There are clear advantages to utilising a drill and blast contractor. In today’s market, miners are focused on maximising productivity and reducing costs, and smart contractors know they need to rise to the challenge if they are to survive and prosper.
This means clearly demonstrating how they perform better than their competitors and, even more importantly, they need to show how they measure up against internal teams.
Here are three ways contracted teams can outperform their internal counterparts.
- Better planning
Drill and blast contractors are specialists. This experience and skill brings a technical insight to the table and ‘think outside the box’ approach to introduce better ways of doing things that may not have been considered by the mining company.
Only integrated contractors are experienced in delivering outcome based contracts ($ per BCM), and are therefore attuned to developing ways of being more efficient. There is a willingness to challenge the mine planning to improve efficiency and lower costs. By controlling more than one aspect of the operation on a site, they can assess the resources and adjust as required. This approach has been taken at the Middlemount Coal mine where the owner, Middlemount Coal, has contracted out the drill and blast to a single service provider. The result is that production has more than doubled over a three year period, whilst using the same level of resources and completing the works LTI-free.
In contrast, single service providers can only deliver input-based contracts ($ per m, $ per tonne, $ per person) and are therefore incentivised to maximise the part of the operation they are involved with.
- Greater productivity
A contractor will target maximum drill productivity, rather than taking a ‘set and forget’ mentality. The most dedicated, internal employees are unlikely to be as motivated as a contractor that is rewarded for exceeding scheduled metres.
The client also benefits from a single integrated drill and blast team that delivers improved communication and efficiencies and reduces resource requirements, as the team is multi-skilled.
Most importantly, because the drill and blast team is integrated, a single team is working to achieve the same goals rather than separate divisional goals. A blast-only team’s KPIs are focused on loaded tonnes targets and volume blasted, whereas an integrated contractor has a holistic approach. They are more likely to focus on what will give the best overall outcome for the digging: a parked blast crew will operate the drill in crib breaks or can help the fitters; a parked driller will support the blast crew or help the fitter get a drill running sooner; a fitter will pick efficient times to park the drill for services, like firing days, so as to minimise impact on others.
- More flexibility
A multi-skilled contracting team means coverage for leave and a higher utilisation of personnel as drillers and fitters can also be used in the blast crew. Having skills in other areas also improves performance in the primary skill area – drillers are better drillers if they know how to fix their equipment.
This provides cost efficiencies and reduces downtime.
Asset owners: ask yourselves – are you really getting the best from your drill and blast teams?