Read the latest interview ‘Consulting with Consultants’ between CSA Global and Mining Magazine in the 2019 May edition.
Consultancy firms have become, by far, some of the most comprehensive service providers in mining. When trends change for mines, these companies adapt, and a large percentage of them have decades of experience in one or several specific areas of service work.
The relationship between the consultant and the operator is evolving, as it has historically parallel to the movements of the industry. MM sought to find out what’s important to mines today, what will be important in the future, and how these partnerships can get the most from their working associations.
Three (or more) keys to success
Gustavson mining vice president Don Hulse says that, when it comes to the working bond of the operator and the consultant, the latter can add value in three ways: by offering independent opinions or reports, providing supplemental talent for short-term projects, and offering independent operational audits to find potential efficiencies and savings.
“While the first is necessary and mandatory for some public companies, and the second provides a relief valve for lean staff, I believe that the third offers the most satisfaction for consultants and direct benefit to clients,” he says.
Many companies engage a consultant for the direct, measurable benefit of savings opportunities. Others retain them for their application of analytical techniques that may not be available to them in-house – especially when that consultant has specialists in a specific area or field.
Knowledge, risk insurance
Fundamentally, consultants and mines can work together to not only expand and extend capabilities, but also to improve or maintain processes and reduce risks, according to CSA Global principal mining geologist Ben Playford.
This can happen in a number of scenarios, including when the provision of that extra element of technical expertise that may not be present in the company’s team – such as with structural geology, geometallurgy or hydrogeology.
However, he says, the consultant-operator connection is useful when providing added capacity/capability on an as-needed basis to support basic mine operational functions. This is helpful in mine planning, grade control and reconciliation, Playford notes, and can be “switched on” as needed.
Additionally, it provides continuity of technical know-how after staff turnover, according to Playford, when technical staff expertise is in high demand. He also refers to it as a kind of operational and technical “knowledge insurance” or corporate memory for an operation.
PUBLISHED BY MINING MAGAZINE