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A strategic reconnaissance level methodology for assessing power supply alternatives for northern mining Schmitt, Harold Rolf


This study develops and tests a methodology that can be utilized for a reconnaissance level assessment of electric power supply alternatives for medium-scale mining in northwestern British Columbia. The study is organized into four parts. Part one characterizes the public planning framework of the study area. Present and future use trends of the region's natural resources, in particular minerals and energy, are reviewed, and a typology of public preferences for their development is established. Part two carries out a literature-based review of the conceptual basis of normative decision-making. Specific energy project evaluation approaches are introduced. This establishes a theoretical framework for constructing the methodology. Part three presents the energy project assessment methodology. Part four applies the methodology to the RED-CHRIS deposit. Salient features of parts three and four which form the core of the study, are outlined below. Energy Project Assessment Methodology The central part of the study proposes a strategic, reconnaissance-level methodology for evaluating energy supply alternatives for medium-scale mining. Its scope is defined by; a) inclusion of strategic elements such as emphasis on priorities, analytical continuity, robustness, and adaptiveness, and b) adoption of a reconnaissance approach which reflects an intention to accommodate preliminary information at an appropriate level of complexity and comprehensiveness. The essence of the methodology entails three inter-related components: 1) Core Information Environment - Identifies and focuses on defining the energy supply issues for a particular undeveloped mineral deposit. 2) Basic Evaluation Environment - Assesses the viability of potential alternatives through the application of multiple criteria and formal decision-making procedures. 3) Peripheral Evaluation Environment - Assesses strategic information which is independent of the focused problem, but can exert an influence on the outcome of both the core and basic environments. Each component contains strategic data bases and analytical processes that assist the analyst to proceed from initial problem identification to selection of alternatives. Within and between the three structural component information is refined in an iterative fashion. This maintains a current perspective on the problem environment and leads to a more confident appraisal of the favoured energy alternatives for a mineral deposit. Case Study Analysis: RED-CHRIS copper-gold deposit situated southeast of Iskut was selected for a case study application of the methodology. Typical production schedule ranging from 8 to 20 years would require corresponding installed electrical capacity of 7.5 to 23.5 Megawatts. Key points which emerged from an analysis of this deposit's energy supply alternatives form the mine planner's perspective are: 1) Interest groups concerned with planning, developing, or regulating energy supply for RED-CHRIS include: a) Mineral deposit owners whose objective it is to maximize profit b) Societal interests whose objective it is to maximize economic, social and environmental well-being aspects of the project. c) Public policy interests whose objective it is to maximize economic, political, and social welfare within national and provincial energy policy. 2) Energy supply candidates identified and examined, include: diesel-electric, high voltage grid extension, small-hydroelectric, coal and biomass-fired generation, natural gas, peat, geothermal, wind and solar. 3) Comparison of different small-scale energy applications for remote areas is made difficult because of technical, political, and environmental uncertainties. 4) Satisficing and Dominance can be successfully applied from the mine planner's perspective to key decision criteria to narrow the various energy supply alternatives. 5) Small-hydro is the most favourable alternative at this juncture, followed by diesel. Coal-fired generation and biomass are comparable, and may be more favourable than diesel under certain circumstances. Other alternatives are presently unsuitable. General Conclusions: Application of the methodology is limited by the interaction between analytical design, available physical resources, and uncertainty in the operating environment, human values and external decisions. The methodology appears sufficiently robust and comprehensive to be adapted to other deposits in the region. Commonly shared information requirements combined with the iterative nature of information processing, can be used to reduce the resource demands and improve the efficiency of subsequent applications. Finally, it is recommended that the value sensitivity of the methodology be tested by applying it from more than one perspective to the same deposit.

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