Stefano Utili

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering & Founder of OptimalSlope
Newcastle University (UK), OptimalSlope

Stefano Utili is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Newcastle University (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) and founder of OptimalSlope Ltd.

He is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineering, and Eur Ing. Prof. Utili has published extensively on the assessment of slope stability and the design of mine pitwalls.

Prof. Utili is the UK representative on the CEN committee TC 250/SC 7/WG3/TG 1 tasked with the revision of Eurocode 7 for the section ‘Slopes and embankments’ and member of the International Technical Committee 208 “Slope stability in engineering practice” of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

15.09.2021 11:30 - SESSION 4 | Online

OptimalSlope: a software determining optimal pitwall profiles to maximise mining financial returns and reduce carbon footprint

OptimalSlope provides user-friendly geotechnical software for the design of optimal pitwall profiles for open pit mines.

Profit margins are getting smaller and easy deposits to mine fewer so there is increased pressure to reduce costs and employ more efficient mine design processes. Moreover, open pit mining is responsible for a high level of Greenhouse Gas emissions. The overall inclination of the mine pit walls has a large impact on the amount of rock to be excavated to extract the valuable minerals. Any increase of pitwall inclination without compromising pitwall safety leads to less waste rock and in turn higher mining profit and less carbon footprint.

OptimalSlope is a simple to use software which runs on either cloud computing (e.g. AWS) or desktop for determining geotechnically optimal depth varying pitwall profiles for open pit mines. These profiles are steeper than their traditional counterparts, i.e. profiles exhibiting the same safety currently adopted in mine design. Calculations on 4 metalliferous mine case studies published in peer reviewed mining Society Journals (SME Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration; CIM Journal) and premier mine conferences (ACG 2021 International Slope stability in mining conference, CIM 2021 symposium) in collaboration with Itasca and SRK show that adoption of optimal profiles leads to a 4-17% reduction of waste rock which in turn improves mine profitability, increases of NPV up to 50% and carbon footprint reductions of ~10 MtCO2eq per mine. Also OptimalSlope can be integrated easily with all major pit optimiser software packages, e.g. Datamine, Geovia Whittle, Hexagon, Maptek, Micromine.

At present we count a few large mining companies as early adopters of the software (visit