The Whittle Story

A Live Book

We welcome feedback or contributions to add to our Live Book. Click here for more info

Section 1
Introduction

    We warmly welcome you to the Whittle Story! The history of the Whittle Mining Optimisation Software is a uniquely Australian story of intellectual creativity, invention and a great deal of hard work. It is also a human story, which centres around one special individual, Jeff Whittle, his family and a growing number of talented individuals who have developed a new industry out of a wonderful idea. Written in the voices of the people who have participated, the “Live Book” is our attempt to record for posterity this special story.

    Click here to download Ruth’s introduction to the Live Book

    Click here for the list of Live Book authors

Section 2
The Background Story

  • 2.1 What is mining optimisation?
  • 2.2 Moving to Australia by Jeff Whittle
  • 2.3 Moving to Australia by Ruth Whittle
  • 2.4 Jeff's Newmont Phase by John Robinson

What is mining optimisation?

Mankind has always attempted to obtain the most value out of scarce mineral resources. Traditionally, this was achieved by maximising the physical amount of a resource obtained from a mine.  

Over the past 30 years, Whittle Consulting has revolutionised the mining industry. We have pioneered the realisation that maximising the economic value of mineral resources, through the creation of early cash flow, is the true way to maximise the business of mining. Understanding the simple concept that money has a time value has turned the mining industry upside down. The effects are so profound that we are telling this story…

Click here to watch a video explaining Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning

Moving to Australia

by Jeff Whittle

Melbourne, 1961

The story behind Jeff & Ruth Whittle’s move to Australia makes fascinating reading. Triggered by rising Cold War political tensions & the real possibility of nuclear war, Jeff & Ruth realise they need a safer environment for their growing family. In a real life “closing doors” moment, they decide to make the move to a new life in Australia. This piece written by Jeff Whittle is a captivating story about contemporary politics and courage.

Click here to download Jeff's story

Moving to Australia

by Ruth Whittle

Ruth and the children in St Kilda in Oct 1961. Jeff joins the family in Australia 1 month later

Moving a young family to a new country is always a deeply personal story. As a wife & mother of 4 young children – & with her 5th child already well on the way, Ruth Whittle makes the move to Australia. Arriving in Melbourne in 1961, Ruth’s story will resonate with anyone who has had to start their life afresh in new, welcoming and yet sometimes strangely unfamiliar land.

Click here to download Ruth's story

Jeff’s Newmont Phase

by John Robinson

Being a pioneer is never easy. Challenging accepted norms & long-held modes of operation are all part of the role. In this story, John Robinson tells how he worked alongside Jeff Whittle at Newmont Mining in the mid-1980’s. As such, he was one of the first to see Jeff’s newly developed pit optimisation software in action. To say that he was surprised with the results is probably an understatement.



Click here to download John's story

Section 3
Jeff Whittle’s Order of Australia (AO)

  • 3.1 Jeff Whittle & Whittle by Chris Davis
  • 3.2 Supporting Jeff's AO Nomination by Dr Peter Lilly
  • 3.3 Official Announcement - Jeff Whittle awarded Order of Australia (AO)
  • 3.4 Mining Industry Icon Honored for Service
  • 3.5 Jeff Whittle Speech at AO Dinner - Meccano to Mining
  • 3.6 Ruth Whittle Speech at AO Dinner - An Incredible Journey
  • 3.7 David Whittle Speech at AO Dinner - The Development of Whittle Programming
  • 3.8 Gerald Whittle Speech at AO Dinner - The Development of Whittle Consulting
  • 3.9 Jeff Whittle - A Career Outline

Jeff Whittle & Whittle

by Chris Davis

The move to recognise Jeff Whittle for his involvement in the mining industry is a story in itself. In this article, Chris Davis (a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy) explains his growing realisation of the contribution of Jeff Whittle & his subsequent quest to submit a successful nomination for him in the 2018 Australian Day Honours List.



Click here to download Chris’ story

Supporting Jeff’s AO Nomination

by Dr Peter Lilly

The process for nominating a person for inclusion in the Australian Honours List is a significant undertaking. It includes a formal written application, prepared under the name of a nominator which is supported by a range of referees. Dr Peter Lilly was one of the referees for Jeff Whittle’s nomination. Here he describes why he was happy to provide a letter of support for Jeff’s nomination.



Click here to download Peter’s story

Official Announcement

Jeff Whittle awarded Order of Australia (AO)

The Age, Friday January 26th, 2018

Jeff Whittle was recognised in the Australia Day Honours for 2018. He was named an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO).


Click here to download official Press Release (link to pdf titled (Jeff Whittle awarded Order of Australia)

Press Release

Mining Industry Icon Honoured for Service to the IT Sector & Mining Industry

It’s important to celebrate significant events. That’s why Whittle Consulting held a private dinner in April 2018 to celebrate Jeff Whittle’s investiture as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO). A press release was circulated afterwards to announce the news to mainstream & industry publications.



Click here to download official Press Release

Jeff Whittle’s Speech at AO Dinner

Meccano to Mining

Jeff & Ruth Whittle at the RACV Club Dinner, Melbourne May 2018

This is the talk given by Jeff Whittle at a private dinner organised to celebrate his appointment as an Officer of The Order of Australia (AO) for services to the mining industry. The function was held at the RACV Club in Melbourne on Friday April 20, 2018. Many of the people who had contributed to Whittle Programming & Whittle Consulting over the years were present. It was a wonderful celebration of achievement & friendship.



Click here to download a copy of Jeff’s speech

Ruth Whittle’s Speech at AO Dinner

An Incredible Journey

Jeff & Ruth Whittle embark on a new adventure and establish Whittle Programming in 1984

In April 2018, a formal dinner was held in honour of Jeff Whittle’s investiture as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). This event also celebrated a lifetime of achievement for both Jeff & Ruth Whittle. At the dinner, Ruth gave a speech on the creation of the business & the important role that she has played in its’ development. This story is truly an incredible journey.



Click here to download a copy of Ruth’s speech

David Whittle’s Speech at AO Dinner

The Development of Whittle Programming

David Whittle is the fourth son of Jeff & Ruth Whittle. He worked in the family business as Business Manager, Managing Director & later as a Director of the newly formed Whittle Technology Ltd (2000). After the sale of the Whittle software to Gemcom Software International (2001), David moved to Canada, spending five years as the Whittle Product Manager & Vice President Marketing. This background has given David a vast body of knowledge to draw upon for his speech at the formal dinner celebrating Jeff’s investiture as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). This is what he said.



Click here to download a copy of David’s speech

Gerald Whittle’s Speech at AO Dinner

The Development of Whittle Consulting

Gerald Whittle is the second son of Jeff & Ruth Whittle. In his speech at the dinner celebrating Jeff Whittle’s AO award, Gerald told the story of the second chapter in the Whittle Story – the beginning of Whittle Consulting in 1998. This is a story of how the family business goes global whilst still retaining the honesty, integrity & the hunger for ongoing software development for which Jeff Whittle is renown.



Click here to download a copy of Gerald’s speech

Jeff Whittle

A Career Outline

Jeff Whittle is a physicist-turned-computerist with 44 years of extremely varied & successful experience in computing. He has worked on projects which were technical, mathematical, educational & psychological. He has worked on Operations Research & on compilers. He has headed successful project teams & he has worked on his own. He is comfortable with most computer languages, both procedural & non-procedural, & he takes a pride in producing high quality programs quickly, either by himself or working in a team. Jeff’s 65-year long career is a story of unflagging intellectual curiosity & unstinting professional endeavour which has helped to shape the international mining industry.



Click here to download a copy of Jeff’s Career Outline

Section 4
Whittle Programming - The Early Days

  • 4.1 Whittle Programming Milestones
  • 4.2 What’s in a name? By Ruth Whittle
  • 4.3 Becoming a Born Global Company by Ruth Whittle
  • 4.4 Working with Whittle Programming by Geoff Hall

Whittle Programming Milestones

  • 1977
    After leaving Monash University, Jeff Whittle begins consulting to various clients as “Whittle Programming.”
  • 1979
    Jeff Whittle begins consulting to Newmont Mining in Melbourne, commencing his exposure to the Australian mining industry.
  • 1984-1985
    Development of Three-D software by Jeff Whittle.
  • 1984-1985
    Establishment of Whittle Programming Pty Ltd from the family home in Balwyn, Victoria, Australia.
  • 1986
    First overseas commercial sale of Three-D software to APIRSA in Spain for US$5000.
  • 1986
    First educational sale of Three-D software to Laval University, Canada for US$100
  • 1987
    Release of Four-D.
  • 1987
    Four-D wins Australian Information Technology Award (AITA) “Software Product of the Year.”
  • 1989
    Whittle Programming awarded Australian Small Business Award.
  • 1990
    Jeff Whittle awarded membership of SSME (USA).
  • 1991
    Four-D gains an Australian Design Award.
  • 1992
    Four-D chosen for inclusion in the permanent exhibition of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.
  • 1993
    Four-D awarded at XXIV APCOM Symposium in Montreal, Canada.
  • 1993
    Jeff Whittle and Whittle Programming awarded memberships to AIIA, Canadian IMMM&P, Austmine.
  • 1994
    Jeff Whittle elected Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (AusIMM).
  • 1994
    Jeff Whittle awarded membership to Austmine.
  • 1995
    Release of Opti-Cut.
  • 1995
    Letter (and cheque) received from Ken Lane re Opti-Cut.
  • 1995
    Jeff Whittle recognized by “Computerworld Australia” and Data General Australia as a Computerworld Fellow for contributions to computing in Australia.
  • 1995
    Jeff Whittle & Whittle Programming named Australian Information Technology “Achiever of the Year.”
  • 1995-1996
    The Federal Government’s MARKET AUSTRALIA thrust into Eastern Asia uses Whittle Programming as an example of Australian innovation.
  • 1996
    US Copyright Office – Certificate of Registration (Opti-Cut 0.92).
  • 1997
    US Copyright Office – Certificate of Registration (Opti-Cut 0.95).
  • 1997
    Total sales reach $5,000,000, across 55 countries.

What’s in a name?

By Ruth Whittle

WEG cartoons of Jeff & Ruth Whittle completed by WEG in the Whittle Programming office in 1989

It’s not often that a name becomes a verb. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, the name “Whittle” has now evolved into a full-blown mining term. To this day, it is hard for a mining operation to gain financial backing unless it has been “Whittled.” In many ways, this is the ultimate compliment to what Jeff Whittle & his team have achieved.



Click here to download Ruth’s story

Becoming a Born Global Company

By Ruth Whittle

The Whittle Family Home in Balwyn, Victoria, Australia was the first office of Whittle Programming circa 1987

Born Global definition:  a type of company that from the beginning of its activities pursues a vision of becoming global & globalises rapidly, without any preceding long term domestic or internationalisation period.

In this instalment of the Whittle Story, Ruth Whittle explains the culture of endeavour that underpinned the development of Whittle Programming as one of the first “Born Global” companies in Australia.



Click here to download Ruth’s story

Working with Whittle Programming

By Geoff Hall

Geoff Hall was instrumental in the development of Whittle Programming & the WP software. Over his time, he saw the business evolve from working out of former bedrooms in Ruth & Jeff’s Balwyn home to rented office space in Balwyn & Box Hill. Later, Geoff spent 2 years living & working in Vancouver, Canada - assisting when WP software was sold to Gemcom (now Geovia). This is his story.



Click here to download Geoff’s story

Section 5
Whittle Programming – the history of our software

  • 5.1 Whittle Programming Software Timeline
  • 5.2 Block models & phases
  • 5.3 Whittle Three-D
  • 5.4 Whittle Four-D
  • 5.5 Opti-Cut/SPCO
  • 5.6 Whittle Four-X
  • 5.7 Milawa
  • 5.8 Whittle Programming Marketing Archive

Whittle Programming Software Timeline

(Gemcom/GEOVIA since 2001)


Block models & phases


What is a Block Model?
All Whittle software works, in various ways, on the basis of a “Block Model.” But what is a Block Model?

Open pit mining is conducted by working across a level called a “bench.” This allows trucks, diggers and other equipment to move about freely. When a bench is completed, a small vertical cut is made down to the level of the next bench. This is then mined horizontally out from the small vertical cut, creating the next bench level.

Each bench is divided into rectangles called blocks. The resource in each block is then estimated from drill hole information. The quality of individual blocks varies dramatically. They can be composed entirely of waste, entirely of ore or a combination of ore and waste. A determination is then made on the likely cost to mine and the revenue to be gained from mining, and possibly, processing the ore in each block. The file which contains the information of all the blocks in the mine is called a block model.

What are phases?
Within a final pit outline it is usual to begin by mining a smaller mine outline. This allows quicker access to the ore and the resultant revenue stream. As time goes on, this is then followed by a series of bigger mined outlines. These outlines are called mining phases.

Whittle Three-D (1985)

Whittle Programming released Whittle Three-D in 1985. Using the famed Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm, it revolutionised the optimisation of surface mines around the world. Whittle Three-D determined for the first time, with mathematical precision, the optimal, three-dimensional shape for an open pit mine. Importantly, it maximised the total undiscounted cashflow, illustrating the point at which it was more economic to proceed to an underground mine. Whittle Three-D was used for mines with a life of up to three years.



Click here to view an archival copy of the Whittle Programming Three-D brochure

Whittle Four-D (1986)

In 1987, Whittle Four-D was released, incorporating time (the fourth dimension), risk and optimisation around Net Present Value (NPV). Whittle Four-D produced a nested set of 40-100 optimal pits based on potential economic scenarios and mining sequences. The user can quickly investigate an enormous variety of cut-off, scheduling, scaling and timing options within a financial analysis framework. Whittle Four-D aided in the design of pushbacks, wall slopes and the surface versus underground mining decision. It is used when the mine life is expected to be more than three years.

In 1987, Whittle Four-D won the Australian Technology Association Software Product of the Year Award. In 1992, Four-D won the Australian Design Award and was accepted into the Permanent Collection of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.



Click here to view an archival copy of the Whittle Programming Four-D brochure

Opti-Cut/SPCO (1995)

Opti-Cut was released in 1995, using Ken Lane’s concepts relating to cut-off grade. Opti-Cut was integral in allowing mining companies to be able to optimise cut-off grades over the life of the mine, maximising NPV by up to 10%. Applicable to both surface and underground projects, Opti-Cut also produces life of mine, cut-off, stockpile strategy, tonnages and cash flow plans.



Click here to view an archival copy of the Whittle Programming Opti-Cut brochure

Whittle Four-X (1997)

In 1997, Whittle Four-X was released, it had the added ability to handle multiple elements within the same orebody. Four- X has all the facilities of Four-D but extends these concepts. Four-X operates in a similar way, however unlike Four-D, it is not limited to handling just one product. Four-X will handle up to ten "elements," where each may or may not be a product and may or may not be the subject of a cut-off. When using Whittle Four- X, costs and recoveries can vary with the grade of any of the elements.



Click here to view an archival copy of the Whittle Programming Four-X brochure

Milawa (1988)

Named after Jeff Whittle’s favourite red wine making region of Australia, the Milawa algorithm was released and incorporated into Four- D in 1998. Milawa allowed the manipulation of the mining sequence to maximise the NPV over the life of the mine.



Click here to view an archival copy of the Whittle Programming Milawa brochure

Whittle Programming Marketing Archive

Whittle Programming produced a range of marketing collateral. In this section we have archived copies of these documents for historical purposes.



Click here to view an archival copy of the 1999 Whittle Programming Brochure

Section 6
Whittle Consulting – the story continues

  • 6.1 Whittle Consulting Milestones
  • 6.2 A family business develops into something more by Gerald Whittle
  • 6.3 The Whittle Consulting Seminar Story by Stephanie Jones

Whittle Consulting Milestones

  • 1999
    Whittle Consulting established
  • in Box Hill, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2004
    Lewis Tota joins Whittle Consulting, establishing the Technical Services Team
  • 2006
    Awarded AusIMM Minerals Industry Operating Technique Award (MIOTA).
  • 2006
    Jeff Whittle elected Fellow of the Australian Computer Society - Life Membership.
  • 2007
    Jeff Whittle named winner of Most Outstanding contribution to Mining from Australian Mining Prospect Awards
  • 2009
    The Whittle Consulting team expands to include additional Technical Services & Marketing personnel
  • 2009
    Development & launch of first INTEGRATED STRATEGIC PLANNING seminar, South Africa
  • 2011
    Expansion sees Whittle Consulting move to larger premises in Surrey Hills, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013
    Jeff Whittle inducted to International Mining Technology Hall of Fame – Mining Software.
  • 2015
    Prober - E launched
  • 2016
    Whittle Consulting run their 100th INTEGRATED STRATEGIC PLANNING seminar, Turkey
  • 2017
    Launch of Whittle Consulting Marketing rebrand
  • 2018
    Jeff Whittle awarded Order of Australia (AO)
  • 2019
    Whittle Consulting run their 150th INTEGRATED STRATEGIC PLANNING seminar, Sweden
  • 2019
    Whittle Consulting celebrate 20 years of operation

A family business develops into something more by Gerald Whittle

Ruth led a field trip for delegates at the third biennial conference, “Strategic Mine Planning” (March 1999) to the Boddington Mine, WA. This was the first time Gerald had been to a mine site.

The creation and development of a family business is by its’ very nature a deeply personal story. With the benefit of the hindsight of 2 decades, Gerald Whittle tells the story of the background, establishment and development of Whittle Consulting. His corporate story is one of courage, optimism, resilience and intellectual endeavour. It also runs in parallel with the dawn of a new era, as the international mining industry begins to appreciate the significant economic advantages for mining projects and operations who utilise Whittle Consulting services and software.



Click here to download Gerald's story

The Whittle Consulting Seminar Story by Stephanie Jones

The Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning seminar (formerly called the Money Mining Seminar) has been integral to the success of Whittle Consulting. Since 2009, it has been the primary method by which the company has “spread the word” about the incredible financial impact that Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning can have on mining projects and operations. For the past decade, Gerald Whittle has travelled around the world and has run the seminar over 150 times to approximately 3,000 participants. Always interesting and often challenging, our seminar is frequently a “lightbulb moment” for participants - changing forever the way they view and operate their mining businesses. In this story, Stephanie Jones, our Marketing Manager tells her story about organising and developing our seminar.



Click here to download Stephanie’s story

Section 7
The history of our software – Whittle Consulting

  • 7.1 Whittle Consulting Software Timeline
  • 7.2 Z3
  • 7.3 Prober-A
  • 7.4 Prober-B
  • 7.5 Prober-64 bit
  • 7.6 Prober-C + Enterprise Optimisation
  • 7.7 Prober-C + Evolutionary Solver
  • 7.8 Prober-E (C++)
  • 7.9 Cloud Processing

Whittle Consulting Software Timeline


Z3 (1999)

Multi-pit blending scheduler

Z3 was the combination of a mathematical search algorithm that worked in conjunction with a linear programming evaluation routine. The search algorithm sampled feasible, alternative life-of-mine mining plans. This evaluation determined the optimal cut-off grade, stockpiling, processing selection, blending and production plan that the specified mining plan could support – as well as determining the NPV. Based on the NPV feedback, the search algorithm applied complex decision rules to focus on combinations of mining variables. Good results were further applied and poor combinations, showing poor results, were discarded. Z3 was used to routinely optimise models with several thousand mining variables and many more processing variables.

Prober-A (2003)

Multi-pit/underground, processing, products

The development of Prober-A was a major new release, proving to be a step-change in the Whittle Programming software arsenal.

Prober-A used the same input file as Z3, but optimised using the new Prober algorithm.

Prober-B (2006)

The Global Optimiser

Finding an optimal, or near optimal, long-term schedule for a very large mining complex can be computationally difficult. This is not only because of the size of the problem - but because of its complexity. Prober B is a multi-pit blending scheduler software. It was designed for complex, simultaneous, optimisation modelling of cut-off and stockpiling. Developed to cope with large problems, Prober-B works by repeatedly creating a random initial feasible schedule. It then iteratively uses linear programming to globally optimise the mine in question.

Prober-64 bit (2008)

Unlimited dimensions, capital

The development of Prober-64 bit was a step-change in the capacity of Whittle software. With its’ added capability from 32 to 64-bit CPU processing, Prober-64 bit unleashed the power of almost unlimited computational capacity. Removing the 2 gigabytes of memory limitation, Prober was significantly enhanced allowing for large and complex problems to be presented to the software. This meant that for the first time the power of dimensions could be applied within the Prober-64-bit software. Capital Capacity Optimisation was added to Prober, enabling Prober to buy/expand extra capacity on a limit, if, and when, it is required.

Prober-C + Enterprise Optimisation (2010)

More sophisticated modelling

The combination of Enterprise Optimisation and Prober-C was a game changer for many of our clients. Prober-C enables intricate modelling of multiple steps in the mining value chain, bringing technologies such as mine-to-mill, selective blasting, ore sorting, and complex comminution strategies into the strategic planning process. In its’ previous iteration, Prober-B only had 3 steps (i.e. mining, processing and products). Prober-C unlocked the power of applying an unlimited number of Mining/Processing/Blending steps to the equation. This meant that modeling could more precisely mirror the mining operation under consideration.

Prober-C + Evolutionary Solver (2014)

Whittle combined the Evolutionary Solver (Genetic Algorithm) with Prober-C for highly iterative operations like underground cut-off selection and phase selection in pits. Prober-C, a Whittle proprietary algorithm, optimises mining enterprise systems. However, Prober-C cannot directly optimise systems where there are sets of discrete Either/Or choices to be made, (e.g. to mine either a high-grade version, medium-grade version or low-grade version of the same pit or underground stope.)

When there are many such choices to be made a genetic algorithm is used to find the best combination of choices. In broad terms, genetic algorithms are inspired by Darwin’s theory of natural selection. In this case the genetic algorithm selects the “best” or “fittest” for NPV. The lowest NPV selections are abandoned and the best NPV selections are recombined. Some random mutations are introduced to ensure genetic “diversity.” The process is repeated to create outcomes for higher and higher NPV. This computational ability was then “wrapped around” Prober-C to create an added level of functionality.

Prober-E (C++) (2015)

The development of Prober-E in 2015, was undertaken to “future-proof” the Whittle proprietary software. By moving from a Fortran-based program to the newer technology of C++ allowed the elegance, beauty and strength of Prober to be re-written in contemporary computer language. This has opened up the Prober software to be a part of the development of future IT trends, ensuring that the software will maintain its cutting-edge capacity both now and into the future.

Cloud Processing (2016)

The development of Cloud Processing has been a watershed for all forms of IT technology. Whittle Consulting has also harnessed the incredible capacity of Cloud processing and access by developing a system that can run Prober from the cloud. This evolution in processing, has ensured that proprietary Whittle software can be scaled up to harness the almost unlimited power of the additional computational capacity of the cloud, as and when required.

Section 8
The theories & concepts that underpin us

  • 8.1 The algorithm that sparked a new industry
  • 8.2 Jeff Whittle learns about the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm
  • 8.3 The theories that define our software
  • 8.4 What is Activity-Based Costing?
  • 8.5 What is Theory of Constraints?
  • 8.6 Ken Lane – a mine optimisation pioneer

The algorithm that sparked a new industry


Helmut Lerchs
Ingo Grossmann

The Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm emerged in 1964 as the key to finding the optimum design for an open pit mine. Based on Graph Theory, it was designed by two mathematicians, Helmut Lerchs & Ingo Grossmann, who were working together at IBM in Canada. In their words at the time, “the objective is to design the contour of a pit so as to maximise the difference between total mine value of the ore extracted & the total extraction cost of ore & waste.”

Jeff Whittle learns about the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm


Jeff Whittle & Helmut Lerchs in Montreal 1993

Jeff Whittle came across the Lerchs-Grossmann papers in 1984, while working for Newmont Australia. Jeff knew of the need to use the renowned algorithm and recognised the important application that this could have within the mining industry.

In many ways, his discovery of the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm crystallised Jeff’s lifetime of work experience. With a decade of experience at Melbourne's Monash University in the computer centre in the 1970’s, and a further 10 years refining his skills within the mining industry, Jeff had the right experience and the right skill set - all at the right time. Aged in his 50’s and inspired by the challenge, Jeff know that he could apply the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm with emerging computer modelling to write a practical and elegant mining optimisation programme. Of course, the rest is history…

Jeff Whittle met Helmut Lerchs once in Montreal in 1993. Unfortunately, he didn't get to meet Ingo Grossmann before he passed away in 1995. Helmut Lerchs died in Canada in 2017.

The theories that define our software


In the past, many mining operators had utilised a range of costing methodologies & planning mechanisms within their mine planning. Under the Whittle approach, two new concepts were fully applied to the mining industry for the first time. These concepts included Activity-Based Costing (ABC) & the Theory of Constraints (TOC). The application of these techniques revolutionised mine planning, creating a powerful analytical approach for decision-making across all aspects of a mining operation.

What is Activity-Based Costing (ABC)?

Definition: Cost modelling based on activities performed & their relevant cost drivers, plus a distinction between period/fixed & attributable/variable costs.

Activity-based Costing (ABC) more accurately reflects the cause-and-effect relationship between activity costs and the cost drivers to which they are attributable within an operation. Whittle Consulting applies ABC by:

  • Identifying the key “activities” that incur costs
  • Identifying the appropriate “cost driver” for each activity.
  • Creating a complete model which recognises “front line”, “support” and “back line” activities in a logical manner.
  • Calculating the “fully loaded” cost of front line activities, which can then be accurately applied to operational “cost objects.”
  • Ultimately identifying the “Fixed Cost” or “Period Cost” of each activity at full capacity.
  • Comparing these costs to a lower level of activity within the “Relevant Range” of operation.

What is Theory of Constraints (TOC)?

Definition: A concept that views any manageable system has being limited in achieving its goals by a very small number of constraints.

Theory of Constraints (TOC) recognises that processes and organisations are vulnerable to their weakest link. This can adversely affect the performance of the entire operation. Whittle Consulting strategically applies TOC to:

  • Identify the primary and secondary bottlenecks to cash flow (the goal) within the system.
  • Identify what the true nature of the characteristics of the bottlenecks.
  • Optimise the performance of the bottlenecks by aligning the operating policy of the entire system to the characteristics of the bottlenecks.
  • Subordinate everything else – increasing activity in non-bottleneck areas is a waste of time or is even destructive.
  • Elevate the bottleneck until it is no longer a bottleneck.
  • Once successful – start all over again with the new bottleneck!
  • Continue until the ultimate bottleneck is where it should be in a design sense. This will be the most capital-intensive part of the system or the market itself.
We recommend reading “The Goal – A Process of Ongoing Improvement,” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. ISBN: 978-0-88427-178-9.

Ken Lane – a mine optimisation pioneer


Ken Lane & Ruth Whittle, 1999

Ken Lane was one of the pioneers & a leading proponent of mining optimisation. He is the author of one of the seminal books & a standard reference work within the mining industry, "The Economic Definition of Ore." Elaborating on the theory originally developed in 1964, this book provides a thorough & comprehensive description of the theory & practice of implementing cut-off grades within a mining operation. The book explains how & why cut-off grade optimisation can often lead to substantial improvements in the value of mining projects. Still in print after over 50 years, this work has been the bedrock of mining practice & is one of the few reference books on mine optimisation. It has also been foundational to the development of Whittle Consulting software. Jeff Whittle has met Ken Lane on several occasions over the years.

We recommend reading “The Economic Definition of Ore. Cut-Off Grades in Theory & Practice” by Kenneth F. Lane. ISBN-13: 978-0994185235

Section 9
Whittle Consulting – service offering

  • 9.1 What is Integrated Strategic Planning?
  • 9.2 The 10 Steps of a Whittle Enterprise Optimisation Model
  • 9.3 The Whittle Consulting Integrated Strategic Planning Seminar
  • 9.4 Whittle Consulting Services
  • 9.5 Objectives & Outcomes

What is Integrated Strategic Planning?

Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning is a concept of long-term planning which considers:

  • All parts of the value chain – from the mineral resource to the market.
  • All periods – a decision of what to mine & process in one period affects the options for the other periods.
  • All stakeholders – shareholders are interested in financial returns in the form of cash flow & capital growth. However, the interests of employees, local communities, the government & the environment must all be considered to earn an enduring licence to operate.



Click here to watch a video explaining Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning

The 10 Steps of a Whittle Enterprise Optimisation Model

Enterprise optimisation results in a single, integrated model that consolidates existing knowledge & data from disparate systems. The Whittle Enterprise Optimisation model uses:

  • Detailed metallurgical recovery relationships & Activity Based Costing (ABC) to construct a “Net Value” model of the ore body.
  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) to develop a comprehensive model of the entire system, concentrating on describing the real nature of the bottlenecks.
  • Optimisation software (Prober-E) to identify strategies that increases the flow of Net Value through the bottlenecks in the system, to maximise the rate of cash generation.
As your data, knowledge & experience grows over time, so too will your Whittle Enterprise Optimisation model.



Click here to watch a video explaining Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning

The Whittle Consulting Integrated Strategic Planning Seminar

“A unique approach to optimising project value & cash flow returns… this is well worth attendance & highly recommended.”

John Meyer, SP Angel, London

The 2-day Integrated Strategic Planning Seminar comprehensively explains the philosophy & methodology of Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning. It includes an explanation of the process involved & the benefits derived from developing a Whittle Enterprise Optimisation model. The seminar presents a framework for cross-functional business collaboration which can be extended to all stakeholders. The ideal approach is for senior managers from all business disciplines to attend the seminar together. Participation in the seminar is either a final step in deciding whether to embark on an Enterprise Optimisation study, or the first step in doing it. Since it’s conception in 2009, over 3,000 participants have attended the seminar worldwide.


Click here for information on upcoming dates & watch our seminar videos

Whittle Consulting Services

  • The Integrated Strategic Planning seminar (2 days) – this seminar explains the philosophy & methodology of Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning & the processes involved & the benefits derived from developing a Whittle Enterprise Optimisation model.
  • Strategic Assessments (3-5 days) – a short exercise designed to discuss & explore the potential of Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning for your business.
  • Activity Based Costing (ABC) & Theory of Constraints (TOC) analysis & design (2-5 days) - This project designs an integrated ABC & TOC model for your business.
  • Enterprise Optimisation (typically 12-20 weeks) – a comprehensive study involving data collection, modelling, optimisation & analysis. Involves building of a Base Case optimisation model, an Optimised Case & finally, consideration of a variety of Scenarios tailored to your business.
  • KPI/Management Reporting Information Systems (design & advice) – Whittle Consulting can participate, advise, lead or engage external partners, as required.
  • Ongoing review & assessment - We can assist you to regularly review & update your Enterprise Optimisation model.
  • Implementation support – Our network of alliance partners can assist with the implementation of your Enterprise Optimisation model.
Click here to download a copy of our Service Offering brochure

Objectives & Outcomes


Mining businesses have many reasons for exploring Whittle Integrated Strategic Planning. Some of the most common objectives include to:

  1. Improve cash flow
  2. Increase Net Present Value (NPV) of a project or operation
  3. Support Pre-feasibility Studies (PFS) & Feasibility Studies (FS)
  4. Guide investment decisions
  5. Raise finance
  6. Achieve sustainable operations
  7. Respond to market & contextual changes
  8. Perform due diligence (DD) &/or validate current plans
  9. Design management processes & systems
  10. Focus Big Data
  11. Identify bottlenecks & leverage points
  12. Embrace complexity
  13. Enable Business Improvement (BI)
  14. Rescue distressed assets
  15. Harness innovation

Click here for detailed explanations for each objective & outcome

Section 10
Stories from the coal-face

  • 10.1 My connection with Whittle Optimisation by Doug Stewart
  • 10.2 The story of how Lady Bountiful lived up to her name by Norm Hanson
  • 10.3 How Whittle software gave mining a valuable roadmap by Richard Wooller

My connection with Whittle Optimisation

by Doug Stewart

The story of mine optimisation is a tale of trial, error & endeavour. As a mining advisor, Doug Stewart was one of the first “early adopters” of Whittle software. His story outlines the evolution of mine optimisation since the 1960’s & the game-changing role that Jeff Whittle & Whittle software has played. He believes that when Jeff Whittle released Whittle Three-D in 1985 that he probably made the greatest value-add to the mining industry ever contributed by a single person.



Click here to download Doug’s story

The story of how Lady Bountiful lived up to her name

by Norm Hanson

The early days of mining in Australia in the 1980’s was a heady time. Australia was a land of mining opportunity for those who had the nerve for risk. In this story, Norm Hanson tells of his work in the industry & how the introduction of new & novel ideas, like mine optimisation, were first introduced.



Click here to download Norm’s story

How Whittle software gave mining a valuable roadmap

by Richard Wooller

Whittle software has been at the forefront of the development of the modern mining industry. In this story, Richard Wooller, explains his first interface with Whittle Three-D & later Whittle Four-D in the late 1980’s. Whittle software has been invaluable in showing mining engineers how to get to the resource & civil engineers what to do with it once it was located!



Click here to download Richard’s story

Section 11
In Black & White

  • 11.1 When your name becomes a verb – Computer Excellence 1991
  • 11.2 Computer aided open cut mining – Tomorrow’s World 1993
  • 11.3 Jeff Whittle says algorithm can help boost cashflow of mines – The Australian 2012
  • 11.4 Mining Software, Jeff Whittle - International Mining Hall of Fame 2013
  • 11.5 Surface Mine Production, Lerchs & Grossmann – International Mining Hall of Fame 2013
  • 11.6 Surface Mining, Ken Lane – International Mining Hall of Fame 2016
  • 11.7 An algorithm for the ages – CIM Magazine 2018
  • 11.8 Glossary

When your name becomes a verb

Chapter 12 taken from “Computer Excellence - Computer companies in Australia are seeking and attaining EXCELLENCE”

Edited by Brett Whitford, Beaumont Publishing House, Western Australia 1991.

In the chapter from this book, John Wilson interviews Jeff and Ruth Whittle and discusses their personal and professional history and the fantastic story of the development of Whittle Programming.



Click here to download this chapter from the book

Computer aided open cut mining

Tomorrow’s World, 1993

In 1993, the Australian government prepared a publication called Tomorrow’s World. The Australian Initiative.  The publication was prepared to showcase to potential overseas markets, Australian world-first products and technologies, the people who conceived them, and the companies who commercialised them. Whittle Programming was delighted when both the company and the  Whittle Four-D software was selected for inclusion in this publication.



Click here to download this article

Jeff Whittle says his algorithm can help boost cashflow of mines

By Blair Speedy; The Australian, December 17, 2012

In this article, Jeff Whittle is interviewed by Blair Speedy from The Australian about how his mining algorithm can change the profit potential of the international mining industry.



Click here to download this article

Mining Software - Jeff Whittle

Published by International Mining Technology Hall of Fame, 2013

In 2013, Jeff Whittle was inducted into the Hall of Fame for International Mining Magazine (IM). In the citation, Jeff was quoted as being a man who has had a revolutionary impact on the mining industry, especially as a being a pioneer of strategic mine planning



Click here to download article

Surface Mine Production – Helmut Lerchs & Ingo Grossmann

Published by International Mining Technology Hall of Fame, 2013

Maptek Vulcan Pit Optimiser

International Mining (IM) is a global publication covering mining and minerals processing technology, methods, equipment and service. Each year the publication honours individuals who have made significant contributions to the mining industry. In 2013, the publication honoured the contributions of Helmut Lerchs and Ingo Grossmann and their breakthrough algorithm used by Jeff Whittle in the development of Whittle software.



Click here to download article

Surface Mining – Ken Lane

Published by International Mining Technology Hall of Fame, 2016

Ken Lane & Ruth Whittle 1999

International Mining (IM) is a global publication covering mining and minerals processing technology, methods, equipment and service. Each year the publication honours individuals who have made significant contributions to the mining industry. In 2016, the publication honoured the contribution of Kenneth F. Lane. The work of Ken Lane was instrumental in the development of value-based mining optimisation, and in particular the field of cut-off grade.



Click here to download article

An algorithm for the ages - How one paper in the CIM Bulletin launched a discipline

By Ryan Bergen, CIM Magazine March 28, 2018

In this article, CIM Magazine acknowledges the role that the publication of the paper by Helmut Lerchs and Ingo Grossmann of their mine modelling algorithm entitled “Optimum Design of Open-Pit Mines” in the January 1965 edition of the CIM Magazine has played in the development of mine pit optimisation. It was this paper that sparked Jeff Whittle’s interest in mine optimisation and which ultimately led to the birth of a new and exciting era in international mining.



Click here to download article

Mining Optimisation Glossary

 

To assist you with mining optimisation terminology please CLICK HERE to view our glossary

Feedback & Contributions

We invite you to share your feedback and contributions to the Whittle Story Live Book.

Please email any written contributions, photographs or other content to info@whittleconsulting.com.au

Disclaimer

The Whittle Story Live Book contains information about the history and development of Whittle Programming and Whittle Consulting. We believe each item included in The Whittle Story Live Book to be a true record of events. However, as the articles contained herein are personal records of historical events, these may vary due to differences in individual experience. The information provided is an attempt to record the corporate history for posterity and is not advice, and therefore should not be treated as such.