A bankable feasibility study is part of the second phase of the mining cycle. It compiles the results of all the other feasibility studies done when planning a mining project and adds information on required permits, environmental impact, negotiated contracts and the costs of closing the mine and reclaiming the ground. It is the full analysis you would use to present a mining project to a bank or investor for funding, but it doesn't guarantee you will receive the money.
First Stage of Mining Projects
The first stage of a mining project is mineral exploration. It includes prospecting for potential mine sites and staking the claims. Once you have the rights to the land, you start working on a series of feasibility studies covering drilling and testing for presence of the mineral, a basic environmental impact study to identify major environmental problems before you get too involved in the project, a social impact study and workforce availability, and preliminary evaluations of the extent and value of the mineral deposit. These studies give you an idea of whether it is worth developing the mine, which is the second stage that leads to the assembly of the bankable feasibility study.
Second Stage of Mining Projects
Once you feel you can most likely develop the mine and make a profit, you start digging deeper into information before you do any mining. In this stage you do the detailed determination of where the mineral deposits are located, best methods to mine them, access to the claim and movement of the minerals to transportation hubs, examination of operational options and the preliminary financial projections. Then you write your mine plan and present it to the appropriate government agencies, local and national, and apply for permits to mine and transport the minerals. Once you have done this, you are ready for the final preparations of your bankable feasibility study.
Why "Bankable" is Misleading
A bankable feasibility study should be thought of in terms of being a detailed business plan that you would present to any investor or bank in hopes of getting approved for project funding. It includes the results of all your studies, but the investor or banker will likely do due diligence on the information you present. It is only bankable in the sense that it is a proposal ready to be presented for funding. Before it is ready, you must also do additional feasibility studies on engineering, infrastructure construction, accessibility of terrain, geology, mining procedures, processing plant construction, water and waste management, supplier and vendor estimates. A plan for closing the mine and reclaiming the ground, with full environmental impact studies, will also be needed.
Finishing the Bankable Feasibility Study
The reason mining projects are approached using this process is the ever-present risk of discovering the mineral deposit isn't financially feasible to mine for some reason -- of which there can be many. All the information is built incrementally to conserve costs until it all points to potential profits. When that happens, the final financial projections are made, permits obtained, contracts negotiated and the bankable feasibility study is presented to investors and banks.
- Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada: Essential Elements and Risks in Bankable Feasibility Studies for Mining Transactions
- Coalspur: Bankable Feasibility Study
- BusinessDictionary.com: Feasibility Study
- Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada: Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities
Victoria Duff specializes in entrepreneurial subjects, drawing on her experience as an acclaimed start-up facilitator, venture catalyst and investor relations manager. Since 1995 she has written many articles for e-zines and was a regular columnist for "Digital Coast Reporter" and "Developments Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from the University of California at Berkeley.