You can turn teamwork into success: Plan…Do…Review

Planning and Doing (Implementation) come natural to us. However, setting time aside and reviewing what has been done or implemented is not common practice. Always stick with the process step that you are at the time. When you are planning stage, do not do any of the other two things. The same goes for the Doing and Reviewing part. You will save on nerves, effort and money if you do the well.

The most vital component to a successful team task is the review process. It is the most frequent overlooked task in any project you need to undertake. Some projects may make great progress at first and then later fail because along the course of anything you do in business there will always be some tweaking along the way and no one ever took the time to include this in a review phase. The “tweaking” changes the dynamics of a project and if no one takes time to record what, why and how it happened you will not be able to capture why the results were different than expected. This is extremely frustrating for everyone and wastes resources with a direct impact on the net bottom line because you will never know why you failed, or worse why you had success.

Think of how many team based projects you may have been involved in that did not provide the desired results. I venture saying that the vast majority of them failed because no one thought of drawing the line at the beginning of the project and ask that there be a time line, a set of criteria for the results be reviewed and measurements. This normally leads to so called open ended projects. This is one of the biggest morale busters as the involved people will not be able to conclude anything. Something that was supposed to be only a temporary or experimental measure now has become the permanent solution without openly and officially saying so. One of the most important items any employee is looking for in an organization is that his or her contributions are “worth” the effort and make a difference. How is the employee ever going to figure this out if you never conclude the project? A winning company turns the knowledge from a finished project into common practice. Working for a winning company is equally important to an employee.

Another such waste comes from not paying attention to what phase you are in. What I mean by that is that most teams get so far ahead of themselves and start doing without thoroughly finishing the planning session. Did you ever paint a room in your house or apartment? Well, then you know what I am talking about. It takes so much more effort and mostly time to prepare for the painting, than it does to do the actual painting. Make sure that you have covered the must-have items of a successful endeavor such as mission, goal, strategy, tactics, responsibilities, authority, timeline and the most important one: measurements. Take this into account when you form a team for a specific task. Make sure to allow ample time for the team to plan the course of the project and only then start thinking about the implementation part. Do not mix up the project phases. When you plan – plan; when you do – do; do not forget to review – just review and do not start revising your plan in the midst of it. Finish it well by recognizing the contributions made and that the project either did or did not turn into common practice.

A plan is only a plan as long as you stick to your plan. Otherwise it is a new one. Do not get me wrong here. I am not advocating that you go through with a project when a team recognizes that it makes no sense. But I am saying that you need to adhere to the distinctly different process phases of your project once you have all bought into the course of action. Otherwise you will diminish your success rate of any project.

Ralf Weiser

Rebranding Professor Dr Georges Matheron

Dr Frederik P Agterberg tried to do so when he sang the praises of Professor Dr Georges Matheron and called him the Founder of Spatial Statistics. The keepers of Matheron`s magnum opus at his own Centre de Géostatistique didn`t quite see eye to eye with Agterberg`s rebranding. Matheron`s disciples were taught to hold him in the highest regard as the Creator of Geostatistics. It was Matheron himself who called geostatistics a new science in the early 1960s. Here`s in a nutshell what had inspired Matheron so much in his most creative of days. He taught that, “geologists stress structure and statisticians stress randomness”. I liked that a lot. I would have liked it even more had Matheron shown how to test for absence or presence of structure. All it would have taken is to apply Fisher’s F-test to the variance of a set of measured values and the first variance term of the ordered set. He would have had to count the number of degrees of freedom for each set. That was a bit of a problem. Matheron and his following never got around to counting degrees of freedom.

On a positive note, Matheron did test for associative dependence between lead and silver grades of drill core samples. This test may well have been the very reason why Matheron thought he was a statistician. His 1954 Formule des Minerais Connexes is indeed marked Note Statistique No 1. In his Rectificatif à la Note Statistique No 1, Matheron derived weighted average lead and silver grades. What he failed to derive were variances of weighted average lead and silver grades. So, I am quite pleased that the  Centre de Géostatistique has posted so much of Matheron’s work. On the negative side, its webmaster saw fit to predate the evolution of Matheron’s new science of geostatistics. That’s why his very first paper did end up as Note Géostatistique No 1. Providentially, his 1954 Formule des Minerais Connexes and its Rectificatif are still marked Note Statistique No 1.

So it was that Matheron didn’t take to working with the Central Limit Theorem. David did recall the famous Central Limit Theorem in his 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation. He didn’t much work with it either. A critical subject that failed to make Matheron’s list of things to teach is one-to-one correspondence between functions and variances. Yet, it is a condition sine qua non in mathematical statistics. It is no wonder then that the properties of variances are beyond the grasp of the geostatistical fraternity. I have never thought much of Professor Dr Georges Matheron’s thinking. Whenever I do think of Matheron, I remember him as a self-made wizard of odd statistics.

Professor Dr Michel David took a shine to Matheron’s new science of geostatistics. David did so while he was teaching at l’École Polytechnique, University de Montréal, Québec, Canada. And he did predict that ‘statisticians would find many unqualified statements’ in his 1977 Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation. He didn’t predict he couldn’t care less if someone pointed out what was wrong and why. Some twenty years ago I did but few cared. So, I’ll just keep doing it again and again! Chapter 10 The Practice of Kriging shows how to do more with fewer boreholes by paying no attention at all to the rules of mathematical statistics.

Fig. 203. Pattern showing all the points within B,
which are estimated from the same nine holes.

David borrowed the above figure from Maréchal and Serra’s 1970 Random Kriging. Both were scholars at Matheron’s Centre de Morphology Mathématique. Here’s word for word what I have come to call David’s test for geostatistical acuity. “Writing all the necessary covariances for that system of equations is a good test to find out whether one really understands geostatistics”. I have pointed out that a good test to find out whether one really understands mathematical statistics is to count the number of degrees of freedom for David’s system of equations. The correct count is zero! That’s how Matheron and his timid minions took reserve and resource estimation into a dead-end street.

But even more bad science pops up in Chapter 12 Orebody Modelling. In Section 12.2 Conditional Simulation, David wrote about the infinite set of simulated values. He wonders how to make infinite sets smaller and get models closer to reality. In Section 12.2.1 Using a Simulated Model, he wrote about some pudding proof and a posteriori proved simulations. But nobody cries out loud in the face of such blatant nonsense. What are the odds to win when playing 649?

So, why then did Agterberg try to rebrand Matheron the Founder of Spatial Statistics after he had passed away? Now that’s a long story. The short of it is that there are many more geoscientists than geologists on our little planet. Remember global warming? And how to assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets? That’s what way too many geoscientists are taught. Stay tuned for real statistics. And tune out to surreal geostatistics.

One more message to CIM’s President

CIM stands for Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. Once upon a time I was a proud CIM Member. Today I am the accidental CIM Life Member. My first message to CIM`s President was snail mailed on March 20, 1992. CIM`s President was William E Stanley of The Coopers & Lybrand Group in Vancouver. He was the first of many whom I had told why geostatistics is an invalid variant of applied statistics. We met, he listened to my story, and I wrote him a letter. CIM Bulletin of March 1989 had published Armstrong and Champigny’s A Study on kriging Small Blocks. Both authors were at that time geostatistical scholars at the Centre de Géostatistique, France. They thought up the study since, “The kriging variance rises up to a maximum and then drops off.” What they found out is that “…mine planners are often tempted to kriging very small blocks.” How about that? Smoothing a little is good but smoothing very small blocks is bad. That sort of a pass-the-buck study did pass David’s peer review with red flags blazing.

Early in 1990 we found out that Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves was rejected. Our paper showed how to test for spatial dependence between gold grades of ordered rounds in a drift. David’s 1977 textbook didn’t show how to test for spatial dependence, or how to count degrees of freedom. Neither did his work show how to derive unbiased confidence limits for metal contents and grades of in-situ ores. So, I put Geostatistics or Voodoo Science on paper, and The Northern Miner printed it on March 20, 1992. Champigny was no longer a geostatistical scholar at the Centre de Géostatistique in France but a Senior Consultant with The Coopers & Lybrand Group in Toronto. He never lost his passion for kriging and smoothing. As a matter of fact, he rounded up a team of anonymous ore reserve practitioners to stand on guard against the rise and fall of kriging variances. What he and his team did prove was that the properties of variances were far beyond their grasp. The Northern Miner put Champigny’s rambling tale in print on May 18, 1992. Armstrong went beyond the pale and lectured on scientific integrity in De Geostatisticis of July 1992.

Following is the text of my emessage of January 13, 2010, to Michael J Allen, CIM’s President, Vice President, Engineering, with Teck Corporation, Member of APEGBC and SME, and a CIM Fellow:

About twenty years ago I reported to CIM that geostatistics is an invalid variant of applied statistics. Geostatistocrats with CIM Bulletin promptly put up a spirited battle to salvage the new science of geostatistics. And a fine job they did! Matheron’s madness of surreal geostatistics even survived the Bre-X fraud. Statistics turned into geostatistics under the guidance of Professor Dr Georges Matheron, a French probabilist who became a self-made wizard of odd statistics in the 1950s. A brief history of my 20-year campaign against the geostatocracy and its army of degrees of freedom fighters is chronicled on my website.

Dr Frederik P Agterberg, Past President, International Association for Mathematical Geosciences formerly know as International Association for Mathematical Geology, called Matheron (1930-2000) the Founder of Spatial Statistics. Agterberg ranked Matheron on a par with giants of real statistics such as Sir Ronald A Fisher (1890-1962) and Professor Dr J W Tukey (1915-2000). Agterberg was wrong! Matheron fumbled the variance of the length-weighted average in 1954. Agterberg himself fumbled the variance of the distance-weighted average first in his 1970 Autocorrelation Functions in Geology and once more in his 1974 Geomathematics. Agterberg is Emeritus Scientist with Natural Resources Canada. He ought to but has yet to explain why his distance-weighted average point grade does not have a variance. After all, Gemcom‘s geostatistical software converted Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock into a massive phantom gold resource. I applied Fisher’s F-test to prove that the intrinsic variance of Bre-X’s phantom gold resource was statistically identical to zero. Duplicate test results for gold by cyanide leaching determined in a few boreholes would have been enough to unravel the Bre-X fraud in a timely manner.

I make a clear and concise case for real statistics. Test for spatial dependence by applying Fisher’s F-test to the variance of a set of measured values and the first variance term of the ordered set. Chart a sampling variogram to show where spatial dependence in a sample space (or in a sampling unit) dissipates into randomness. We applied Fisher’s F-test in Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves. And we did it again in our APCOM 2009 paper entitled Metrology in Mineral Exploration.

Geostatisticians assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets, interpolate by kriging, smooth some kind of least biased subset of an infinite set of Agterberg’s zero-dimensional and variance-deprived distance-weighted average point grades AKA kriged estimates or kriged estimators, and rig the rules of real statistics with reckless abandon. I urge CIM to investigate whether or not geostatistics is a scientific fraud. I do so as a CIM Life Member. Please do not assume that CIM need not resolve this matter.

To strip or not to strip?

CIM Bulletin approved Abuse of Statistics for publication. Dr Frits Agterberg wanted to know when and where Wells spoke so highly about statistical thinking. I wasn’t about when Wells said what he did. What I do know is that Darrell Huff said Wells did. That’s good enough for me. Huff did so in his 1954 How to Lie with Statistics. It was the very same year that young Matheron didn’t know how to test for spatial dependence between metal grades of ordered core samples, how to derive the variance of the set of metal grades, and how to derive the variance of the central value of the set. Huff never found out what Matheron did wrong. But then, neither did Matheron himself! And Agterberg, Armstrong, David, Journel and scores of geostatistocrats never broke rank with Matheron.

I want to move fast forward to the present. Michael J Allan, CIM President in 2010, writes under President’s Notes about A time of renewal. Let’s read what else he wrote. “Our work in providing standard reserve and resource definitions that are used by the country’s securities regulators is an example of the ongoing technical contributions CIM makes to the industry at large”. For heaven’s sake! Geostatistics is as alive and flawed as it was in the 1970s. So it seems that CIM is not about to kill the incredible kriging machine. For infinite sets of kriged estimates and zero kriging variances set the stage for boundless krige and smooth fests. APEGBC ‘s Code of Ethics is not written to rule against scientific fraud. What will kill the kriging machine is the study of climate dynamics on our little planet. No ifs and buts!

Whatever happened to Setting New Standards?

The Bre-X fraud brought about an orgy of hand wringing but not even a token search for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The Ontario Securities Commission and the Toronto Stock Exchange set up a Mining Standards Task Force. Morley P Carscallen, OSC`s Commissioner, and John W Carson, TSE`s Senior Vice President, called on Canadian mining experts to set new standards. Of course, the old standards were dreadfully wrong. All it took was to assume gold between salted boreholes. That’s how Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock added up to a phantom gold resource! So what did the Mining Standards Task Force do? It wrote a load of text but little else. Here’s why!

Hardcore krigers and cocksure smoothers were silent after Bre-X had gone bust. So much so that none served on the task force. They would have had a tough time to explain why kriging variances rise first and then fall. Or to prove why spatial dependence may be assumed without proof. Without genuine geostatisticians on board the task force was in limbo. The more so since I had proved that Bre-X was a salting scam. My son and I had shown in 1992 how to verify spatial dependence by applying Fisher’s F-test to the variance of test results for gold determined in bulk samples taken from a set of rounds in a drift, and the first variance term of the ordered set. Stanford’s Journel wrote to Professor Dr R Ehrlich, Editor, Journal of Mathematics Geology, (in those days!) that I am, “… too encumbered with Fischerian (sic) statistics.” I confess to have worked with Fisher’s F-test most of my life. So what?

The Mining Standard Task Force was put to work in July 1997. MSTF released its Interim Report in June 1998, and published its Final Report in January 1999. MSTF’s Final Report is high on verbiage but low on sound sampling practices and proven statistical methods.

It took a while to find out that Setting New Standards had done nothing to improve sampling practices in mineral exploration. The task force could have but did not show how to derive unbiased confidence limits for metal contents and grades of mineral inventories. Sadly, geostatistics was very much alive when I looked at CIM’s website under APCOM 2009. The program for this event set the stage for another krige-and-smooth bash. But this time the stage was set on my home turf. The scientific fraud behind the Bre-X fraud was alive and well ten years after MSTF’s Final Report had been released. It is as much alive as it was on Journel’s watch in 1992. So much for setting new standards!

I dug into my data base and retrieved test results for gold and silver determined in pairs of interleaved bulk samples taken from 1 m³ volumes of crushed gossan ore mined from a vertical pit. I had designed this sampling program to test for spatial dependence, to derive confidence limits for gold and silver contents and grades, and to estimate the intrinsic variances of gold and silver. The same test proved that the intrinsic variance of gold in Bre-X’s gold resource was statistically identical to zero. My son and I submitted to APCOM 2009 for review a paper on Metrology in Mineral Exploration. It was accepted as “a highly specialized topic reserved for the advanced geostatistician.” How about that!

My coauthor was talking about EMF in Europe. His presentation turned out to be of interest at L’Ecole des Mines in Nantes. So, his mom and my partner for life listened to my APCOM 2009 talk in Vancouver, BC. I asked again why the variance of Agterberg’s distance-weighted average point grade had gone missing. The question was met with solemn silence. My spouse got some kind of revised textbook on a CD. Long ago I had bought a copy of the first edition. What it taught me was not to mess around with sloppy semi-variograms. That’s why I took a systematic walk between “measured values”, tested for spatial dependence between hypothetical uranium concentrations, and counted degrees of freedom properly.

NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist is loath to bring back the long-lost variance of his distance-weighted average point grade. But then, how could JMG’s Editor-in-Chief possibly do what Rio Tinto wants him to do if each and every weighted average point grade were to have its own variance? He may need but a few boreholes. But what he does need most of all are infinite sets of distance-weighted average point grades to play with by hook or by crook. I really don’t give a fiddle about JMG’s Editor-in-Chief and his models. What I want is a world free of Matheron’s mad science of geostatistics.

I agree with H G Wells. I like statistical thinking. And I like to write about it. A good grasp of statistics is needed to bridge the gap between sampling theory and sampling practice. I have written a great deal about spatial dependence in sample spaces and sampling units. I want to write much more. My website gets a load of traffic. I blog for fun and play mind games when I do. I found out in 2007 that geostatistics plays a role in the study of climate change. It was some Canadian hockey stick that struck a panic button around the world. The study of climate change is much more relevant to the world than unbiased mineral inventories are to mining investors. Securities commissions ought to set rules and regulations that protect the public at large against all sorts of scientific frauds. The kriging machine will be shredded as soon as the ugly factoids are clear to mining investors. Surely, geoscientists should apply classical statistics when they study climate change. After all, functions without variances are as dead as dodos. CRIRSCO does not think so but I know!

And They Keep This Woman Interested In Conveyors

Not our world famous DSI Snake Sandwich High Angle Conveyor, but an overland conveyor this time.  I’ll just go ahead and cut to the chase.  Diamonds got me last time.  So what goes best with diamonds?  Well of course the precious metals that holds those gorgeous stones.  The stuff that’s going to diversify your portfolio because it’s worth so much now.  That’s right…GOLD!

So here’s what’s been going on.  Dos Santos International is currently finishing up the Los Filos Project that was awarded in cooperation with M3 Engineering of Tuscon, AZ.  Goldcorp’s Los Filos Project is in the Nukay mining district of central Guerrero State in southern Mexico.  It promises to be one of the largest open-pit mines in the country.  It reminds me of our diamond mine project in Canada.  Those systems are contributing to projects that are projected to overtake South Africa as the new primary source of diamonds for the world.  See, we like to do things bigger and better around here!

Originally, there was a system that conveyed the ore from the crushing plant to the leach pads via a glory hole ore pass and an underground conveyor, through the hill.  An agglomeration drum mixed in the agglomerate before final delivery to the leach pads.  The system experienced material flow problems right from the start, especially during heavy rains.  The sticky ore tended to plug up the ore pass.  Geological instability ultimately collapsed the ore pass, putting the transport system out of service after only four months of operation.

So to keep it worth its weight, Goldcorp had to find another alternate to truck haulage which is way too expensive.   That’s when they asked M3 Engineering  to develop an alternate conveying route.  M3 put their trust in DSI and we figured out the most logical, most direct and of course economical path.  Instead of going under that hill, we planned to go right over it because….well…frankly…WE CAN!  That path required a down-hill high angle conveyor.  We called it the DSI G.P.S. (Gently Pressed Sandwich) High Angle Conveyor.   We were ready in March 2009 to proceed, but wouldn’t you know it…the instability on that hill wouldn’t allow it.  Back to the drawing board!

This time a conventional conveyor system was developed, following the already developed truck ramps.  DSI expertise proved particularly advantageous on this project.  The original ten-conveyor-flight system was rationalized to only seven flights by amalgamating with horizontal curves.  The third conveyor flight is specially engineered to accomplish the agglomeration by mixing through five intermediate tripped transfers.  This route agglomeration, conceived by Goldcorp, resulted in substantial savings by eliminating the need for the additional agglomerating drum.

The overland conveying path is mostly downhill.  While this presents the normal controlled starting and stopping problems, it also creates great savings opportunities.  The downhill flights are decisively regenerative.  Also, the drive motors, now generators, will feed power back into the grid which can be used to power other mine equipment.  These carefully engineered conveyors will be equipped with variable frequency drives to ensure operations at maximum efficiency (by pryor).   There we go being “green” again!

So my interests have gone from diamonds to gold and Dos Santos International continues to hold my attention into 2010.  Can’t wait to see what they do next!

If you want more technical information on this project, visit our NEWLY UPDATED web site at

What if our world were free of geostatistics?

A world free of surreal geostatistics is long past due. Geostatistics was called a new science in the 1960s but turned out to be an insidious scientific fraud. Real statistics would have nipped the infamous Bre-X fraud in the bud but both CIM and IAMG ruled in favour of surreal geostatistics. Matheron’s so-called new science of geostatistics has already  made a mess of the study of climate change. That’s why our world ought to get rid of surreal geostatistics. And fast! Come frost bites or sun burns!
Thanks to all those who read my blogs. More than two million have done so. But I got fewer than ten comments. So, what’s the matter? Is it the way I write? All I do is put in plain words why geostatistics is a scientific fraud. Here’s what I have been writing for more than twenty years. Each weighted average has its own variance. Could I have put it any other way? It is a truism in real statistics. The Central Limit Theorem is bound to stand the test of time. Why then was the variance of the weighted average done away with in geostatistics? It was G Matheron in the early 1960s who called a weighted average a kriged estimate to honor D G Krige. Matheron never derived the variance of any kriged estimate. Neither did any of his devoted disciples.
What happened in the 1970s defies common sense and sound science. Was it Matheron himself or one of his disciples who thought that every one set of kriged estimates ought to have its own kriging variance? Stanford’s Journel was Matheron’s most astute student. He figured out that an infinite set of kriged estimates gives a zero kriging variance. Wow! Here’s what he taught Stanford’s neophytes in a nutshell. Assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets, interpolate by kriging, smooth a little but not a lot. Stanford’s finest geostatistical mind never took to testing for spatial dependence, or to counting degrees of freedom.
Some readers may want to study the odd opus on geostatistics. I suggest a paper on kriging small blocks. It was put together by genuine geostatisticians from the Centre de Géostatistique in France. Professor Dr Margaret Armstrong and Normand Champigny were the first scholars who cautioned against reckless over-smoothing by careless mine planners.

I have messed up my own copy of Armstrong and Champigny’s A Study on Kriging Small Blocks. The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum may never post this study on its website. Such a study would have passed David’s peer review at CIM Bulletin with flying colors. Elsevier in 1988 published Professor Dr Michel David’s 1988 Handbook of Applied Advanced Geostatistical Ore Reserve Estimation. It’s by far the worst textbook I’ve ever read. Yet, universities all over the world have this work of geostatistical fiction in their libraries.
It was early in October 1989 when Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves ended up on David’s desk. That’s when we found out that geostatistical peer review is a shamelessly self-serving sham. Too many geoscientists do not know that measured values give degrees of freedom, and that functionally dependent values (calculated values!) do have variances. If the difference between calculated and measured is a bit of a mystery, buy Moroney’s Facts from Figures, read Abuse of Statistics, or take Statistics 101.
So, who’s really to blame for the rise of Matheron’s new science of surreal geostatistics? What comes to mind first and most of all is the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum and its APCOM appendix. The International Association for Mathematical Geosciences and institutions of higher learning such as McGill, Stanford, UBC, and scores of others, were close seconds.
Thank goodness that I still have plenty of geostats and stats stuff to write about. Every night I fall sleep in my straight-thoughts jacket and figure out what to do next. Tonight it’s full moon in Vancouver. I feel really good about real statistics!

Matrix report worth its weight in gold

Same time thirteen years ago some of Bre-X`s test results for gold landed on my desk. I had not asked for Bre-X’s data. But I had agreed to and signed a three-year confidentiality agreement with Barrick Gold Corporation. I did so on December 16, 1996. It was the very same confidentiality agreement Barrick Gold Corporation and Bre-X Minerals had signed a few days earlier. The first set of Bre-X data were transmitted by facsimile on December 17, 1996. I didn’t know then that my life would never be the same. Bre-X’s infamous phantom gold resource is but part of a tangled tale with as many twists and turns as Matheron took to create his new science of geostatistics. It’s a tale that taught me a lot more about the mining industry than I cared to know.
I sorted out the Bre-X fraud faster than Bre-X’s salting squad took to cook it up. I thought Barrick liked what I did. At least Barrick did when I applied statistics to prove that Bre-X was a salting scam.Barrick liked it so much that I signed on July 4, 1997 a Consulting Services Agreement with Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. I submitted on August 18, 1997 my report on Statistical Quality and Grade Control . Geostatisticians on Barrick’s staff didn’t think much of it. I had applied Fisher’s F-test to verify spatial dependence between gold grades of ordered core sections from a single borehole by applying it to the variance of the set and the first variance term of the ordered set. I had done the same thing with Bre-X’s salted boreholes. Stanford’s Journel would have assumed spatial dependence. But then, Matheron’s most gifted disciple never signed a Consulting Services Agreement with Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc.When I was working with Bre-X’s test results my closest contact was a staff mining engineer at Barrick Gold Corporation in Toronto. We got along great because he knew plenty about sampling and assaying. And he knew why Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock added up to a geostatistically engineered gold resource. He also knew how to test for spatial dependence, and why geostatistics should not be applied in reserve and resource estimation. He asked me whether I wanted to take a look at a large set of borehole data for a real gold deposit. Guess what? So, I did agree to and signed on October 22, 1997 a confidentiality agreement with Barrick Gold Corporation. I submitted my report on Confidence Limits for Gold Contents and Grades on February 9, 1998. When I called my contact to find out what he thought of my report he said, “It’s worth its weight in gold.” I didn’t ask him to put it in writing. His word was good enough for me.

Worth its Weight in Gold

Geologists, mining engineers and mineral process engineers rarely agree on metal grades of in-situ ores, mined ores and mill feed. I lived through many such rituals. The top brass wants high mineral inventories in glossy annual reports and geostatistics always delivers. Barrick’s geologists found confidence limits for gold contents and grades of mineral inventories a bit much of a commitment. Shareholders do want a measure for risk.
Another year passed by, Christmas 1999 came along, and the Confidentiality Agreement between Barrick Gold Corporation and Bre-X Minerals expired. I liked to talk about the Bre-X fraud. So, Barrick engaged lawyers who wanted to come to Vancouver and tell me why I should not talk. I called on a friend and the visit to Vancouver was cancelled. All I have done since Christmas 1996 is show why geostatistics is a scientific fraud.
What Barrick asked me ten year later blew my mind. Barrick wanted more consulting services. I’m not about to describe the required services but it had nothing to do with confidence limits for gold contents and grades of in-situ ore. I agreed to and signed on March 20, 2007 a Consulting Services Agreement for services to be provided at Barrick Technology Centre, Vancouver, BC. My contact had a lot of practical experience but stood to gain from a touch of real statistics. Before we could get going he was needed at Barrick’s Bulyanhulu gold mine in northwest Tanzania. Long before Barrick acquired Placer-Dome and its Bulyanhulu deposit I knew that Placer-Dome had some dedicated geostatisticians on board.
A Munk Debates on scientific fraud makes no sense. Who would debate the case for scientific fraud? Yet, a scientific fraud does underpin the practice of reserve and resource estimation all over the world. Shamelessly self-serving peer review is all it took. But that’s another story. I have called it Behind Bre-X, The Whistleblower’s Story.

Who wants more Munk Debates?

Who wouldn’t! Debates beat apathy. The Munk Debates is cool. The more so since climate change was the theme for the Fourth Munk Debates. Climate change, just like continental drift, has been around for a few billion years. It took geologists from 1915 to 1950 to slow down to continental drift and call it plate tectonics. So, it’s about time to debate climate change. Why not call it weather dynamics? I work with metrology, the science of measurement. I took a crack at testing whether or not annual temperatures at several locations in Canada have changed significantly as a function of time. The average temperature of 6.57 centigrade in 2007 at Ottawa International Airport was significantly higher than the average temperature of 4.79 centigrade in 1939. Similarly, the average temperature of 8.30 centigrade in 2007 at Toronto International Airport was significantly higher than the average temperature of 6.04 centigrade in 1939. Average temperatures didn’t change at international airports in Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. Neither did the average temperature in Coral Harbour and Iqaluit change significantly during the test period under examination.

Some grasp of statistics is required to apply Fisher’s F-test and verify spatial dependence between annual temperatures in ordered sets. Weather dynamics do change from day to day, from week to week, and from month to month. Such short-term changes in temperatures do not merit a Munk Debates. What does merit a Munk Debates is the question whether or not geostatistics is a scientific fraud.
Here’s in a nutshell my take on the Fourth Munk Debates. Elizabeth May is Leader of the Green Party of Canada. She is a gifted and confident speaker. She knows a lot of environmental stuff. She doesn’t know much about temperatures recorded by Environment Canada. Given that the Leader of the Green Party does speak a lot in public, she should know where temperatures went up or down, since when, and by how much.
George Monbiot was her partner in the Fourth Munk Debates. He is a superb scribe with the Guardian newspaper where his penchant for hyperboles runs rampant. How to measure climate change as a function of space and time is far beyond his grasp. Monbiot says cool things such as, “Canada is a cultured, peaceful nation, which every so often allows a band of Neanderthals to trample over it.” He doesn’t know Sir Ronald A Fisher ‘s work is trampled over by a tribe of statistically dysfunctional geoscientists bred in France, Great Britain, and elsewhere on this planet. The May/Monbiot side debated The Case For Climate Change.
Lord Nigel Lawson and Bjorn Lomborg debated The Case Against Climate Change. Lord Lawson is in a class apart when it comes to a life of public service in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. His work has done much to cool down global warming to climate change. He is the author of An Appeal to Reason, A Cool Look at Global Warming. He is the Chairman of Oxford Investment Partners, and of Central Europe Trust. As such, he knows all about mining conglomerates and mineral inventories in annual reports. He is bound to remember the Bre-X fraud. He may be unaware that geostatistical software converted Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock into a huge phantom gold resource. Neither may Lord Lawson remember the cast of characters behind the Bre-X fraud.
Bjorn Lomborg’s claim to fame is based on The Skeptical Environmentalist and on Cool It. He is adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School. He also set up the Copenhagen Consensus Center to bring together those who set priorities for the world. I had brought to his attention in August 2008 that junk statistics underpins Matheron’s new science of geostatistics. I wanted to know whether he applies geostatistical data analysis. Environment Canada points to geostatistical data analysis in its handbook for inspectors. The skeptical environmentalist did not respond to my message.
The Merks and Merks team wants to debate The Case Against Geostatistics. Dr Frits P Agterberg, Emeritus Scientist with Natural Resources Canada, and Dr Roussos Dimitrakopoulos, Professor with McGill University, are highly qualified to debate The Case For Geostatistics. Both are serving in key positions with IAMG (International Association for Mathematical Geosciences). Once upon a time, IAMG stood for International Association for Mathematical Geology. Nowadays, our world needs more mathematical statistics.

2009 – A year of opportunity

Yes, you are reading this correctly.  There is no doubt that 2009 will go down in history as a year full of challenges and will always be thought of as the year of recession.  Personally, I could have lived without having to think about furloughs and workforce reductions.  But this year has also been fascinating to me because of the many businesses that I have come across, which managed to not only survival, but even thrived under the most difficult conditions.  They have figured out that superior core ethics and flexible strategic risk taking can bring you back into the middle of the business opportunities.

Of course there are certain business segments – construction and thus cement being a few of them – that are as volatile as they come and the phone just stopped ringing.  For some of us the company size and product range may be too inflexible.  There are all kinds of good reasons why your business has suffered and you had to react however you had to react to at least stay afloat. Regardless, I assert that there are two omni important things you can do to get back into a blazing saddle:

Get your own core ethics in shape and make sure that people know you for it; it is useless how many people you know.  Now is the time where you have to have a lot of people that will give you the first call for any business that they may be able to afford.  Core ethics and values are essential in keeping and maintaining a great dependable and knowledgeable workforce that can manage to be friendly to everyone – who wants to deal with miserable people when there is so little to smile about to begin with?  Know what your brand is and make sure your people know and live it too.  This nimble workforce and your brand image is going to help you putting revenue into your business, and you know that cash is still king.

The second success factor is that you need to take controlled risks.  You must know what is going on with your customers.  Now is not the time to skimp with your sales and definitely not your marketing budgets.  Make sure that your management team hits the road and sees your customers – period.  This does two things for your organization.  On one hand your top leadership gets to know how a customer really perceives you.  You get the opportunity to see and feel the discrepancy with your board room decisions and strategies.  The other side of the equation is that you get to know how you can help putting cash into the pocket of your customers by solving their issues or perhaps you get to create a need they did not even know that they had.

Either way, you and your leadership team are coming home with a punch list that is more or the less the roadmap to your continuing success.  Now you need to be just brave enough to act upon it and you will be off to a stellar 2010.

Ralf Weiser

Copyright:  Ralf Weiser 2009

Chatting with NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist

Dr Frits P Agterberg is Emeritus Scientist with Natural Resources Canada. He wrote a textbook on Geomathematics and scores of papers on a wide range of geological topics. He is the nimblest of geostatistical minds on this planet. His gift to assume spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets is second to none but Stanford’s Journel. I called him on November 4, 2009, at NRCan in Ottawa but he was away from his Office. I caught him at home when I called his residence at 09:10 AM PDST. I asked him to explain why his zero- dimensional  distance-weighted average point grade does not have a variance.


He hummed and huffed but didn’t speak to the matter of the missing variance. All I wanted to know is why the variance of his distance-weighted average point grade went missing. I pointed out the Central Limit Theorem would pop up if all of his measured points were equidistant to his selected point. NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist beats around the bush with the best. His textbook does refer to the Central Limit Theorem in Chapter 6 Probability and Statistics and Chapter 7 Frequency Distributions of Independent Random Variables but not in Chapter 10 Stationary Random Variables and Kriging. NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist has yet to give a clear and concise explanation why the Central Limit Theorem doesn’t apply to his distance-weighted average point grade.

I included Agterberg’s problems in my talk about Metrology in Mineral Exploration. I wanted to make a case at APCOM 2009 that distance-weighted average point grades do have variances. Nobody was ready for my show-and-tell but I got a gift. It was Clark’s Practical Geostatistics 2000. I found out that semi-variograms are still alive and below par. Here’s Clark’s problem. Her set of five (5) hypothetical uranium data doesn’t display a significant degree of spatial dependence. Thus, the concentration at the selected coordinates is not necessarily an unbiased estimate. Let’s find out what happens when coordinates are selected beyond her sample space.


Who expects the distance-weighted average point grade to converge on zero? And who expects it to converge on the arithmetic mean? It’s a good test to find who is geostatistically gifted and who is not. I would rather test for spatial dependence between measured values in ordered sets and chart sampling variograms that show where spatial dependence dissipates into randomness. Come hell, high water, global cooling, polar warming, or another Bre-X.

My first APCOM affair was just as cluttered with geostat drivel as are all of IAMG’s shindigs. McGill’s Professor Dr Roussos Dimitrakopoulos sought to shed light on stochastic mine planning optimization. He is Editor-in-Chief, Journal for Mathematical Geosciences. That’s why all his work passes his own litmus test for scientific integrity with flying colors. Somehow, it may have slipped his mind how geostatistical software converted Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock so smoothly into a massive phantom gold resource. But then, the geostatocracy has worked long and hard to ensure mining professionals never get a grasp of classical statistics.

It brings me back to my chat with NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist. I brought to his attention that a good test to verify McGill’s stochastic mine planning optimization would be to apply it to Bre-X’s data. Agterberg saw it differently because Bre-X’s data was “no real data”. No real data? But mining investors thought Bre-X was real! Didn’t Gemcom’s software convert Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock into a massive phantom gold resource? And wasn’t the battle to take over Bre-X Minerals a really bizarre affair?

This was my second chat with NRCan’s Emeritus Scientist after we had found out in 1989 that geostatistics is a scientific fraud. It brought back an odd dialogue in 1992 with Dr W D Sinclair, Editor, CIM Bulletin, and Dr F P Agterberg, Associate Editor. We talked about a technical brief on Abuse of Statistics. I’ll keep that tangled tale for some other place and time!

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