The use and abuse of feasibility studies

At the AusIMM Project Evaluation Conference 2007 Neil Cusworth and William Mackenzie first presented industry leading thoughts on Independent Peer Review and the use of Benchmarking in capital projects.

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It is generally accepted that the preparation of a feasibility study is an important element early in the life cycle of a resource development project (eg Laird, 2001; Amos, 2001). It is also widely accepted that the feasibility study process is multi-phased and iterative (eg West, 2006).

Typically, initial assessments of the development potential of a resource project are aimed at assessing the project’s key technical and economic characteristics, with subsequent assessments designed to confirm assumptions and reduce the uncertainty associated with the development to an acceptable level. References to feasibility studies are often prefaced with ‘order of magnitude’, ‘preliminary’, ‘indicative’, ‘pre’, ‘final’, ‘bankable’, ‘definitive’, ‘detailed’ or other terms to indicate the level of detail investigated in a study. Resolution of technical issues is often seen as the primary focus of a feasibility study, whereas in reality, these technical issues are the basis upon which a business plan is built. This is not to say that technical issues are unimportant – they are a prerequisite to the demonstration of a project’s viability.

At the AusIMM Project Evaluation Conference 2016 in Adelaide, Neil Cusworth presented an update of this Use and Abuse of Feasibility Studies 2007 paper. The paper The use and abuse of feasibility studies – has anything changed? can be viewed here.