Why the Right People are Key to Mining Strategy
The history of commercial mining is one of innovation, creativity and necessity. It’s a history of tough lessons and breakthrough moments. We can point to a few of the most exciting and meaningful inventions that changed the industry — such as the invention of dynamite by Alfred Nobel in 1866, or the modern safety fuse by William Bickford in 1831. We can even take it back to prehistoric ages, when crude tools were used to take raw materials from the earth. The stream of innovation has continued ever since.
In recent decades, mining innovations have gone decidedly high-tech. The DaveyTronic® electronic blast initiation system is a prime example. When the first iteration came to market in 1998, operators discovered levels of blast control and efficiency they had never seen or imagined. Today, electronic detonation solutions continue to push boundaries in areas that matter most: precision, productivity, and safety. It’s easy to believe that by 2030, we’ll see many commercial mining operations that are both highly efficient and supremely ethical. Gone are the days when yield and yield alone was the only thing that mattered. Today’s operator has obligations not only to shareholders, but to employees and communities and even total cost of ownership (TCO). Tomorrow’s operator will have greater obligations still.
In order to meet these obligations, operators will have to realise that no matter what technological strides are made, success is not entirely based in technology. It doesn’t matter how technologically advanced mining operations become — they’ll always need something more to succeed — and that something is, of course, people.
From the moment of blast initiation to the various downstream stages such as load and haul, crushing and transport, it’s people who really determine the quality of the workflow. Safety is also a critical factor determined by people. A mine that utilises the best technology — but does not establish strong bonds of trust between people at all stage of the operation — will probably receive less benefit than a mine with subpar technology but stronger relationships between people.
Why are people so important?
Because commercial mining is a sprawling and complex operation. Geological mapping, scientific analysis, drilling and blasting, crusher circuits, transport, smelting, reclamation — these are only a few of the projects involved. It’s no exaggeration to say that if any one aspect of the operation falls short of their goals, other operators must react and adapt to pick up the slack. Every operator is solving a detailed set of equations that must fit seamlessly into the larger equation of the whole. When this happens, the operation in its entirety enjoys greater successes.
The integral strength of people and relationships
Phil Jackson, the man who coached Michael Jordan to six NBA championships, is well known for his collaborative philosophy. “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” By inspiring his players to work together, communicate, and above all to trust each other, he inspired success on a level that had never been seen on the basketball court.
If Phil’s ideas are true for a people playing a simple game, imagine how true they are for a mining operation in which careers, successes and lives hang in the balance!
There’s no question that technological advances have made our jobs easier, safer, and in some cases more productive. But we can’t succeed on technology alone, and we never will. Only with the integral strength of people and trusted relationships can the true potential of technological innovation — whether today or in the future — be realised in commercial mining. Developing this strength may require time and planning up front, but the payoff never fails.
This article originally appeared on www.daveybickford.com