1. Is a User's Manual included with SHERPA programs?
Yes -- a comprehensive User's manual fully explaining the program operation and all utility functions is included with each copy. In addition, "HELP" screens and a "TUTORIAL" sequence ensure that the program can be easily learned and put to use. Most cost engineering assumptions and algorithms are also fully detailed.
2. Are the costs associated with satisfying mandated ecological and environmental controls estimated by the
In both the Surface and Underground programs, environmental compliance requirements that can be satisfied through changes in the design of the mine are easily incorporated into the evaluation -- e.g., placement of tailings or waste in worked-out stopes, containment and pumping of mine effluent, and stockpiling and replacement of topsoil. Since these programs are not used to estimate the costs of mineral processing, items such as wastewater treatment, air quality control, and the mitigation of local environmental concerns are generally not considered.

Of course in our
Reclamation program, most of the costs associated with returning a mine site to a condition that meets regional agency requirements are the central design feature of the program.
3. Are annual updates to the cost databases available for SHERPA programs?
Yes, annual updates are available to registered program owners for a nominal fee. The database values are from cost figures contained in InfoMine USA, Inc.'s Mining Cost Service.
4. Are SHERPA programs available in other than the English language?
At this time, our programs have not been translated into other languages.
5. What additional programs do you have currently in the development stage or projected for the future?
We have recently released a program that estimates post-production reclamation costs for bonding purposes. We are also developing a program that will enable you to estimate the capital and operating costs associated with constructing and operating mineral processing plants. These programs operate in Windows 95, 98, ME, or XP environments.
6. Why did you choose the name "SHERPA" for you programs?
Since the early days of climbing in the Himalayan mountains, incredibly skilled and durable Tibetan mountain people known as Sherpas  have provided support and guidance to climbers by performing the more tedious, repetitive work of ferrying heavy loads of supplies and equipment to even the most advanced climbing camps, thus freeing the climbers to force the route upward. Without these high-altitude porters, these Sherpas, climbing Mount Everest, K-2, and the other 7000-plus-meter peaks would have been much more difficult, if not impossible. While the parallel between climbing Mount Everest and preparing a mining cost estimate might seem a stretch, our SHERPA programs do provide the support and guidance that free project evaluators, geologists, and engineers to perform the critical design work necessary to produce accurate and comprehensive cost estimates.
7. Can you explain what is meant by an "engineering-based' approach to cost estimating?
In an engineering-based approach, almost every parameter required to estimate the costs of an operation is calculated from other user-provided parameters. For instance, truck cycle times are calculated using the haul profile supplied by the user. Daily truck use is then calculated using this cycle time in conjunction with the truck capacity. And then driver requirements are calculated using the daily truck use value in conjunction with the efficiency of the driver.

This is opposed to a factored approach in which the first step in program development is the statistical derivation of average cost algorithms. Next, a series of factors are formulated to account for such items as haul gradients and road conditions. When performing an evaluation, the program first estimates a cost using one of the statistically derived algorithms, then queries the user input to assign the appropriate factors and arrive at a representative cost.

In the past, we've used both systems and feel the engineering approach is a cleaner, more reliable way to estimate the costs.

8. What are the prices for these programs?

Sherpa for Surface Mines.............  $3,200.00
Sherpa for Underground Mines...... $3,200.00
Sherpa for Placer Mines................ $3,000.00
Sherpa for Reclamation Bonds....... $3,000.00
Apex for Economic Evaluation........ $2,100.00

9. Who are you guys?
Aventurine is a family business dedicated to saving mining companies time and money by helping them focus on deposits that are economically ripe.


Our Chief Engineer, Scott Stebbins, worked for the U.S. Bureau of Mines from 1980 to 1990 helping  design and construct the Bureau's Cost-Estimating System (CES).  Scott went on to develop IC 9170, the Bureau's cost-estimating system for small-scale placer mines.

In 1990, Scott left the Bureau to accept a position with Western Mine

  Engineering, Inc.  Under the direction of Otto Schumacher, the

  President of Western Mine, Scott developed
Sherpa for Surface Mines.  Both of these professional engineers felt that through the use of the computer, a reliable cost-estimating software tool that utilizes engineering-based calculations could be designed and that this tool would produce better results over a wider range of project conditions than the factor-based approach used at the Bureau of Mines.  Although Sherpa for Surface Mines is now produced by Aventurine Engineering Inc., credit for its development lies primarily with Western Mine Engineering, Inc., which continues to provide the cost database values for all the Sherpa programs.

Scott formed Aventurine Mine Cost Engineering in 1995, which later became Aventurine Engineering, Inc., in 2000. The company's first release was Sherpa for Underground Mines, a cost-estimating program for underground operations similar to Sherpa for Surface Mines.

Our technical writer, Marki Hocking Stebbins earned her master of fine arts in creative writing with a secondary emphasis in technical writing. As part of her coursework, she was required to take a series of critical workshops. Often directed by well-known authors, these represented great opportunities for growth but were very difficult at times. As she points out, even helpful criticism is still criticism. Marki understands that editing someone's work can be a painful process.

  After completing school, she went on to work as a teacher and editor, working

  at a private business college for court reporters in Seattle and later for the

  Community Colleges of Spokane.


Marki has a clear understanding of her audience and is able to produce documents that are understandable to both technical and non-technical clients. Her training and experience coupled with a great sense of humor give Marki a tremendous ability to work with people.


Our Web Mistress is Holly Hocking, whose skills far exceed her years. She brings fundamental abilities, like organization and a willingness to work hard, along with an ambitious imagination.