The mine will pay for the wall.
Many years ago one of the executives of a major mining company requested us to do a high-level assessment to establish the reasons why the mine plan continuously fails at one of their mega open-pit mines. Following an extensive site tour with production management we end-up visiting the planning offices and after several hours going through the planning process, an engineer took me to the window. "You see that wall," he said, pointing out to the production offices across the road. "No wall, just a road", I replied. "That wall between us and them - that is the culprit" he answered.
"Walls" cause considerable damage.
Following our review and findings of the non-compliance to the mine plan, it soon dawned on us that the damage caused by the "wall" is so far-reaching that we had to recommend acceleration of a major pushback by contract mining methods to get back on track again.
And the real cause of the problem. By not timeously replacing old mining equipment, historical productions were still planned and scheduled but, in spite of a major effort by maintenance personnel, industry standard mechanical availability of equipment could no longer be sustained.
Factors giving cause to the disconnect.
Due to extensive involvement in open-pit mine operations since the early 90's, afforded me the opportunity to make observations on a vast number of open-pit mines across Africa. And the verdict; non-conformance or production-related problems on all the mines I visited can directly be contributed to the disconnect, which invariably gave cause to blame-shifting between planning and production, or mine and contracting personnel. (which ultimately develops into "walls") Summarised below some of the major contributing factors are:
Planning, scheduling and design related
Impractical pit, road and dump designs. Unrealistic production targets (utilisation, cycle times, availability. etc.) Mining block sequence and schedule not optimised. Equipment (fleet) allocation and selection not performed.
Operations and production-related
Mechanical availability unacceptable. Equipment underutilised. Non-conformance to plan, design and schedule. Incorrect and less optimised loader-truck matching. Lack of good mining practices and housekeeping.
Designed equipment performance and application capability.
Consequently, and given our company's extensive involvement in mine operations improvement, we packaged our own service solution that enables departments or mine and contracting companies to cooperate with another (breaking down the "walls") in achieving the desired results, viz;
Re-engineer and coordinate technical and operations management to improve and achieve optimal equipment performance including but not limited to:
● Re-design pits, roads and dumps for practicality that conform to designed equipment capabilities.
● Reconcile production schedules and plans to conform to designed equipment capabilities.
● Determine fleet and equipment requirements to match required (planned) productions.
Increase focus and coordinate technical and operations management to improve and optimise:
● Equipment utilisation, mechanical availability, optimal equipment matches.
● Mining practices and housekeeping.
● Contract agreement conformance.
Thus, back to the drawing board, a simple and basic approach from first principles that break down the walls and continue to deliver the desired results. For more information on our improvement solutions visit our website or do not hesitate to contact us.
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