Risk analysis insight, safety training oversight and crisis avoidance and communications services are the cornerstones of newly formed Global Mining RiSC LLC (GMR). Christensen, a global capital-markets advisory firm, and Engineering Consulting Services Inc. (ECSI), a multi-disciplinary engineering, mining, and environmental-services consultancy (both with over 25 years in business), have just created the GMR joint venture, which will be providing these uniquely integrated services for the worldwide mining industry.
It has become obvious in the aftermath of recent mining incidents in the USA that mere compliance with existing regulations and laws does not provide the safest mine environment. According to a recent, independent investigatory body, the Mine Safety Technology and Training Commission, sponsored by the National Mining Association (NMA): “At the heart of [the commission’s] approach is the call for a new paradigm for ensuring mine safety: one that focuses on systemic and comprehensive risk-management as the foundation from which all life-safety efforts emanate.” It is expected that regulatory agencies, financiers and insurers will see the benefits of GMR services for mining companies.
GMR’s goal is to partner with senior management at coal, hard rock and aggregate operations to:
1. Conduct independent, comprehensive, and integrated analyses of operations’ risks, safety and environmental performance, and programmes. GMR then provides management with recommendations to strengthen safety and environmental systems
2. Provide modern crisis avoidance tools by developing background information, action plans, training and key staff in the event of a serious incident.
Key in GMR’s ongoing efforts with at least annual frequency, will be to regularly assist each client company:
- Providing industry experts to evaluate and implement new risk management plans
- Exposing vulnerabilities and fine tuning internal company risk training and crisis avoidance programme
- Conducting practice drills for designated mine staff, e.g. managers
- Preparing regularly updated, thorough and extensive communication plans to address potential incidents based upon GMR’s risk and safety-training oversight work
- Liaising with local and regional media and handling incident-related communications.
“Geologic and other hazards will always be with us [in mining]. The key is identifying the risks and training everyone, especially the supervisors, to be vigilant and work safely,” said Dave Zegeer, former US Assistant Secretary of Labor, heading the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). “An immediate recommendation would be to have company mine inspectors spend one day each year with each employee, observing their work practices and providing appropriate (corrective) counsel as needed. The overarching goal moving forward is zero accidents equal zero fatalities.”
GMR has broad industry experience, spanning aggregates, coal and metal/non-metal sectors. J. Steven Gardner and Richard W. Phelps are GMR’s managing directors with combined, engineering/operations — ‘face’ to top-level — mining experience of over 70 years. GMR’s senior-level staff is similarly well seasoned in safety, training and communications/crisis-avoidance. Complementing the firm’s senior-level staff, GMR’s strong advisory board is comprised of prominent industry leaders who bring additional broad industry, technical and regulatory experience:
- Dr. R. Larry Grayson — Led the recent NMA-sponsored, independent Mine Safety Technology and Training Commission. He established and leads the multi-year, $4-million, federal government-sponsored, western US Mining Safety and Health Training and Translation Center (a consortium of western universities)
- David A. Zegeer —Is an experienced mining executive, with several decades’ experience managing a large, multi-mine complex
- Dr. Stanley Suboleski — Recently. served on the US Department of Labor’s Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has served on the National Review Board for Mining Safety and Health Research, NIOSH.
- Dr. John Wilson — Is an independent consultant with broad experience in international mining in Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. His decades of experience include executive- and mine-management and engineering in coal and metalliferous mines, as well as mining equipment and geotechnical-consulting companies.
- Robert Leahy — Managing Director, Christensen, has over 25 years’ experience in communications with particular knowledge of crisis and media management.
GMR has decades of mining-operations experience coupled with savvy crisis-management expertise. The team’s methodology also benefits from Grayson’s firsthand knowledge gained in the aftermath of 2006’s mine-disaster investigations. “The goal for all mining companies: zero fatalities. To accomplish this, every mine needs a sound risk analysis process,” he said. “Global Mining RiSC will assist operators in meeting the challenges of 21st-century mining. The industry will benefit from the hands-on expertise of its professionals in risk/safety-training/communications offering a complete assessment of mine operations together with tools to improve results.”