Reducing metal prices have forced mining operations to become more efficient and innovate in order to do more with the existing base. Much of this effort has focused on improving the efficiency of load and haul operations. The key to this is to understand and quantify where delays and missed opportunities exist. Metrics such as utilisation of availability, efficiency utilisation and asset availability are helpful indicators of performance; however, uptime-based time usage models and performance analysis tools using productive operating time models help to identify additional improvement opportunities.
Phu Kham is a copper-gold mine operated in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) since 2008 by PanAust Limited. The mine is a single large open pit of 450 m depth, running a fleet of 51 100 t class rigid dump trucks and 300 t and 200 t shovels controlled with the aid of a fleet management system in order to achieve ex-pit material movements of 56 Mt/a.
Commencing in late 2014, a range of initiatives were implemented in order to improve the efficiency of the mine haulage fleet. These include hot seating of all operator changeouts via changeout ramps, split shifting of crews to minimise queuing delays, maximising blast volumes and minimising blast event days to reduce blast exclusion delay events including opportune refuelling of equipment during blasting events, inspections of trucks during refuelling events, implementation of a dedicated haul road services team to help reduce wet weather related delays and infrastructure development for haul path efficiency improvements.
These and other initiatives have allowed the mine haulage fleet utilisation of availability (UofA) to be sustainably increased from 85 per cent to 97 per cent (see Figure 1), efficiency utilisation to increase from 85 per cent to 90 per cent, and productive operating time (POT) to increase from 73 per cent to 84 per cent. The corresponding increases in efficiency of the haulage fleet has allowed an equivalent reduction of eight haul trucks from the fleet to meet continuing life-of-mine production requirements.
Monro, K R and Young, S P, 2016. Truck haulage improvements at the Phu Kham mine – the journey to 97 per cent utilisation of availability, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 339-346 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).