In the current cycle of low commodity prices and rising costs, mine managers continue to focus on optimising mine performance and productivity. A critical component of strengthening performance and productivity is ensuring material is routed correctly and efficiently through the core mine production activities of drilling, blasting and grade control.
By the time a blast is planned, an enormous amount of intellectual property has been invested in the exploration, resource development, feasibility studies and mine planning activities. The value of that knowledge is either realised or diminished during mine production. Efficient execution of the process is critical and is reflected by the quality and timeliness of the information produced.
Multiple teams are involved in the mining extraction process. These teams are all under time pressure to keep the mine equipment operating. One of the root causes of this pressure is the dependency between the teams. They do not operate in isolation, but are a link in a chain depending on the outcomes of each activity. It is essential communication is efficient so tasks can be completed according to the production schedule. Unfortunately, communication fails when unintegrated systems are used because of:
– different teams seeing different data, hence there is not an overall, up-to-date view of progress and priorities
– lack of cross-functional visibility of data leading to failure to identify errors in time to address or correct issues
– teams tending to be siloed and focusing on their part of the process rather than the overall objective.
With different systems used for the parts of a common goal, supervisors and managers lack visibility of the process. This makes it difficult to identify process improvement opportunities.
Streamlined communications help consolidate all data and activities resulting in improved cooperation between mine production teams. This outcome increases the confidence and efficiency of material routing decisions. It also reduces potential impact to mine performance from errors in early stage tasks like drilling and grade control. Having everyone collaborating off the same trusted data, helps teams identify with common goals and find business improvement opportunities as they appear.
Arboleda, F, Mundell, S and Jeffrey, S, 2016. Driving mine performance through communication, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 117-124 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).