It should be no surprise to people in the industry that mining is already on another upward swing in output. All signs indicate that the industry is unprepared to take full advantage of this, just as it was in 2002. A recent guest on the Full Production podcast, Don Smith, talked about how mining companies haven’t done enough to keep well experienced staff onboard during the downturn, and what the repercussions of this lack of foresight could be.
While having the right staff to fill key positions on-site is one way to ensure a project’s success, there are other factors that need to be addressed to ensure rapid growth is achievable. In this article, we’re going to be looking at three ways that your mine can be ready for the next upward swing, and the benefits you’ll see as a result.
Not all processes are created equally. There are some that work best when you have a small workforce or a low level of output, and others entirely that need to be put in place when you’re scaling up to ten times your staff and/or output. Mine companies need to ensure that the processes they have in place today can easily handle increases to a much larger scale because it’s a lot easier to make changes to processes when your operation is small. Once you’ve increased your capacity, changes are not as easy to implement.
A solid organisational structure is important when establishing roles and normal operating procedures. Continuing to operate under the same structure when rapid growth impacts the business can create roadblocks and work against the success of projects. Therefore, the more flexible organisational structures are, the better-placed mine companies will be at navigating through periods of rapid growth and change.
Right People, Right Place
Having the right people working in the right positions is essential to maintain rapid growth. You need to have in place assessment procedures and training programmes that allow you to put the most qualified and enthusiastic people into key areas of your business. Because finding the right people may not always come down to the job requirements. You may find that the best team member needs several qualities that cannot be trained, like perseverance or attention to detail. When you have programmes in place that allow you to train your staff on specific role requirements, you’ll build a solid staff layer to your business that can adjust to rapid growth that impacts your organisation.
The approach that got the industry through the last upswing was to throw as many people as possible at the problems and hope it worked. This ended up cutting the industry off at the knees as most qualified and experienced people left during the downturn. By taking a long-term view and approach to the current upswing, the better-placed the industry will be to move through the cycles that are a part of mining in Australia. Through focusing on both good and bad periods, the more reliant the industry will become in the long-term as well as the short-term.
Listen to our entire conversation here.