How to get the best from a mining consultant

Enlisting a mining consultant for a project can yield excellent results. Here are our tips for finding the right consultant and ensuring they accomplish what you need them to.

Prior to hire: tips for planning

1. Establish what you really want

It’s common to hire a mining consultant because you need to solve a complex problem, but even so, you need to be able to isolate your end goal so that you can communicate it to prospective consultants and work out who has the most relevant experience. Ask if they’ve completed similar projects before and request examples of previous work.

2. Define the scope

Use these questions to get started defining your project’s scope before you approach any consultants:

  • What’s the project focus?
  • How long will it take?
  • What’s my budget?
  • What can be done internally?
  • What will I have to deliver to my boss and in what format?

Nailing this will reduce surprises and variations that could cost you time and hamper your success. If you’re uncertain, you can always work further with the consultant to clarify the project’s scope.

3. Be prepared for changes

In your planning, allow 5-10% of the project value for variations. You don’t have to tell the consultant this, but budgeting for it will help you accommodate changes.

Remember that if the scope is changed by the client a variation request is fair; if it’s changed because your consultant has made a mistake then you should hold them to the original proposal.

When you hire: tips for choosing

1. Look beyond the brand

While choosing a consultant from a reputable consultancy is a good option, at the end of the day you’re hiring an individual and they need to be a good match for your business. While a consultancy firm provides frameworks to guide its consultants, your project will ultimately be in the hands of someone who’ll have to think on their feet and make sound judgment calls as they work.

The key is to cover all the bases: a well-regarded consulting brand, a great consultant and a smooth process.

2. Get multiple quotes

Make sure you get detailed quotes from all your prospective consultants rather than assuming that headline consulting rates are comprehensive. Mining consultants usually quote based on time and materials but additional fees for admin, project management, printing, variations and software can add up, so total costs may be very different. Comparing detailed quotes will help you make your decision.

Down to business: tips for working

1. Be realistic about deadlines

Work out with your consultant what is feasible – and plan for contingencies – before you present a project plan to management. You should also guard against rushing a project by engaging more team members to get the work done faster. It takes time to familiarise new people with the work, and more people can make project management more complex.

2. Work well together

Misunderstandings early in the piece can lead to headaches later on so prioritise good communication from the outset. You should:

  • maintain clear, open lines of communication with your consultant
  • schedule regular meetings to chart progress
  • introduce the consultant to your existing employees at the beginning of the project, so that everyone is clear on what’s happening, and collaboration can be efficient and productive.

3. Learn from each other

Your consultant is likely to have broad experience and perspectives that could be relevant to your project. Engaging a mining consultant is an opportunity to learn from each other, so ask for their advice and you may gain some valuable extra insights.