions. As will be shown, a key element of the PPA procedure is the multi-disciplinary input the framework allows which makes the method ideal for a teamwork approach to decision making.
Mots Clés: Mineral economics, Risk assessment, Potential Problem Analysis (PPA).