What will halt the worldwide decline in mine equipment performance?

This was the title of a paper from Richard Adsero and Dr Graeme Lumley of GBI Mining Intelligence, which was presented at the recent SME Annual Meeting in Denver. The paper, which coincides with a report by Dr Lumley on the analysis of equipment trends in the 2013 AusIMM Revision of Monograph 19 on Australasian Mining and Metallurgy Operating Practices (AMMOP), raises some disturbing trends in worldwide mine equipment productivity. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), productivity of the whole mining industry is down 34% since 2001.

In terms of surface equipment median output, draglines are down 15% since 2003; electric rope shovels down 40% since 2003; hydraulic excavators down 30% since 2008; wheel loaders down 39% since 2007 and trucks down 41% since 2006. During this same period, best practice (average of the top 10%) has declined much less (eg shovels -8%, excavators -19% and wheel loaders -5%). The paper built on the analysis of AMMOP to understand the differences between median and best practice and identifies the factors contributing to the decline in performance. As the industry enters a period of potentially lower prices and reduced margins, pressure will increase to move more with existing equipment. An understanding of where efficiency has been lost is a key to improvement, and the authors believe that the analysis of AMMOP information in papers such as this will be crucial to reversing the decline in equipment performance.