Mining thanks a legend

JEFF Whittle wins the Prospect Awards Outstanding Contribution to Mining Award.

In 1983 Jeff Whittle wrote Three-D as a private venture.

The development of this software is said to be one of the most significant software developments to optimise mine design, and Jeff Whittle is a valuable individual for the Australian mining industry, Prospect judges said.

Three D is the first implementation of the Lerchs-Grossmann pit optimisation algorithm that could be used with any mining software package on any computer.

Jeff’s wife Ruth set about marketing Three D for their company Whittle Programming.

It took 12 months to make their first sale.

Sales gradually grew, and as users gained more experience with the package they ran it many times for sensitivity work.

Whittle thought that there had to be something better than repeatedly running the same program, and this led to the development of Four-D, where the fourth dimension was time.

This later became Four-X, when the ability to handle multiple elements was added.

Later rudimentary schedule optimisation was added to the software.

Four-X has become an industry standard for open pit design, and is used many mining companies world-wide.

Subsequently, Whittle wrote Opti-Cut, a program for optimising cut-offs over time.

This was based on Ken Lane’s seminal book The Economic Definition of Ore.

Opti-Cut was later integrated with Four-X.

The Four-X technology was sold to Canadian mining software house Gemcom in 2002, and the Whittle’s ceased to have any financial interest in the technology.

From 1998 onwards Whittle’s interest had been in optimising the schedules of very large mining complexes.

He developed software to do just that.

His software can produce optimal, or near-optimal, long-term schedules for complexes with hundreds of pits, multiple processing options, multiple products that have to be blended, and multiple stockpiles.

He is involved with Whittle Consulting which is run by his son Gerald, and uses this software.

Whittle Consulting was formed in 1999 as a joint venture with Whittle Programming, aimed at providing specialised planning services to the mining industry.

Jeff, Ruth and Gerald Whittle have owned the company since July 2002.

Over the past several years nearly 20 studies have been performed for large mining companies, in Australia and overseas, on projects valued in the billions.

Net Present Value improvements of hundreds of millions of dollars are common.

In September 2006 the Council of the Australian Computer Society elected Jeff Whittle to the grade of Fellow.

“Jeff Whittle has made distinguished contributions to the field of ICT both in Australia and throughout the world over a period of 40 years, and is an outstanding candidate for admission to the grade of Fellow of the society,” the citation read.

The outstanding success of Whittle Programming is said to be epitomised by the adoption of the Whittle name as a verb into the mining vernacular.

It is said that mining engineers around the world know that their pits are not optimally designed until they have been ‘Whittled’.

In December 2006 the Board of AusIMM awarded Jeff Whittle the Mining Industry Operating Technique Award.

“For his eminent services to the mining industry through his great contribution to changing the way the industry both views and practices optimisation in mine design and strategic mine planning,” the citation read.

Highly commended

Pat Stephenson was a member of the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) prior to the development of the first JORC Code, from 1988 to 2006.

Stephenson held a number of leadership positions on JORC, as secretary from 1992 to 1999, and chairman from 1999 to 2005.

He was also JORC’s representative on, and co-chair of, the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) in 2005 and 2006.

Stephenson retired from JORC and CRIRSCO in November 2006.

The JORC Code for the reporting of exploration results, mineral resources and ore reserves was first released in 1989 and was promptly included in the listing rules of the ASX.

The JORC Code is the only externally sourced document included in the ASX listing rules.

Revisions to the Code have always been prepared with extensive public consultation and the 1999 edition of the JORC Code achieved widespread acceptance as a sound basis for market related reporting of mineral resources and ore reserves.

Stephenson was primarily responsible for the revision of the Code in 1996 as Secretary of JORC, and the major revision in 1999.

The release of the 1999 edition of the JORC Code was the catalyst for the development or upgrading of other national codes.

As chairman of JORC, Stephenson supervised the revision of the Code released in 2004.

Stephenson developed close relationships with the International Accounting Standards Board of the Extractive Industries Working Group as co-chair of CRIRSCO.

CRIRSCO has since become the recognised international body for resource and reserves reporting.

Stephenson also contributed significantly to the establishment of dialogue between the Society of Petroleum Engineers and CRIRSCO, and the re-establishment of dialogue with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Stephenson was also instrumental in developing and championing the Recognised Overseas Professional Organisation (ROPO) scheme in 2002, under which members of overseas professional organisations can qualify to act as competent persons for preparing documentation which supports public reports to the ASX and NSX.

Pat is currently a Principal Geologist with AMC Consultants, a position he has occupied since February 2001.

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