Get operations off to a good start with sound mine planning

Therese Dunphy

December 15, 2014

mine planningWhether starting a new mine or working an existing one, mine planning is an essential ingredient to profitable aggregates production, said Dr. Scott Giltner of Dyno Nobel. “It’s hard to get from here to there if you are unclear about here and haven’t thought much about there.”

During a seminar on mine planning held at Quarry Academy 2014, Giltner said that mine planning should be done to improve operational results and should be practically applied. This means monitoring current production activity and using real, achievable numbers when setting middle-term and long-term plans. Mine planning should also represent a disciplined planning effort that reflects not only what works well with current mining, but also allows flexibility for future changes.

“Put in place informational metrics that allow management and operations to build and track a working model of their operations including volumes and costing,” he said. Use survey control to increase accuracy and precision of excavation; this is the foundation of blast/haul/operational efficiency he added. Other benefits of mine planning include reducing rework in the operation, lowering production interruptions, improving equipment utilization, providing a more consistent, producing more high-quality product, and allowing for better financial control over the operation.

For optimal mine planning, Giltner said operators should consider both fixed and variable factors of the operation. Variable factors such as bench height, production rates, equipment, property lines, and location of site structures can be controlled with the operator, while market conditions and the surrounding environment are not. The challenge is to manage those factors that can be managed while creating contingency plans for those that are not.

“If you haven’t really done mine planning before and are trying to create that culture, start with short-term mine planning so people see the benefits and then work ahead,” he said.

Characteristics of a good plan, Giltner said, include the following:

  • They are based on reliable market forecasts.
  • They are flexible to adjust to changing market conditions.
  • They consider current pit configuration and equipment
  •  They outline the sequence of activities necessary to achieve the plan. This means they are based on realistic expectations and timelines and consider dependencies between various activities. They also clarify what needs to happen at each stage.
  • They are structured to maximize revenue through the efficient use of labor and equipment.
  • They identify the risks in acheiving the plan.
  • They are communicated to stakeholders in a way that is neither confusing or contradictory.

Short-, middle-, and long-term plans and objectives need to be relevant and manageable for daily operations, he said. “Develop a culture and set of tools to achieve situational awareness and continuous improvement.”


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