2 Minutes with Roussos Dimitrakopoulos
October 7, 2013
Mines operate in a complex, uncertain and high-risk global environment. Roussos Dimitrakopoulos is among the world's foremost thinkers in the field of stochastic mine planning optimization. This new framework is based on developing mathematical and computing models to help mining companies make the best possible strategic and sustainable decisions.
Returning after a decade in Australia through the Canada Research Chairs program, Dr. Dimitrakopoulos established the COSMO Stochastic Mine Planning Laboratory at McGill University in collaboration with a consortium of six global mining companies—BHP Billiton, AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick Gold, De Beers, Newmont and Vale. The laboratory generates new ideas, new methods and a new technical-scientific paradigm for addressing the sustainable development of mineral resources.
Humanity went through the Stone Age. Then we graduated to the Bronze Age and then Iron Age and then probably middle - Dark Ages. But, nevertheless, humanity requires and uses materials that come from the Earth and so do we today.
My work and research is how can we improve technologically the sustainability of production of resources we utilize from the Earth.
We try to focus on the uncertainties that we see from both demand and supply which then is not a trivial problem because it's a guessing game and then you go into models of uncertainty, both in terms of optimization of a sequence of extraction as well as uncertainty into focus of the markets and demand and uncertainty in their bodies (ph). And that leads to complex mathematical models.
Why this type of work? Well, simply we replace the technologies with the new ones we develop and you instantly you will see that your assessment of what you will extract in metal is 20 percent more. That's significant and it leads to a different utilization of the resources. And it also allows us then to say, okay, we profit from this more or benefit financially. Can we divert a big part of the difference into rehabilitation, into better management, into community practices, in anything else that is relevant and important?
We have a partnership with a number of large mining companies for nearly 15 years or more, so this is the interaction. They articulate the problems. My job is then to understand, express them in a scientific way and trying to figure out, first of all, map what are the areas of fundamental things that we don't know and then out of that try to see which parts of what we learn over - over the discourse of interaction in research, how - which ones can graduate to the practice and which ones remain theoretical or contribute to understanding of science engineering.
The major funding comes from, one, the consortium of company partners that we have and they're part of our - of our work and a large part of that we also match with NSERC funding. The truth is that nobody knows everything. I need to interact with people. I need to learn from them. And I need to see challenging and complex things which I can do in North America and I can do in Canada.