Worldwide mining operations have seen a 28% drop in productivity in the last 10 years, and that too after adjusting for diminishing ore grades. As a mine operating manager, the focus is on improving productivity and maintaining profitability without sacrificing mine safety.
The foundation of improving performance in mining is 'doing more with less' leading to higher shareholder returns. Here's a list of 5 strategies that could help mining firms enhance their productivity.
Consider Digital Transformation and Innovation
The digital transformation and innovation of the mining sector is an imperative lever to boost productivity, cost savings, and safety advancements. Emerging technologies help miners manage their entire mine life cycle from explorations to daily operations. These advanced software and tools allow for remote access, thus making the mining process fast, accurate, and cost-effective. Advanced technologies like 3D Printing and Mapping, Automated Drilling, Smart Sensors, Digital Twinning, and Simulation Modelling are reshaping the sector.
Strengthen Mine Planning and Scheduling
The foundation of good mine planning and associated technical practices is part and parcel of a high-performance mine. A veteran planner should be hired to plan out mining activities. The plan needs to focus on increasing cut-off grades, reduction in capital expenditures, and increasing the high standard production. By optimizing material movements with reduced total haul distances, mine planning NPV and improving management OS reinvigorate the company's mine plan. Some of the typical improvement approaches in mine scheduling are reducing the variability of run-of-mine feed, improving the fragmentation and mill throughput through optimized blast sizing, etc.
Better Management of Budget And Risk
Research suggests that about 65% of mega-projects in excess of AU$500 million fail to deliver targeted value. In order to improve the results, the companies could make the management of working capital more sturdy. Let the engineers, mine operators, procurement and construction management (EPCM) operators, and manufacturers know the KPIs. A better understanding of the actual expenditures, including the amount spent on every unit of production, is important for cost management.
Prioritize Mining Operations Excellence
Mining firms aim to achieve high productivity and low costs while working with integrity. To reduce the cost sustainably, miners need to re-examine their operating models and ensure they have the necessary reporting systems and develop a cost management work environment internally. Companies should identify close operational efficiency gaps by implementing lean/six sigma methodologies and financial management metrics like SVA.
Recent advances in data analytics, AI, and ML in the mining industry have enabled miners to access data, reports, and make decisions on the go. With the powerful analytical tools, miners could turn holistic-cost analysis, identify outliers and exceptions to avoid misjudgment. Analytics provide metrics to monitor asset performance, overall profitability, and operational costs. Critical insights gained through analytics can help miners minimize downtime, streamline mine plans, and optimize fleet resources.