In a truck shovel operation, all we ever talk about is the excavator. We schedule the excavator, measure it’s productivity, compare various models and make judgements about which ones perform best. But In fact, the excavator doesn’t put any material in the dump or stockpile, its the trucks that do all the work and incur most of the cost of moving the material. So we should really be looking at which is the best truck to use. Assuming that the truck and excavator size are appropriately matched (between 3 and 5 bucket passes to fill a truck), the performance of the excavator only comes into the equation during loading which is perhaps 2 minutes out of a total truck cycle time of 20 minutes. So if the excavator hits some hard dig and takes 3 minutes to load a truck, the excavator productivity will fall by 50% but the truck productivity will only fall by 5% which hardly affects the unit cost of the operation.
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.
One of my favourite sayings is that engineers are like diamonds, formed under pressure and worth a lot. Unfortunately, lately we now seem to be worth a little less money than we are perhaps used to. None the less, the pressure and workload in mining stands above many other industries.
If you are being objective, you can’t really explain the price of gold by looking at its uses. Sure it looks good in jewellery but most of the gold doesn’t end up in jewellery, it sits in locked vaults gathering dust. There is now enough stored gold above ground to keep the jewellery market supplied for hundreds of years without needing to mine any more. So logically the price should crash and nobody should bother mining it any more. In fact people predict this all the time but it never happens.
At MEC we pride ourselves on understanding all aspects of the mining system, allowing for the recognition of opportunities within clients’ mine-planning strategies.Our highly experienced mining team is adept at providing strategies for improvement and we firmly believe in giving our clients the best return on their investment. We also truly value our client relationships and work closely with them to ensure the highest-quality solutions are tailored to their needs.
Up to 60 resources sector senior industry leaders converged at the MEC Mining and Siecap jointly hosted Industry Breakfast Forum at the Brisbane Club on Friday, May 13.
And despite the superstitions surrounding the day’s date – it was far from all doom and gloom forecast for the industry as the mining downturn bottoms out.