3 Signs of a Mining Partnership That Will Take Flight
This was originally published by Davey Bickford Enaex.
The Wright brothers changed the course of history with the invention of the aeroplane, but it didn’t happen by accident. It was the complementary nature of their respective skill-sets and personalities – the power of partnership, in other words – that drove their seemingly impossible project forward, and ultimately skyward.
Orville was the inventor, toiling away in private. Wilbur was instrumental in pushing the ideas out into the world. By all accounts, communication was vital their success. “Nearly everything that was done in our lives,” Wilbur once said, “has been the result of conversations, suggestions, and discussion between us.”
The strength of partnership is evident in many of history’s landmark innovations, but we don’t even need to look that far. We can see it every day in the mining industry, both here in Australia and globally.
We can also see that partnerships have varying levels of success. There are those that boost performance right away, those that take a little time to get off the ground, and those that drag on for years without ever producing much in the way of results. With that in mind, here are three signs of a partnership that will take flight.
1. A commitment to objective results
In commercial mining, the value chain is complex. It extends from highly technical aspects, such drill and blast engineering, right through to human resources and talent management. As technology and best practices evolve, new potential partners make shiny promises to deliver value at various points on the chain – but can they measure up?
A productive partnership generates value that is tangible, measurable, meaningful, and consistent. Digital blasting is a strong example because it unlocks measurable value immediately (e.g. better fragmentation, reduced downtime) and downstream (faster excavation and more efficient processing) with every successful blast event.
2. A movement toward autonomy
A lot of questions have been asked about outsourcing in the mining industry. In particular, what will the mining company of the future look like? Will it be little more than a collection of partnerships, in which a central command centre chooses among third-party operators to perform vital tasks?
It’s a better bet that firms will increasingly want to decrease their dependence on external agents and own the processes that deliver value. To this end, a productive partner doesn’t aim to create a closed loop of reliance. Instead, it actively transfers knowledge and experience through partnership – thus creating maximum value through greater autonomy.
3. A strong ethos
When it comes to ethos, it’s abundantly clear that forward-thinking mining and METS companies cannot afford to be passive. No industry is more vital to the human project in the 21st century – including the all-important area of decarbonisation – yet mining carries with it a historical stigma that must continuously be broken down.
A commitment to practices that are socially and environmentally responsible is vital to any productive partnership. The most obvious manifestations of this are visible in the immediate results of the partnership. In the case of digital blasting, this means fewer blast days, reduced vibrational disturbances, and a smaller operational footprint as a result of surgical and strategic blasts. How each partner operates internally (e.g. manufacturing processes) also matters to the overall ethos of the partnership.
Finding partnerships that take flight
If the Wright brothers had been poor communicators, or if each had a drastically different vision to the other, someone else would have swooped in and unlocked the secret of flight. But Orville and Wilbur had a great partnership. As a result, they realised the dream of powered flight at a time when many believed such a thing to be impossible.
In today’s mining industry, there is less and less room to believe that anything is technically impossible. New innovations are arriving every day, each with the potential to expose and reduce inefficiencies. Sorting through those innovations – and finding the ones that really work – always comes back to the enduring strength of partnership.