IMPORTANCE OF EARLY PARTICIPATION OF OPERATIONAL READINESS IN MINING DESIGN PROJECTS

By Minopex

In mining, Operational Readiness is increasingly being recognised as a key differentiating success factor that ensures mining and mineral processing projects deliver against stakeholder expectations and all the value committed to in the project business case. It is an integrated, well-structured process that equips the operations team responsible to operate and maintain a newly developed facility with the required skills, the necessary tools and delivers all documentation at the right time.

Many mining and mineral processing projects fail to deliver the expected value (McNulty, 2004)1 and are unable to generate profits as expected. “Literature and experience support the notion that this is mainly due to delays in achieving planned production rates because of a lack of Operational Readiness when the project is handed over to the operations team,” confirms Deogratias Muma Bukunkwe, Operational Readiness Principal Process Engineer at Minopex Advisory, Minopex, a DRA Global Company.

Minopex continues to offer Operational Readiness services from early phases of project development as part of its Advisory business. Bukunkwe believes that this enables clients to bridge the gap between construction and operations for both mines and processing facilities.

A Structured Approach to Operational Readiness

Minopex follows a holistic six-step structured approach depicted in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1: Six-step Approach of Operational Readiness

M0644 Operational Readiness blog-Diagram1

Minopex’s Operational Readiness offering was developed from more than two decades of experience in starting up, stabilising, and optimising processing plant facilities. “This enabled the company to develop an operational readiness framework benchmarked against best practices,” he adds.

Importance of Early Engagement

According to Bukunkwe, the importance of commencing Operational Readiness from day one of the project development cannot be overstated. “Commencing Operational Readiness from day one means integrating details of Operational Readiness into the project scope and undertaking the Operational Readiness steps throughout the different project phases.”

Minopex understands the value of starting Operational Readiness from day one in a mining project, specifically the importance of budgeting for required resources and to mitigate unforeseen risks on the project. As such, the Operational Readiness offering aims to protect value of the project and to ensure the project delivers the commitments expected in the project’s business case. “An effective Operational Readiness roll-out will achieve this objective by de-risking the ramp-up phase and ensuring any risks during project start-up are mitigated,” states Bukunkwe.

As depicted in Figure 2 below, Minopex focuses on people, process, and system readiness to ensure Operational Readiness:

Figure 2: Operational Readiness Focus Areas

M0644 Operational Readiness blog-Diagram2

By focusing on people-, process-, and system readiness, as well as starting Operational Readiness early in the project, Minopex effectively delivers a service that yields:

    • A capable organisation that is ready to optimally operate the ore or mineral processing plant to ensure the projects meet planned goals
    • A sustainable operation that will operate efficiently and effectively at the planned rates
    • Reduced risk of project cost overrun and project value destruction – with an optimised Operational Readiness plan, all readiness actions are identified early in the project, the actions are scoped and planned for execution
    • All risks and potential problems or project flaws are identified in advance allowing mitigating actions to be taken
    • Increased probability of meeting the planned start-up and ramp-up rates as scheduled

“In closing, it is never too early to involve Minopex’s Operational Readiness Team in a mining project as inputs in the early stages of the project very often determines its trajectory,” concludes Bukunkwe.

References:

 1McNulty, T.P. 2004. Minimization of Delays in Plant Startups. Improving and Optimizing Operations: Things That Actually Work – Proceedings of the Plant Operators’ Forum 2004 Dowling, E.C. and Marsden, J.J. (eds). Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc., Littleton, CO. pp.113-120

2Arend, H. 2021. Six Steps to Operational Readiness in Mining

For more information about Operational Readiness, please contact Deogratias Muma Bukunkwe at deogratias.bukunkwe@minopex.com