‘Every mine is a pilot’ is an attitude which encourages the mining paradox of optimistic mine plans and equipment under performance; propped up by an environment lacking accountability. The premise that ‘every mine is a pilot’, appears to underlie the development and operating approach to most mines. It is the hypothesis of this paper that many mining companies, development teams and their managers largely ignore what is done elsewhere. Anecdotally, most planners don’t know whether the selected rates are high or low (rates based on theoretical models tend to be high – certainly higher than what most companies can achieve). Mines then consistently operate the equipment at rates well below targets; often more than 20 per cent below. Further to this paradox, mine performance data demonstrates the average mine is currently operating their equipment at levels of output not much more than half the output of those in the top ten per cent. On the whole mines don’t know the potential of their equipment and therefore don’t put appropriate plans in place to do better. After all, when ‘every mine is a pilot’ there is little reason to look to one’s peers for an indication of potential. This paper will outline why every mine is not a pilot and how mines do value some knowledge, but not as much as they should. This paper proposes a two-pronged approach to address this issue in the area of equipment performance. This approach is to:
1. engage in better forecasting of equipment rates and better subsequent performance through benchmarking against industry standards
2. provide conditions for more accountability.
These parameters are linked and proper implementation of them will address the losses which many shareholders and financiers have incurred when investing in companies with unrealistic mining plans.
Lumley, G I, 2016. Is every mine a pilot? In Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 75-88 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).