By Minopex

Mineral processing operations are complex and require expert skills and knowledge to keep plants on track. Today, many customers are experiencing a drop in operational performance post commissioning or later during steady state operations. The decline is gradual and often attributed to issues beyond the operational team’s control – but this is rarely the case. With an expert eye continually analysing performance, even the smallest shifts in performance can be identified and rectified before becoming the norm.

“The slight drops in performance don’t often get detected by the on-site operations team which is where Minopex Operations advisory can assist.”

“Usually when there’s a step change in performance, the response by the operations team is an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach until the issues are resolved and performance improves,” said Paul Thomson, Operations Executive, Operations & Advisory at Minopex, a DRA Global Company.

Common pain points in process plant operations

According to Thomson, the most common challenges that clients are facing include:

  • Turnover of staff which leads to a loss of the operational knowledge
  • Poor operational performance that affects the net present value (NPV) of projects.
  • If a new plant is battling with throughput or recovery issues, the design engineering company is often blamed, the cause often relates to the plant not being operated to the design parameters by inexperienced operators.
  • Poor root cause analysis of the plant issues which means they are not being effectively addressed and rectified.
  • Reactive plant maintenance practices and a lack of skills leads to a drop in performance.

How Operational Advisory addresses challenges

Minopex’s Operational Advisory team is highly skilled in meeting client’s needs and effectively addressing their pain points. Minopex has established its Operational Advisory service after developing advanced operational readiness and plant analytic capabilities from commissioning and operating more than 46 processing facilities. The service includes operational readiness and operational audit and consulting. Based on many years of building expertise and on-site experience, the team has identified key learnings that drive successful advisory services on projects.

The lessons learnt include the premise that operational performance inevitably falls after the commissioning team has left site,” said Thomson.

Thomson added that poor performance is usually caused by:

  • poor operational readiness planning;
  • short supply of or poor-quality ore;
  • weak pre-operational staff training;
  • no operational experience; and
  • lack of accumulated plant technical knowledge.


With this knowledge, the Minopex Operational Advisory team prepares the organisation, effectively addressing their needs, wants and frustrations, by:

preparing plants for operations by developing detailed operational readiness plans

conducting a thorough plant audits by experienced professionals;

improving operational performance, using highly skilled operators and engineers to:

      • review the current plant performance;
      • benchmark the performance against industry standards;
      • validate the operational parameters versus the design parameters; and
      • advise on how to improve the performance given the current conditions;

concentrating on the installed equipment and, where required, contracting process engineers from DRA to model the performance using different configurations and providing recommendations accordingly;

concentrating on the installed equipment and, where required, contracting process engineers from DRA to model the performance using different configurations and providand deploying a proficient asset management team to drive predictive asset maintenance and assist in resolving maintenance related issues.

The future of Advisory Services in mining

The mining sector is facing a growing skills shortage, with fewer people entering the sector and an aversion to working in remote location continues to impact the attraction of talent to the industry. To overcome this, mines are fast becoming digital which is allowing performance to be monitored remotely, in real time, and analysed by offsite professionals.

“This digital shift will provide top industry experience even to the remotest of mines,” said Thomson

“The remote connectivity will further facilitate continuous optimisation of plant parameters using the latest in statistical process control.

“Other areas of improvement will lock into asset predictive maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime and improve plant stability.”