Operational and Engineering Strategies in the Mining Industry

Mining industry involves shifting of considerable volume of material from one location to another in the process of metal extraction. This dynamic process of moving earth material can have many directions and strategies and may become complex during the life of mine. Executing or directing a mining plan to the operations in fast and aggressive fashion can create different opinions and contradictions. Strategic planning can provide direction, guidance, and focus when the industry is faced with options or choices (Canning et al. 2005).

As the current metal prices are industry high the mining industry as a whole is looking to capitalize either through expanding projects, merges and acquisitions. This high expenditures and mergers involve substantial resources, strategy and evaluation.

Due to the current demand in metal consumption the mining industries are looking into processing lower grade deposits at higher tonnage. Major advancements in increasing the mill throughput studies are becoming a prime focus in the operational improvements area. Sustainability and operational effectiveness of the mining operations are some of the key performance indicators (KPI) in achieving the production targets.

Mine-to-Mill studies have taken a particular interest in the mining industry with emphasis on communication and integration of the approaches taken by the mine and mill.

The mine operations team is constantly looking for continuous improvements and opportunities at daily mine operations. Several scenarios are evaluated before executing any specific project and they are accompanied by a formal Project execution work sheet.

Mine engineering group is responsible to deliver an achievable and realistic plan to the mine operations to obtain budgeted metal plan. The details involved in the planning require data obtained from other departments (geology, process etc) and the analysis of the data involve resources, strategy and timely action.

The fundamental goal of any strategy is to eliminate unnecessary complexity and generate value to the business. Some of the aspects to be considered when executing a strategic plan are financial aspects like rate of return or potential of return, impact on the process and its alignment to the standards of the company. The strategy needs to demonstrate an environment to encourage and participation. Inadequate or lack of integration among operations, engineering and process can create barriers to the operational improvement in most industries (Accenture, 2011).

Continuous improvement (CI) methodology in a process or operation can help to have capable and appropriate structure to guide employee efforts, track value, monitor progress, and identify areas of collaboration (Toth and Elliotte, 2011).

The Strategies implemented at the mines is contribute to understand the big picture than having a tunnel vision. The three things to focus can be quantity, quality, and time. Managing inputs for a purpose can produce outcomes, which contributes to goal. Consistency in the think, plan and act are possible by asking questions like what are we trying to accomplish and why? How are we going to measure the results? What other conditions must exist? How do we get there? (Terry Schmidt, 2009).

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