In the United States the parent company offers a wide range of services such as management consulting, privatisation/restructuring, exploration and reserve evaluation, mining operational analysis, supply agreements, and feasibility studies. About 70% of BOYD’s work is for the coal industry, but other sectors serviced include industrial minerals, metals, finance, legal, and government.
For over 30 years BOYD has serviced Australia from the US, sending out American-based specialists, and it is these existing relationships Wilkinson hopes to build on.
Wilkinson, who owns and has run South African-based Mining Consultancy Services (MCS) for the past 14 years, was selected by BOYD to serve as managing director of the Australian office. Wilkinson has 24 years of experience in coal and longwall mining, both internationally and in Australia. He has extensive experience in mining system optimisation and productivity improvement. In addition, he has worked in diamonds, base metals, and gold. Some of his work included development of mechanised and automated extraction for South African metal mines.
One advantage is that BOYD will have local services available which will be supported by international specialists. Having a presence when jobs become available is important. Wilkinson said that within two years the Australian BOYD office planned to be self-supporting, with international support when assignments require such specialised services. BOYD’s primary objective is to satisfy the clients needs by providing appropriate levels of expertise to meet specific project requirements.
“Internally derived software tools will allows the Australian office to present standardised formats for evaluation of problems,” he said. These include production performance electronic monitoring and simulation systems developed by MCS.
Wilkinson said BOYD plans to concentrate initially on productivity optimisation. One of his most recent longwall projects was helping with the system design and equipment selection at the Matla shortwall in South Africa (See related story).
“Mining a 5.5 m thick seam with extremely hard cutting conditions means you are really pushing back the design envelope of everything – roof supports, shearer and AFC. Understanding the technical challenges of mining at that height is vitally important. In this instance the role of the consultant is to make sure the supplier and end-user both understand the other.”
Wilkinson believes that consultants should be facilitators. One methodology he used very successfully in South Africa for this type of project was to workshop solutions at mine level in an interactive manor with those on site.
Areas into which Wilkinson had input at Matla were setting up the systems to manage the productivity and economics of the face. While geotechnical issues are extensively researched in Australia, Wilkinson believes focusing on system optimisation and equipment issues is where operators will make incremental improvements.
The plan is to focus on projects where BOYD can continue its reputation for genuinely adding value Wilkinson said.
“BOYD’s strength is tying the whole project together as a full service entity, looking at the big picture and providing the client with an honest and logical appraisal of the situation.”