Friday, 15 November 2019
Areas of the Mine Where Partnership Matters Most
Austmine Limited
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Areas of the Mine Where Partnership Matters Most

Martin Vasilescu, Country Manager Explosives, Davey Bickford Enaex

The role of partnership in the mining industry has changed through time. Great collaborations have been responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs of the past, but the value of proprietary knowledge has led many mining and METS companies to keep collaborative efforts at arms’ length. Sharing operational details could erode competitive advantages. Relying on METS companies for proprietary knowledge could start a cycle of dependence. There have been sensible reasons to keep your cards hidden – and to the greatest extent possible, to develop necessary skills and technologies in-house.

But with each passing year, it becomes clearer that the future belongs to collaboration. As social and market pressures continue to mount, partnerships are driving efficiencies in key areas of the mine. Here are some of the brightest examples.

Haul roads and benches

The rudimentary features of mines are precisely where a lot of ground can be made up, but the right technology and partnerships are needed to make this happen. New forms of site modeling – particularly those wrought from automated drone systems, virtual reality and “digital twin” technology – can illuminate inefficiencies and safety risks in physical features like haul roads and benches.

Blasting

Blasting is arguably the most consequential moment in the mining process – so it makes sense that partnership is a major factor here. Leading-edge blasting hardware like the Daveytronic SP for open pit mining, or the Daveytronic UG for underground mining, can shape the effects of each blast for optimal downstream gains. That includes greater control of fragmentation, muck piles, dilution, and ground vibrations. Achieving more with fewer blasts saves time and money, whilst increasing safety – but the technology alone is not enough. Your digital blasting partners should want the same thing you do: Results that are customized, repeatable, and valuable at multiple phases of the operation.  

Heavy machinery

Most of modern mining has less to do with impressive spectacles and everything to do with minutiae. As a result, more companies in the METS sector are focused on data collection and analysis for real-time performance insights. Machine maintenance is another pain point where quality partners can net tangible gains for mines. Cranes, excavators, drills and other heavy machinery can be fitted with sensors that reduce downtime and eliminate overly-defensive repair strategies. This is a prime example of how increasingly sophisticated digital ecosystems are allowing mining companies to extract value that was previously hidden. However, success in these areas seems improbable with a “lone wolf” mentality. Even if mining houses have the resources to buy technology outright, its potential can go untapped without application from capable partners. K2fly’s Land Management system is a good example, as it works to reconcile performance goals with factors such as cultural heritage, environmental rules and stakeholder engagement.

HR and the environment

We’ve grouped these together because each represents a combination of “hard” and “soft” value. It isn’t only to make ourselves look presentable that we invest in better work cultures and lighter environmental footprints. It’s also because these things have real impact on performance. K2fly’s Land Management system is a good example because it works to reconcile performance goals with cultural heritage, environmental rules and stakeholder engagement. In the same way, innovative partnerships with METS, communities, universities and government bodies are helping to reshape the work cultures of our industry, in order to better accommodate a new generation of mining leaders.

Building success through measurable outcomes

In each area of the mine discussed here, partnership can be seen as an important step toward getting more with less. This is what the market demands, both socially and economically. But with so many potential partners out there, and many new METS entering the fold, it can be difficult to know which collaborations are worth the risk. Some METS deal in technologies that are entirely promising and relatively unproven. These have their place in the strategic discussions of mining companies – as do those METS who have long histories of innovation, measurable outcomes and ironclad commitment to their partners.

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