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Developing the Ridgeway Deeps Project with an Operations Attitude


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Author C Jones and G Dunstan


Ridgeway Deeps is a block cave (BC) located down dip of the operating Ridgeway sublevel cave (SLC) mine. The BC is located approximately 210 m vertically below the lowest SLC level and approximately 1100 m below surface. Due to the mine layout containing a number of common pieces of key infrastructure the activities of both were interlinked.

When investigating project construction options for the BC, a number of potential risks were identified including a conflict of priorities between operational and project deliverables and the varying safety and work methods between an owner mining approach in the SLC and a potential contractor workforce in the BC. This led to a review of the construction philosophy and the opportunity to utilise the existing SLC workforce as the basis of all activities in the mine. It was identified that a number of synergies existed with the current SLC operators and mine supervision including common work practices and the opportunity to build on the unique SLC skills of the operators and supervisors which could then be used at other Newcrest caving mines.

With the commitment to this philosophy of building on the existing SLC crews and supervision the number of employees reporting through the superintendent underground operations grew from 95 to 245. This increase led to a restructuring of the reporting and work requirements of the superintendent, foremen and shift bosses. In order for the foreman and shift bosses to focus on running the larger crew numbers for the full 12 hour shift the mine superintendent became a pseudo human resources manager taking over all non-mine focused activities including overtime allocation and work and behavioural performance management. In simple terms, ensuring there were competent bums on seats when and where required.

As the additional workers were recruited to top up the existing employee numbers, their employment history was used to place them in the most suitable roles. For example, those with building industry experience were placed on the civil construction crews and those with a farming background were used as truck drivers, nippers or on the service crews. To cope with the increased number of new starters a number of key personnel were seconded from the crews into the training group to act as on shift trainers. This initially caused a reduction in mine performance as the main operators were reassigned but it proved a valid move as the time for new operators to reach acceptable levels was significantly reduced with safe operating standards being maintained.

This paper discusses
how the Ridgeway Deeps Project was delivered on time and under budget whilst at
the same time retaining its position globally as an operation to be benchmarked

Jones, C and
Dunstan, G, 2011. Developing
the Ridgeway Deeps project with an operations attitude, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

103-106 (The Australasian
Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: