Underpinning the mining process is a continuum of prediction, specifically of tonnes, grade and recovery from exploration to grade control, through short-term mine design, to mining and processing. The interdependence of one activity on the other is so strong that it can be difficult to partition the activities and determine where there are issues, if any. Reconciliation is the process that compares the predictions of the various estimates to the actual product produced at the end of the production chain. Quite often, an attempt to understand the variances from one measuring point to the other creates a ‘wicked problem’.
This study outlines the benefits of incorporating the principles of ‘systems thinking’ into the mining reconciliation process, by constructing a framework within which reconciliation is effectively managed. The philosophical base for any variances between successive links in the reconciliation chain cannot be attributed purely to the statistical variance between the predicted and the actual grades achieved, but should include the interrelationships between the technical and managerial professionals involved. Systems thinking, as an interdisciplinary approach, draws its ideas and concepts from a variety of disciplines, and in so doing can exploit their different strengths.
The study described in this paper offers methodologies to analyse the task, in advance of developing a technical solution. Two systems thinking methodologies, Grounded Theory (GT) and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) were employed. These methodologies, are geared towards dealing with relationships and interactions between individual parts and the whole. The GT coding in the study specified that the key activity that would drive the reconciliation process is through an effective reconciliation meeting, and the competencies of a ‘reconciliation team member’ This team member should be a good communicator and enjoy challenges, be open-minded and transparent, and have a broad perspective of the mining process and relationships across the different activities.
Adofo, R, 2017. A systemic approach to managing the Mine to Mill reconciliation process, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 95–102 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).