Performance Improvement at Bulyanhulu

CIM Montreal 2003
David Scott, Luiz Correia,
Abstract Barrick’s Bulyanhulu Mine in Tanzania began commercial production in April 2001. The feasibility study which incorporated the initial mine plan and process design was based on a proven and probable reserve containing some 3.6 million ounces of gold at a projected mineable grade of 16.4 grams per tonne. By early 2002, as a result of an extensive drilling program, this reserve had increased to approximately 12 million ounces at a mineable grade 14.7 grams per tonne.

The increase in the reserve base prompted the development of plans to increase the mine’s production capacity from a nominal 2500 tonnes per day to at least 3250 tonnes per day. Initially, these plans called for significant expenditures to be made to expand the capacity of the processing plant and to add additional production equipment to the underground mobile equipment fleet. However, a systematic continuous improvement (CI) initiative, implemented in 2002 as part of a company wide introduction of an improved system of operations management, known throughout the company as BOS (Barrick Operating System), demonstrated that there is sufficient underutilized capacity, within the present facilities, to permit the expansion of production capacity with minimal capital expenditure and improved operating margins.

This paper provides an overview of the continuous improvement component of the Barrick Operating System from the establishment of appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs), through the quantification of improvement opportunities by means of technical limits analysis, to the identification of the root causes of failure to achieve technical limits and culminating in the derivation and implementation of the most effective actions to enable closure of the performance gap. The paper chronicles Bulyanhulu’s experience with particular CI initiatives in the areas of process plant throughput, long hole stoping performance, and grade control and identifies areas for future study.

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