Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Karl Roes, Asset Management Adviser, Glencore
Austmine Limited

Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Karl Roes, Asset Management Adviser, Glencore

Austmine was delighted to be joined by Karl Roes, Asset Management Adviser, Glencore at our recent Mining Innovation Roadshow in Newcastle. He put together a fantastic and thought-provoking presentation that documented the success of Glencore’s Production Management Database (PMD) that was rolled out at their Ernest Henry operation.

Karl started by providing an overview of the current innovation landscape in the mining industry. He stated two values that he guides his team at Glencore by: Think outside the box – embrace and facilitate change, and find out what is not possible, then go there. Australian METS companies looking to build a platform for future success certainly should heed those words as well.

Karl then described the unique role he has at Glencore, working across all departments to facilitate collaboration and provide a holistic view of operations. This is a shrewd position that allows Glencore to break down siloes and share information throughout the organisation, with each department working towards a common goal. Karl calls this being at the “Innovation Horizon” between site level and the corporate division, mixing practical know-how with blue sky thinking. He believes that this will be crucial to achieving the digital mine, with this style of communication and integration establishing faith from mine managers and their team.

The Innovation Horizon

The Innovation Horizon

Putting this methodology into practice has been demonstrated at Glencore’s Ernest Henry operation in north west Queensland. This project incorporates a copper and gold underground mine, which was commenced in 2009 following previous open pit mining, and a processing plant. The orebody at the site is at extreme depth and a sub-level caving method is utilised by Glencore for extraction.

During 2013, the mining industry was feeling the full force of a global downturn and it became a fiscally challenging environment. Rather than focus simply on reducing expenditure, management at Ernest Henry encouraged innovative and out of the box thinking to improve productivity and decrease costs. Karl termed the mine site during this period as an ‘innovation playground’.

From this freedom to innovate, Karl’s team began developing the Production Management Database (PMD). This powerful system was built in-house with the aim of improving production tracking and management to deliver an accurate understanding of the mine and to replace undesirable processes. Ultimately, Glencore sought to improve mine status confidence, and to have two months of forward production, while maximising ore recovery and reducing dilution.

At the outset of this process, all areas of the mine were investigated, while process mapping exercises were undertaken. Operational process groups were then formed into different areas (e.g. cave management, hazard management, production reporting, shift planning) and PMD became the centrepiece of the underground operational platform.

The tool consisted of a range of elements available in applications in the market, but it was in a single operational platform that was tailored to meet the specific needs of Ernest Henry. This included:

  • Automated alerts that provided real time data
  • The ability to ingest information and data from a multitude of sources (e.g. Generating drill and blast data regardless of which design package is used)
  • Updates in packages are also automatically detected prior to the update, allowing for easier synchronisation
  • Measurement of value chain process
  • Individual location nodes that were constantly updated to provide underground visibility
  • Elimination of duplications and focus on data uniformity
  • Integrated explosives magazine management system 

Due to the strong management support from individuals such as Karl, who were working across different departments to ensure information sharing, there was a seamless integration for Ernest Henry Mining. Benefits of the PMD included:

  • Consistently higher production rates
  • Consistency in reporting and data accuracy, having detailed historical data combined with current geological data
  • Containment and improvement of draw strategy control, which influenced ore flow rates, grade, dilution, etc.
  • Day by day operational target setting and production management
  • Improved safety and efficiency of extracting underground ore

After listing these benefits, Karl labelled the overall operation as a “symphony of efficiency,” an optimal position to be in for any mining company around the world. He also emphasised that the key to success was educating people along the way, taking them on the journey with the business and helping them understand what is needed. Regardless of the power of the system, it was the human factor, and having an intermediary to connect individuals together that led to a successful innovation coming into action.

Austmine would like to thank Karl for another exceptional presentation that our members found great value from. You can see Karl’s presentation slides in the member self-service portal.


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