Fail to plan, plan to fail

The value derived from good mine planning is often underestimated as many mines steer their attention and recognition to the more immediate and easily recognised successes made by the day-to-day operational “bush fire” fighting. Too often, the focus shifts to building and supporting an efficient operations team, at the expense of mine planning.
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Runge at work.

Staff Reporter

Published in March 2009 Australian Longwall Magazine

The importance of having a well-documented and procedural mine planning methodology which integrates a thorough technical with an economic understanding of the resource cannot be over emphasised. The aim of the mine planning process is to develop a robust mine design-and-production capability which can best cater for future uncertainty while providing the best opportunity to maximise cashflow into the business.

The planning process must be transparent and auditable, clearly summarising the process steps and assumptions made to arrive at a justifiable and defendable outcome. To provide maximum value to the business, the planning process must be repeatable and scaleable to enable easy replication throughout the different mines and projects within an organisation.

In the past, mine planning software tools have typically been designed around providing a toolkit of functionality and their success relied on intensive training and expertise to build and maintain models. Within most mining corporations there is a wide and varied opinion of what mine planning is and what it can deliver.

Runge has observed that mining companies have a growing need for a well-designed, systematic and procedural mine planning methodology – consistent between mines and projects. Their desire is for a system that can provide for monitoring and control of the process; the development of common, purpose-built tools designed in modular fashion to facilitate the generation and communication of mining strategies and resultant plans; the movement of personnel while ensuring the capture and retention of valuable intellectual property; and a simplification and acceleration of the training process.

A well-designed planning system requires the integration of technical and business streams operating across a range of timeframes or planning horizons. These discrete planning horizons commence with the strategic view and cycle through the life-of-mine planning phase, five-year and annual business plans and ultimately down to the operational weekly and daily planning processes.

The diminishing numbers of highly experienced personnel, coupled with the growing pressure to clearly demonstrate that appropriate due diligence has been exercised, means that well-documented and monitored mine planning processes using purpose-built and innovative tools need to be developed to ensure optimum outcomes.

Runge’s new-generation XPAC Vision software has been designed to meet these needs. It is solution-driven and designed to match a clearly documented and embedded planning process which ensures consistency. This means the process of planning between engineers – and between minesites – can now be well managed.

In essence, the effort and focus of the mining engineer can now be directed to the job of mine planning, rather than wasting time and effort on how best to use the tools.

By Mike Rowlands, Runge, manager – underground coal

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