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Planning Optimisation Package (POP) for the mining industry

Curtin University is seeking partners or investors to develop a commercial product for use by the mining industry.


Summary of technology

Software packages have been used by the mining industry for several decades to optimise open pit mine plans. Due to the massive data requirements, this has traditionally been performed by breaking down the problem into different stages and then optimising each in sequence. This fails to produce a globally optimal solution, and as a result limits mine Net Present Value (NPV).

A new approach has been developed by researchers in the Curtin University Western Australian School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering. It produces an optimised long-term production schedule in a single process step without the need for intermediate constraints such as ultimate pit limits or pushback design. Optimality is maintained across the scheduling problem.

POP can be linked with market, industry, financial and operational information sources, enabling strategic mine planning to be converted from a periodic and manual process, to become collaborative, agile and continuous.


  • Greater optimisation leading to increased NPV over industry standard optimisation software.
  • Simplified, one-stage process.
  • Improved processing time frames.
  • Enhanced operational decision making.

Research team

The team is led by Professor Erkan Topal at Curtin University, and includes Dr Oktay Erten and Ngoc Luan Mai.

Stage of development

POP has been validated with data from a large-scale copper deposit, achieving a 15 per cent improvement in NPV over current industry standard optimisation packages. It is currently undergoing further verification using data from an operating iron ore mine.

Intellectual property

Copyright is owned by Curtin University. The algorithms are a trade secret and there is the potential to patent aspects of the methodology.