What is the biggest factor that you could control at an open cut coal mine to generate return? For me it would be loss and dilution. Small improvements deliver big increases in cash generation, usually at minimal or no additional cost. Commonly, most of the coal losses occur at top of coal as blast energy breaks up the coal and makes it difficult to separate cleanly from the waste. Big gains can be made by improving blasting practices to avoid fracturing the coal.
Extractive industries are, by the very nature, a set of defined and repeatable processes to meet the business objectives. Typically, within each process are Drivers eg. Labour Rosters, Geological and Geotechnical factors which impact negatively on business costs. Then there are the Levers eg. Physical factors, Process Cycle and Operating time and affecting rates and hence Productivity.
Decision making is often a complex series of processes which may result in a “less than optimal” business outcome. Whilst there are tools to support and rationalise the process such as Multi Criteria Decision Analysis, the real value can be realised and optimised using a Trade Off Study approach. The outcome is logical and auditable to inform the best decision for the business.
Most of us in mining will agree that we have too many meetings, using up too much of our time, but it’s really hard to do much about it. I would spend around half of my time in a meeting including some days that are wall to wall meetings. I often reflect that if had an extra hour each day to get the real work done, then that would make a material difference to my effectiveness. Now, I think that a lot of our time in meetings is wasted and we often subconsciously find ways to fill the meeting agenda to use the whole time slot.
Drill and Blast is one of the leading causes of coal loss in an open cut coal mining operation. There are so many aspects that must be considered as part of the Drill and Blast Engineers design process and it is easy for an inexperienced or time constrained engineer to overlook critical areas. A poorly designed and managed blast can lead to millions of dollars of lost revenue.