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:: Raising Workforce Skills Using Operational Mineralogy
Dr Will Goodall of MinAssist says that “increasingly mining companies are recognizing the need to take on new technology developments in order to increase the efficiency and productivity of their operations and stay ahead of their competitors. Having highly skilled staff is important in making the implementation of new technology a success; however, finding such staff is an increasingly difficult task.”
Mining operations employ a vast variety of people with many different skill sets and “upskilling these existing staff is the best way to fill any new positions created,” he says. “Providing training and further education for existing staff can have many other benefits in the longer term including increasing staff morale, longer staff retention, and higher productivity.
“One example of new technology is the development of site suitable, ruggedised automated mineral systems, such as the Zeiss MinSCAN, that has made it possible to undertake routine mineralogical analysis at the mine site. This allows for routine, daily, mineralogical analysis to be performed, providing ongoing mineralogical trending information to process engineers and managers to assist in day to day decision making and longer term continuous improvement.”
Operational mineralogy allows an operation to shift its focus of mineralogical information from a reactive process optimisation tool to being a decision support tool. The major impediment to the widespread uptake of this new technology, as well as the data it creates, is the requirement for expert mineralogists to be present at the operation to run the program and analyse the data. This is a major roadblock as there are insufficient skilled mineralogists and engineers to allow even a fraction of sites to run an operational mineralogy program. Development of any program therefore needs to focus on both training of site personnel to operate the equipment and remote support for data analysis, allowing the operation to generate full value from the mineralogical data collected.
“To provide a practical solution to these difficulties,” Goodall explains, “iMin Solutions offers a program to setup and commission the MinSCAN system and associated sample preparation laboratory, along with an extensive training program. This will allow site personnel to operate the system and undertake basic reporting themselves. This model focuses on upskilling of on-site capability to undertake routine mineralogical analysis and basic reporting. iMin Solutions will provide remote data analysis, auditing and QA/QC to allow the operational personnel real time access to world leading experts in operational mineralogy. In addition, iMin Solutions will provide ongoing training to continually improve the skills of the operations personnel, allowing progressively more complex data analysis to be completed on-site.”
On one site that has recently set up a MinSCAN system, 14 personnel have been trained in sample preparation, data analysis and basic reporting, resulting in the successful operation of the operational mineralogy project onsite. The project has already resulted in $1.5 million per month of increased revenue based on the mineralogical data being generated.
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