Developing Greater Synergy Among Geologists, Mineral Processors and Mining Engineers/Operators

CIM Vancouver 2002
Abstract An efficient and profitable mining system requires the integration of its various subsystems (processes) toward optimal efficiency and profitability. Frequently, costs overruns and defaults in project performance result in serious problems and headaches for all project participants and impact on corporate objectives, profits and image. As mining professionals, we should be very concerned that, in a recent World Bank paper, geological and technical problems were considered the most important ones facing mining projects . Whenever we reduce or minimize these problems, we are in better position to overcome the environment-, market-, finance- and community-related ones.
Among possible causes, two will be discussed here: poor communications due to walls between departments and a "success oriented approach" that does not adequately acknowledge inherent risks associated with shortcomings in information, planning, feasibility studies and project implementation. Candle stub savings at various steps during ore body delineation, ore testing and project design and planning and mine production may often be outweighted by the losses they cause.
Poor communications between geologists, mineral processors and mining engineers/operators can seriously affect project efficiency and profitability. As these key mining stakeholders are linked by complex and multiple supplier-client relationships, they must communicate efficiently regarding ore types characteristics and distribution in the deposit(s) and always operate as a well coordinated team.
At all project stages, the geologist must ensure that appropriate deposit mapping, mineralogy, delineation and sampling data are available for characterization, estimation, and production quality control. To achieve efficient process and plant design, and optimal mineral recovery and costs, the mineral processor must communicate his(her) information needs to the geologist, for him(her) to supply samples that represent all ore types present for deposit appraisal, and also to supply optimal mill feed. The mineral processor must always ensure systematic and representative sampling of all inputs and outputs appropiate for a real process balance, to minimize reliance on "recalculated grades and recoveries." The mining engineer's key role in mine planning and scheduling requires him/her to take into account ore type characteristics and locations as well as crushing, pulverizing and mineral processing constraints. A number of real-life problems caused by inadequate communications and/or risk analysis methods during project appraisal, mine development and mine production will discussed.
Keywords: Feasibility studies, Communications, Quality management, Risk management, Team Synergy, Information management
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