My purpose is to help mines increase their profitability by improving their mine planning, leaving each in a better place than I found it.
Today’s landscape bears little resemblance to the one I experienced as a junior engineer back in 1990. We have incredibly powerful mine scheduling software at our fingertips, but it is pointless if we don't have a basic understanding of mine planning, the purpose for the numerous mine plans we carry out, the effect of issues such as variability and how mine planning and operations should integrate in executing the plan.
Mine scheduling is a broken model and has been for the 30 years I have been in the industry. Schedules are wrong (and often redundant) before they are even discussed at a planning meeting. KPI’s are prevalent throughout the mining industry, but I am yet to see a mine site that has a thorough system of KPI’s for measuring the quality of their mine plans, determining whether the plan is a good one, or assessing how their mine planning is trending over time. We focus on compliance to plan and hold the execution team accountable for it, without measuring whether it was a good plan in the first place and whether it could even be followed!
The mine plans are fundamental to a well-executed and profitable mine, but poor mine planning is costing the mining industry billions every year. Fixing this problem starts with educating our planners and executers to create and execute well.
I started my mining career in 1989 at Blair Athol Coal in a drill and blast engineering role, before switching to Dragline Engineer and then progressing to Senior Scheduling Engineer and Superintendent Mine Planning. ‘Go West Young Man’ was my mantra and so after 5 years at Blair Athol, it was time to try iron ore in West Australia.
I worked at Paraburdoo mine in the role of Specialist Planning Engineer before moving into the Mine Production team as Grade Control & Pit Control Superintendent. This was followed by a stint as Production Superintendent leading a team of 70 operators charged with truck and shovel operations. Along came kids and so, much as I loved my time in iron ore, it was time to move closer to home.
I helped launch the Burton Coal Mine as Technical Services Manager with Thiess Contractors. This was an awesome role, starting before the first metre of dirt was dug. I had the opportunity to design my Tech Services team and all the systems we would use at Burton. And I can't tell you what a relief it was after all those months of moving waste, to find the coal seam exactly where it should be!
After 3 years in this role, I felt ready to start my own business. I launched MB Mining Consultants in Mackay in 1999. Growth meant a rebrand in 2010 to Echelon Mining with a staff of 35 and offices in Mackay and Brisbane. During my 13 years in this business, I worked in countless on-site engineering and management roles. In addition to these roles, I've been employed on an extremely wide range of improvement projects, brownfield and greenfield mining studies, feasibility studies and due diligence projects.
After 13 years of operating and growing a mining consultancy I sold Echelon Mining and left the mining industry for 3 years. However, the calling was always there - mining is where my heart is - and so, in 2016, I started mining consulting again. And here we are...
After many years working in the industry, it is now time for me to work on the industry by influencing fundamental change in mine scheduling across more than just the sites I consult for.
What drives us in life? For me, it’s ‘When things don’t work - find a better way’.
If that sounds like you, then we're a good fit and could make a real difference together. Contact me to discuss your operation and ways we can find a better way.