By Arend Hanekom
Operational Readiness Specialist at Minopex

In mining, operational readiness is critical to project and operational success. If a project is not operationally ready when construction is completed, the project could experience value destruction through delays, production losses, rework and missed opportunities due to team, process, or system failure.

If an Operational Readiness Programme is correctly managed, appropriately integrated, and properly implemented, it is more likely that efficiency, productivity, and an optimum level of throughput will be achieved – driving teams toward their desired state of operations.

Minopex’s Operational Readiness service offering empowers clients to bridge the gap between construction and operations for both mines and processing facilities. This is achieved with a holistic, structured approach, following six key steps:

1. The Identification of Gaps

Understanding the “starting point” – and, more importantly, the desired end state – is a critical success factor. Identifying gaps is a crucial first step in determining the current state of operations and identifying what’s preventing it from reaching its desired state; and then supporting customers with change management as they take the steps to move towards their desired state. With this approach, the necessary information is gathered to support successful, sustainable, and safe operations.

To achieve this, Minopex facilitates customers through a pre-defined survey set which evaluates and scrutinises all aspects of the mine or processing plant’s operations. This framework is built on more than two decades of experience in starting up facilities and benchmarked against best practices.

2. Integration

When it comes to integration, the industry’s common shortcoming is that project team objectives do not always align with operational team objectives. This misalignment results in the failure to identify opportunities, risks, and mitigating controls early on the in the project lifecycle. Integration of all teams and functional aspects is required as early on as possible to ensure that these teams do not work in silos, but rather work together to achieve unified goal.

Minopex approaches integration with a focus on people readiness, process readiness, and systems readiness. Operational Readiness goes further than constructing and commissioning a plant. With integration, project milestones are realised, and the team that needs to operate the plant/mine safely is ready to do so when the plant is commissioned.

3. Alignment

In every operation, regardless of the industry, alignment is a crucial element for success. In mines or processing plants, it is vital that different workstreams and functional owners are aligned with project intent and objectives.

A significant component of Minopex’s Operational Readiness service is helping operations teams to understand the objectives of the project, and project teams to understand the expectations of the operations team. The purpose is to align all parties internally, so that every person active in the project buys into and drives the overall project goals, within the required timelines.

4. Bridging of Gaps

To bridge the gaps, early on participation and input from the operations team is fundamental. Operational teams play a pivotal role in managing the risks identified in the gap analysis – from both a project perspective and an operations perspective.

With a focus on Operational Readiness, mitigating activities or controls must be put in place to ensure that those risks are proactively diminished. This will go a long way to reduce value loss early on during the ramp-up phases, as well as prevent delays, assisting the project to achieve its intended milestones and schedule.

5. Skills Transfer

Once the Operational Readiness project is aligned with the overall project, required equipment technologies, Operating and Maintenance Philosophies are identified. Informed by the project timeline, recruitment strategy, the facility “installed base” and technology deployed the operational teams can identify the resources, training, skills, and capabilities needed to ensure a capable and operationally ready operations team.

With a focus on skills transfer, Minopex assists in creating capable operations. Whether through formulation of a training program, on the job skills transfer, formal training interventions, development of training material people readiness at the time of handover is certain.

6. Acceleration

Following the five steps above, identifying the risks and opportunities early on, and putting appropriate resources and mitigating controls in place are proven to accelerate ramp-up to stable and safe operations. The compound effect of a holistic Operational Readiness approach ensures commissioning, ramp-up, steady state, and safe operations are achieved faster, and more easily.

For more information about Minopex’s Operational Readiness Services, please contact Arend Hanekom at