Helping mining, minerals, and metals companies achieve better capital project and project system results.

With a detailed database of mining, minerals, and metals (MMM) projects, IPA can quantitatively measure the performance of capital projects at the individual project, project system, and industry levels.


What We Do

The Mining, Minerals, and Metals (MMM) business area covers those businesses and projects that extract and process minerals. Project scopes in the business area cover open pit, open cast and underground mining, transportation, processing, refining and finishing, along with associated infrastructure activities such as power, water, and construction camp facilities.

IPA collects and maintains project data to benchmark and analyze mining and mineral processing projects, including those producing aluminum, bauxite, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, nickel, platinum, potash, steel, and other minerals. IPA’s MMM business area supports the MMM industry at three levels:

Individual Project Level
IPA can establish an individual mining or mineral processing project’s level of readiness for proceeding into the Feasibility phase or at the full-funds authorization point by measuring project risks, determining its competitiveness against like projects, and determining whether Best Practices have been used for development.

Project System Level
Project benchmarks are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a company’s process for selecting, developing, and executing projects. Opportunities for system improvements are identified also.

Industry Level
Downstream industry benchmarking conferences and cost engineering forums allow MMM owner companies to share Best Practices for the more effective delivery of capital projects.

Our Approach

IPA’s ability to measure mining and mineral project performance is grounded in data. A Mineral Projects database—a subset of IPA’s database of more than 17,000 projects—includes metrics from the evaluation of more than 1,100 mineral projects worldwide. Using this MMM projects database, IPA’s experienced team of analysts is able to quantitatively measure the level of definition of orebody characterization, mine definition activities, process plant development, and definition of key infrastructure elements from the beginning to the end of an owner company’s project development and execution process.

IPA also has established a path to deliver mining and mineral processing assets successfully. The pathway is rooted in a gated process for defining project fundamentals throughout the project development process, known to many as Front-End Loading (FEL). Mine, Process Plant, and Infrastructure FEL underpins the asset development practices and has strong links to project outcomes.

The best-performing mineral companies developing projects with comparable execution durations are able to deliver projects that are 10 percent more competitive than other industry projects. IPA research shows that better mine project definition and better process plant / infrastructure definition helps project cost predictability, eliminate schedule slip, increase cost efficiency, drive execution speed, drive better start-up and early operations performance, achieve better safety, and potentially eliminate major late changes.




Capital Project Evaluation
Using a proprietary set of databases and statistical models, IPA evaluates individual projects and project systems in a number of key areas. IPA can establish an individual project’s readiness for authorization, quantify the cost and schedule risks, and determine competitiveness against like projects. Benchmarking a group of projects within a client's portfolio enables IPA to evaluate the effectiveness of an owner company’s process for selecting, developing, and executing projects, and identifies where and how improvements to the process can be made.

Mine Front-End Loading (FEL) Assessment
A risk mitigation tool, IPA’s Mine FEL, quantitatively measures the level of orebody and  mine definition activities by assessing and rating each stage of a mining project from drilling, geological modeling and metallurgical work through mine design and planning to mine production. The tool helps business and project teams to understand how well their mining project is defined at each stage of its development. The tool also assesses the use of industry Best Practices.

Mineral Processing and Infrastructure FEL Assessment
Provides a risk mitigation tool that quantitatively assesses the level of definition associated with mineral processing plants and their associated infrastructure requirements. The assessment identifies cost, schedule, and operational performance risks as early as the Pre-Feasbility phase through to project execution. The assessment also identifies and recommends Best Practices and risk mitigation strategies to increase the project’s chances of success.

Team Effectiveness
IPA offers organization and project team assessment services to determine owner and project team function competencies and assess team integration, including the use of contract services.


Industry Research

MMM companies regularly turn to IPA’s research services to identify key drivers of project success for megaprojects, expansion projects, and stay-in-business projects, to name a few. An MMM database of more than 500 projects from around the world allows researchers to analyze key project success metrics, including safety, cost, schedule, startup duration, and operational performance. The database contains information on coal, iron ore, bauxite, gold, diamond, nickel, and copper mines (open pit and underground), as well as metals and minerals processing facilities projects. Unmatched datasets, combined with IPA’s research expertise into capital projects, result in studies with insights that can help mining companies develop strategies to better cope in difficult markets.

See the full list of available studies for the Mining, Minerals, & Metals Industry


Project Assessment Software
With the FEL Toolbox software application, a company can accurately measure the quality of Front-End Loading (FEL), or project definition, for a particular project (less than US $20 million), based on IPA data. Additionally, project teams can use the application to benchmark their project’s FEL compared to other projects executed by their company as well as similar projects in the industry.

Training & Education
IPA’s education division, the IPA Institute, offers a full suite of courses sharing capital project development Best Practices derived from IPA research. The following are public courses frequently attended by project professionals in the MMM industry

Industry Conferences
Several MMM owner clients participate in these groups to share knowledge and Best Practices for improving capital project effectiveness:



Industry Norms for Sustaining Capital Allocation to Sites

One of the biggest conflicts Independent Project Analysis (IPA) observes at manufacturing companies occurs during the annual capital allocation process, in which sites and corporate or business units battle it out to see who will receive the biggest chunk of available sustaining capital (SC). By SC, I mean “stay-in-business” capital—the money that sites will use to maintain their production and make minor improvements to existing assets... Read More


Sustaining Capital Project Sanction / Authorization Duration - Just Give Me the Money!

IPA research has developed quantitative metrics that site-based project systems can use to optimize their project sanction/authorization processes.

IPA recently published the results from a joint industry study on authorization durations and trends. IPA routinely ...

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Too Few Mining Projects Begin Execution With an Adequate Orebody Understanding

Completing orebody understanding activities is the first step in mining & minerals project success. Follow these IPA recommendations.

In recent months, considerable turnover has occurred within the top executive ranks of major mining and mineral comp...

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Key Contact

Elizabeth SanbornElizabeth Sanborn
Chief Operating Officer


As Chief Operating Officer, Elizabeth is responsible for IPA’s global operations and the development and implementation of IPA’s long and near term business plans. She previously served as IPA’s Regional Director, North America. In this role, she was responsible for IPA’s North American operations, which serves clients in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. She was responsible for strengthening IPA’s relationship with clients in the region, with a focus on enabling them to understand project risk and to improve the effectiveness of their capital project systems.







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