Project: Open Cut Metals Mine – From Optimised Pit Shell to Practical Mining Sequence

Current commodity prices and ever-increasing competition between mining operations dictate cost effective, achievable and well-presented mining sequence. 

Company Profile

The company operates an open cut Iron Ore mine and required a detailed mining sequence which would incorporate current short term plans and extend the mine plan to an optimized pit shell.   Ore body has complex structure and mining sequence had to follow prescribed operational priorities.   Mining production is planned to ramp up significantly over the next 12 months and detailed and realistic mine plans became crucial for reliable production forecasts and shipping schedules. 

Key Issues

  • Alignment of production demands and practicality of mining sequence
  • Difficult operating conditions
  • Ore and waste haulage strategy
  • Optimized pit shell and local conditions
  • Infrastructure and impact on reserve

Our Solution

MEC took the following approach to help achieve the objectives:

  • Familiarization with ore body
  • Review of factors impacting on available mineable reserves
  • Adjustment of the optimized pit shell, reduction in SR and preservation of infrastructure
  • Determination of long term mining sequence – design of semi-permanent haulroad
  • Development of medium term mining sequence, consistent with the long term plans

Benefits to The Client

The definition of mining sequence enabled the operation to mine more efficient and with clear understanding of priorities.  Understanding of mining sequence and location of main features of the pit will prevent costly errors and delays in production.

The Importance of Effective Communication Skills In Your Business

It takes communication to work in a team, and even people working alone have to report to their bosses. If you run a business, you have to tell employees what’s expected of them. Bad communication leads to errors, failure and sometimes lawsuits. Effective communication helps prevent these errors. Here are five reasons why effective communication is important in every business.

1. Creates an opportunity to develop relationships

Through positive encounters, relationships are built and maintained through effective communication. This is important for business, particularly towards employees, potential clients, and other stakeholders.

2. Develops an effective team

When open communication is encouraged, an effective team will emerge. Through collaboration, teams will begin to feel more comfortable in sharing ideas. This will not only boost morale, but also create an innovating team.

3. Fundamental for employee management

Effective communication from managers will result in clear staff understanding of their role and responsibilities. This can result in constructive feedback and healthier relationships.

4. Results in growth of the organisation

Potential clients understanding your business concept will mean growth of the company through the purchase of the good or service on offer.

5. Achieves transparency

When regularly communicating both internally and externally, organisations remain more transparent. This is important in building trust in your brand, in your services and also internally when it comes to the trust that employees have in higher management.

Keeping the team together: strategies to re-engage staff

Never has the modern world been more volatile than at the current time. Anxiety and uncertainty have rocked industries and businesses, in fact, all communities. But now is probably the perfect time to prepare for a return to a more stable working platform and consider ways to get your team re-engaged and ready for a new phase of productivity.

Senior managers are well aware that most workforces are characterised by a variety of employee ’types’. Those who are 100% committed to their job and feel a sense of loyalty to their company (a recent Gallup poll suggests about 34%). These staff will use their initiative and have a shared sense of pride in their own and colleagues’ achievements.

The bulk of employees who are compliant but unengaged. This group do their job satisfactorily but have no strong allegiance to their company and no desire to do more than their job description demands.

Then there is the last group, the discontented, whose apathy and /or negativity are not only frustrating but can be destructive and lead to seeping toxicity amongst the ranks.

Amongst all these groups there is talent and potential – after all, they were initially appointed for their skills and capability. It’s just that somewhere along the way, something has dulled their enthusiasm for the job. Identifying that ‘something’ is the first step to addressing the issue but often the individuals themselves are unable to pinpoint what it might be.

Perhaps surprisingly, money is not always the prime motivator for job satisfaction. Research implies that positive workplace morale tops that list – worth keeping in mind as you strategise ways to engage staff. Remember too, that the solidity of a hierarchical business structure relies on a solid base to avoid a precarious imbalance at the top. That base is made up of the majority of your staff.

So, what strategies are available to revitalise your workforce’s interest and keep the team pulling in the same direction?

Aim to engender mutual honesty and transparency in all communication

Building an environment where employees have avenues to offer feedback eliminates the opportunity for grievances to simmer – but only if the feedback is acknowledged and acted upon. Make yourself available; be seen. Expect some negativity but don’t be surprised when you receive innovative ideas that make their way to the boardroom.

Ensure that everyone is in the right role and that the role remains challenging

Employees can stagnate when a task becomes routine but setting realistic new goals, or offering a new position whets the appetite. Offer training to develop skills – but don’t impose it. Aim to be transparent about your expectations and hold people to account. Employees respect clear, unfluctuating boundaries.

Check-in often and recognise good work and the effect it has on the business

Praise success– but honestly and specific. Employees are quick to spot a manager who offers platitudes.

Team building for productivity

Enforced team building is passé and guaranteed to elicit groans. However, the unifying effect of great team-building exercises can be invaluable in motivating a group. Inviting your employees to identify areas of need, then tailoring activities in response can be both beneficial and fulfilling, creating a sense of ownership.

Practise humility

Remember that your position, though it comes with responsibility and authority, does not necessarily mean you have all the answers. Learn to listen and trust your team.

The MEC Mining team pride themselves on adopting this strategy to encourage highly engaged team members who enjoy the challenging and diverse projects the business is awarded.

Assistance in making key decisions

When a mining company needed help evaluating the mining strategy for the next 10 years MEC assisted in developing three separate options for owner operation. The client now has a detailed understanding of the engineering, costs and risks.

The Challenge 

The company currently operates a contract mining site and wanted to investigate the costs and feasibility of an owner operation. 

The key issues where: 

  • Equipment selection 
  • Site manning 
  • Maintenance strategy 
  • Product tonnes   

How we helped? 

MEC took the following approach to help achieve the objectives: 

  • Understanding of the contract operation 
  • Detailed understanding of the mine planning options and ability to model in the latest software 
  • Detailed costing of three scenarios in the latest software  
  • Analysis of risk  

Value delivered 

The cost model was expanded to three comprehensive Life of Mine model to allow the client to make the key decisions required to ensure a prosperous future. 

What I Have Learnt From The Last 1,000 Interviews

Owning and leading a business for over 14 years has taught me a thing or two about interviews and has certainly sharpened my intuition for picking the best candidates. During the 14 years we have hired over 150 people, interviewed around 1,000 people face to face and screened at least 5,000 candidates. So what has been so special about the 3% of people that have applied to us that we actually employed?

They were all awesome. In some way, and not always the same way, each of these people during their interviews were inspiring and you couldn’t help admiring them for their passion, aptitude, intelligence or ability to make an emotional connection. From my experience, this happens in the first couple of minutes of the interview, that spark is instantly recognisable and makes you want to hire the person on the spot.

So what do you do to show that spark? Here are things I look for in people:

  • Be passionate – you can always tell when someone truly believes what they are talking about. The conversation is effortless, engaging and exciting. Don’t even think about trying to fake this one, you can pick a phoney out in 2 seconds here.
  • Engage and connect – some companies target the right skills and experience, great companies target so much more. Your ability to engage and connect with the company, its way of doing business, and the culture within has to shine through in the interview. It is not enough just to tick the technical skills boxes to land a job in a great company.
  • Own the role – Know that you are the right person for the role because you have taken the time to understand the company and what the role entails. Be prepared to communicate where you can add value in the role for the company and why this sets you apart from others. Also do the same with what the company has to offer you, a great job is a deal that has to be beneficial to both parties.
  • Know your own brand – Do you know what you truly stand for? What is your uniqueness or awesomeness that helps define you and helps people recognise you in the industry?

Remember your awesomeness and ultimately your hireability comes down to your ability to communicate this so don’t be afraid to practice your pitch. If the interviewer has to go searching for this in the interview then your first 2 minutes is probably over and your chances of landing that dream job may have passed you by.

Please share your experiences in the comments, keen to hear what others think.

Feel free to send me an invite to connect at Simon Cohn.

How to Navigate Organisational Change

In today’s more volatile, complex and unpredictable business environment, it is more important than ever that we are equipped with the knowledge and tools to be able to adapt and transform business operations to become more effective and profitable.

If organisations are to remain competitive in their field, they need to assess their leadership mindsets and behaviours, ensure open communication, engage with employees about change, encourage feedback and to ultimately tap into the collective contributions of people around them to find something magical.

But, how do you navigate organisational change?

Building the change culture

Culture is the single most important enabler for change management strategies when leveraged properly.

Organisations need to be able to anticipate change, have a culture already established that embraces the change and be well-prepared and have the discipline to follow-through.

Emotional literacy is a key part of an organisation.  Creating an environment where people can speak openly about issues in the knowledge that they will be recognised and rewarded for ideas increases velocity and performance.

It’s all about trust

The foundation of any high-performance team is trust.

People want to know what is happening and why, and how it will affect them.

Transparency within your team about changes that will impact them will create an open environment where people feel safe being able to speak up, speak their truth and unearth issues that are preventing the team from moving forward together.

Constantly communicate what you are intending to do, even if it’s not favourably (you don’t need to share everything).

Build a heightened level of trust in your team by providing them with regular updates on changes taking place.

Remember, a culture based on trust is essentially ready for anything!!

It’s all in the mind(set)

Leadership mindset can dictate the success or failure of an organisation.  If leaders don’t have the mindset to support the principles of change, this will impact the organisations ability to deal with any kind of transformation which could make or break any planned changes.

There is a misconception that leaders driving significant change must be bold in nature, give inspirational speeches and take wild leaps at greatness. That is simply not true.  Global changes mean that there is no longer a place for lack of humility.  Organisations need to consider their own people first and drive performance with an emphatic approach.

Communicating change

Change is really about psychology, there will be groups of people within an organisation who will embrace the changes willingly, whilst others may need encouragement and reassurance. Leaders need to be mindful and educated about the people on this spectrum and how to communicate with them.

This can be heavily supported by the organisations structure, build things into the organisation that support the values that you are trying to use to drive change, far too often, executives underestimate the importance of communications.

The backbone of any organisational change communication reduces uncertainty and guides a business through the transition. It must be clear, concise, and consistent from the start to the end of the process. 

A great way to communicate to large numbers is to create a collaborative multi-disciplinary space with where employees can share their ideas about proposed changes from their individual perspective. Such involvement creates commitment and a sense of working together towards a common goal.

Encourage feedback, good and bad.  Learn from mistakes, make the plan better. Find out what works and what does not. The communication phase is also the perfect opportunity to reinforce the roles assigned to ensure you have team members who are accountable, responsible, and informed on all parts of the mission plan.

Top Five Open Cut Mines from Around the World

Open-cut mining is used when the minerals are found over a large area and relatively close to the surface. It is a surface mining technique that extracts rock or minerals from the earth by their removal from an open pit or borrow.

Unlike the deepest underground mines, which are mostly concentrated in South Africa, the deepest open pit mines are scattered across the world in some of the most amazing places on the planet.

Here are the five largest open cut mines from around the world:

Mirny, Russia

The Mirny Mine, based in the Sakha Republic, Russia is the second largest man-made pit in the world.

It is so big that it has a no-fly zone around it due to the downdraft it creates!

The mine was built in 1957 and closed in 2011.  However, when the mine was operational it was notorious for the extreme conditions where temperatures dropped in winter enough to cause rubber and steel to shatter.

It produced 10 million carats of diamond per annum $$$

Escondida, Chile

Escondida copper mine ranks as the third deepest open-pit operation and is currently the world’s largest copper producing mine.  The pit is 3.9km long, 2.7km wide and 645m deep.

Located in the Atacama Desert, Chile the operation consists of two open-pit mines, namely Escondida pit and Escondida Norte pit.

BHP Billiton is the operator of the mine with 57.5% interest. Rio Tinto holds 30% stake in the mine.

It produced 1.1Mt of copper in the financial year ending June 2013, which accounts for about five percent of global copper production. Escondida’s recoverable copper reserve was estimated to be more than 32.6Mt as of December 2012.

Creighton Mine, Canada

Creighton mine is the ninth deepest mine in the world and the world’s deepest nickel mine with a mining depth extending to up 2.42km.

The first production from the open-pit was made in 1901 with underground operations commencing in 1906.

Owned and operated by Vale, current mining methods used include shrinkage mining and mechanised undercut-and-fill mining.

The mine produced 608,000t of ore grading 2.77% copper and 2.55% nickel in 2018.

Exploration drilling carried out at Creighton in 2007 confirmed mineralisation at depth. The Creighton Deep exploration project doubled the proven and probable reserve to 32Mt grading 1.9% to 2.2% nickel and 2% to 2.3% copper.

Fimiston Gold Mine, Australia

Fimiston Gold Mine is Australia’s largest open-pit mine, measuring 3.5km in length, 1.5km in width and 360m in depth.

Also known as the “Super Pit” and “Golden Mine”, it is located 600 kilometres east of Perth on the south-east edge of the Kalgoorlie-boulder

Owned by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, a joint venture between Newmont Mining Corporation and Barrick Gold Corporation, the mine produces 850,000oz annually and has an estimated 8.84 million ounces of proven and probable reserves.

Chuquicamata, Chile

The Chuquicamata (‘Chuqui’) mine is the second deepest open pit mine in the world, at a depth in excess of 850 metres and the largest open-pit copper mine in the world.

Located in the north of Chile, the mine has been operation since 1910, and is now owned by Codelco, a state-owned operation since the Chilean nationalisation of copper mining.

It produces around 11% of the world’s copper supply, which equates to 350,000 tonnes per annum.

MEC Mining provides a diverse range of consultancy services to clients throughout Australia and Internationally.  MEC Mining has a team of skilled and experienced mine planners and technical consultants undertaking work on mining studies across various commodities and mining methods.

The benefits of expat mining work: 4 reasons to take the plunge

Choosing a job where you’ll be working overseas is a major decision for most people. There are plenty of opportunities for expat work in the mining industry, so should you board that plane if you’re offered offshore work?

We’ve listed the top four benefits of expat work to help you decide.

An international education

Anyone who’s undertaken work as an expat will tell you that you can’t put a price on how much you learn. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself in an exotic and appealing location but regardless of where you are, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • develop foreign language skills
  • step out of your comfort zone
  • work with people from other cultures
  • open your mind to new ways of doing things.

The future is global

The world is getting smaller, and different time zones and cultures are no longer barriers to business. The worldly insights that expat work provides is valuable currency in the job market and, increasingly, executive-level jobs demand global thinking and direct experience with other cultures. Whether you fancy yourself as a CEO down the track or you just want to position yourself for the best roles on offer in future, overseas experience is a highly regarded attribute on your CV.

Kudos to you

No doubt about it: working overseas can be challenging, confronting and stressful at times. It’s not always easy to be far from home, in unfamiliar territory and subject to different working conditions. But if you can cope with the pressure and deliver, you’ll prove to your employer – and yourself! – that you’re brave, smart and capable.

Doors will open

As we’ve already mentioned, companies value international experience when they’re hiring, so expat work gives you an edge in the job stakes when you go searching for your next role. Besides this, the new skills and perspectives you glean overseas are likely to open your mind to broader possibilities in work and life. You may find that, after flying across the world and stepping into the unknown, the sky’s the limit.

Engineers Anonymous – Part 1

Hi, my name is Simon and I am a recovering engineer. It has been 8 years since my last design and I am proud to say I haven’t fallen off the wagon, yet. Having graduated from engineering 22 years ago I spent a good portion of my career in the ‘doing’ roles of operational engineering and absolutely loved it. 

I look back on those engineering ‘doing’ roles with strong and fond memories of what I have learnt over the years technically, and how different parts of my career helped in developing the non-technical skills to eventually kick my addictive engineering habit. 

I often get asked about career pathways and what avenues are possible. So, I thought I would share a bit of my story from when I graduated to becoming a managing director and beyond, as the first question most people ask me is: Why did I choose engineering and in particular mining engineering? 

Great question and one I struggle to exactly put my finger on, other than to say, I was a bit of a geek, loved building things, enjoyed being outside, really really loved blowing things up and of course loved the big yellow trucks. 

In high-school I visited a mine that probably sealed the deal for me to become a mining engineer. 

I was fortunate enough to get vacation experience at Ranger Uranium Mine while I was in uni. There I worked with an awesome team of people who really cemented my love for mining. They also introduced me to what a high performing culture can do, with a small team exceling in a challenging environment. It was safe to say after this experience I was certainly hooked. 

I finished my degree ready to hit the mining world full of enthusiasm, energy and keen to learn all about mining. BAAM! Right into a brick wall of a major mining downturn. So, I did what most people did back then and wrote countless letters to mining companies and went door knocking in search of a job. After a couple of months of sheer persistence, 106 letters and several interviews I was fortunate enough to get 2 job offers. 

Landed my first job and joined an underground mining contractor who did one of the best things I could have hoped for in the early part of my career; sent me underground as an operator and on crew for 18 months. In a few months I learnt more about mining than I ever did in the 4 years of uni. I worked in close knit teams where trust was critical and often, what kept you from serious harm or worse; gained invaluable hands on experience about mining operations and people management; and developed a vocabulary that would have made Rodney Rude blush. Maybe, that last one wasn’t so great, but the collective experience formed an amazing foundation for my subsequent career. 

From there I jumped on the engineering wagon, which I will explain more about in my next post. 

Don’t forget to leave your comments and questions as I want to make this an interactive series of posts so feel free to fire away and I will aim to include my answers in subsequent posts. 

Feel free to send me an invite to connect at Simon Cohn