The mining industry continues to have major disasters (Bingham Canyon, Pike River, Upper Big Branch, Mount Polley and Samarco), which often have a devastating effect on the enterprise, in terms of personnel deaths and injuries, environmental destruction, and financial and reputational loss. These disasters are not imposed from outside the business or organisation, they are almost always a function of loss of control of the management of the organisation’s critical assets and processes that they contain or to which they are exposed.
Asset integrity is discussed as an effective response to business risks in order to mitigate, control and recover from loss scenarios that could expose a mining operation to significant property damage and business interruption, or even total loss. Vital to this process is the identification and control of risks to critical assets. Components of a critical asset assurance program are presented for discussion.
Formal risk assessment has a longer history in industries other than mining, eg petrochemical, nuclear, military, aviation and space industries. Risk assessment is a structured, proactive approach to understanding and improving risks, as opposed to a reactive ‘fix-it-when-it-breaks’ mentality. Risk assessment techniques were triggered by major public disasters, such as the Flixborough chemical plant disaster (1973), Three Mile Island nuclear plant event (1979) and others.
Today, most industries see risk assessment as an inherent part of their business, but do mining sites capture business risks that are related to major loss scenarios, which could have a significant impact on the operation?
Does your risk assessment process:
– involve a team having the right skill set so that the discussion is both stimulated and technically sound?
– use generic assessment when a site-specific assessment is needed?
– fail to consider all possible outcomes, including maximum foreseeable loss (MFL)?
– fail to identify all hazards and controls associated with a particular activity?
– fail to monitor controls effectively?
This paper addresses the issues identified by these questions and provides some direction for developing a risk management process where business risk associated with critical asset integrity is integrated with other business and safety and health risk processes to provide a robust method for managing your business. Case studies and common findings from critical asset failures are used to support the need to include critical asset assessments as part of business risk management processes.
Wallace, J, McCamley, M and Cannings, R, 2016. How robust are your asset integrity management processes? In Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 53-64 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).