The Five Big Losses in Mining

Shariq Ansari
January 10, 2023
5 mins to read
Five major types of losses faced by mining companies

Mining is a vital industry that plays a crucial role in the global economy. However, it is also an industry that is prone to losses, which can have significant impacts on businesses and the communities they operate in. There are a variety of different processes that can result in losses to mining businesses, and it is important to understand these processes in order to minimize the risks and maximize the profitability of mining operations.

Project Planning and Management Losses

One of the most common causes of losses in the mining industry is poor project planning and management. This can include a lack of thorough market research, inadequate risk assessment, and faulty resource planning. For example, if a mining company does not properly assess the demand for the minerals it is extracting, it may end up with excess inventory that it is unable to sell. Similarly, if a company does not properly assess the risks associated with a project, it may be unprepared for unexpected challenges that arise during its course.

Mostly, companies that rely on traditional systems end up facing these issues, as they lack the data that's required for the proper functioning of processes. In 2023, due to digitization, companies can correctly predict the supply-and-demand and the hazards involved in every process, in real-time. To overcome poor project management, miners must adopt integrated data collection and management platforms, that instantly do all the hard work for you. Like Grid, where you can set up comprehensive risk assessment checklists and inventory management solutions within a day or two!

Project management losses at mine sites

Environmental issues

Today, mining is emerging to provide the solution to our environmental crisis, with its unmatchable contribution to green energy. But at the same time, it has also not been unable to completely break free from the clutches of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) compliances. Mining companies continue to get caught having a detrimental effect on the environment due to improper implementation of ESG rules and regulations. Authorities have continuously been introducing progressively stricter laws to prevent deforestation, the release of pollutants into the air and water, and the generation of toxic waste. Thus, businesses must always be super-vigilant in maintaining the compliances on their mine sites.

If miners do not properly manage their environmental impact, they end up facing significant losses in the form of fines, lawsuits, and reputational damage. In addition, if a mining company fails to either obtain the necessary environmental permits or follow environmental regulations, it can face legal consequences that can result in critical downtime.

Environmental issues caused by irresponsible mining

Health and Safety Issues

Mining is the basis of every technological advancement, but it can also be quite detrimental to workers and machinery if not carried out in accordance with the regulations. With regulations getting progressively stricter, mining companies are always at risk of incurring heavy fines. Hence, businesses must take proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of their employees and contractors.

If a mining company fails to adequately protect the safety of its workers, it can face significant losses in the form of lost productivity, legal action, and reputational damage. In addition to this, negligent businesses may also be more prone to accidents and injuries, which can result in significant financial losses. Thus, it is of paramount importance for managers to always stay on top of compliances and overall site safety. This is extremely difficult if they continue to rely upon stacks of paper or folders filled with Excel sheets. Mining managers need to take advantage of the technology available and have all the compliances and risks managed smoothly by self-reporting applications.

Guidelines for health and safety of miners

Ore processing losses

Ore processing losses refer to the losses incurred during the extraction and beneficiation of ore. These losses can occur at various stages of the mining process, including crushing, grinding, and beneficiation.

One of the significant causes of ore processing losses is the presence of impurities in the ore. These impurities can significantly reduce the overall quality of the ore and reduce its value. For example, if the ore contains high levels of sulfur, it can result in increased energy costs during the smelting process and reduced metal recovery rates.

Another cause of ore processing losses is the inefficient use of equipment. If the equipment is not properly maintained or is not operating at optimal capacity, it can lead to reduced efficiency and increased losses. For instance, if the grinding mills are not operating at their maximum capacity, it can result in a higher rate of overgrinding, leading to lower metal recovery rates.

Irregularities in ore beneficiation

Theft and Fraud Losses

Theft refers to the misappropriation of company assets during multiple stages of the mining process, especially transportation and storage. While frauds in the sector include fraudulent billing practices, embezzlement, and misrepresentation of company financials. According to research conducted by ACFE in 2022, mining is the industry most at risk for fraud and has seen the highest increase in cases - 30% over the last 4 years. This has resulted in a median loss of more than $450,000. These are significant numbers and can have a devastating impact on profitability.

The research additionally claims that the two major concealment methods used by fraudsters are: Creation of fraudulent physical documents and the Alteration of existing physical documents. Hence, to prevent theft and fraud losses in the future, the implementation of traditional internal controls and audits is simply ineffective. To avoid malpractices from taking place, mining companies will have to migrate to operations management platforms that ensure 100% visibility and control. With Grid, managers and business owners can implement end-to-end digital asset management systems, as well as invoice management and auditing within days. This would facilitate tracking of every asset's location and data in real-time, and every transaction that takes place in the organization.  

Employee thefts and frauds in mining companies

In conclusion, there are a variety of different processes that can result in losses to mining businesses. These include poor project planning and management, environmental issues, health and safety issues, poor ore processing, and theft and fraudulent activity. In order to minimize the risks and maximize the profitability of mining operations, it is important for mining companies to have effective strategies in place to address these issues. This can include thorough market research, comprehensive risk assessment, effective resource planning, sound environmental management practices, robust health and safety policies and procedures, and a proactive approach to navigating political and regulatory risks.

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Shariq Ansari
Digital Marketeer
“Using Grid to track drill program progress and day to day expenditures has allowed VR Resources to make better decisions more quickly. The highly customizable and elegant interface allows me to track and manage all aspects of our field work and it’s clear after just a few weeks that the possibilities are nearly endless. Cost tracking estimates were consistently within expected variance of invoices received giving me further confidence in managing agile drill programs. Further the development team and customer support have been top notch!”
Justin J. Daley
PGeo, MSc, Vice President Exploration
VR Resources
VR Resources
“Grid has been extremely helpful in changing the course of multiple operations, here at U-Solar. We started with one module for Materials Management, and have now adopted Grid for 3-4 more processes, all of which have been smooth and quick to implement.”
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