Every year, mining companies usually announce their production forecasts to the market. However, due to the high cost of their capital infrastructure, any pause in operations, even if planned, incurs significant expenses.

Commodity prices can be very volatile, so when the price suddenly decreases, mining companies will typically try to increase production to maintain their top line revenue.  Access to timely operational & production information is essential to be able to succeed in these competitive markets.

At the same time, in the resource global market, every mining company wants to be the lowest cost provider. If they can achieve this, then they will always be competitive in their market.

To consistently achieve this, decision makers need accurate and timely information that views each operation in context across the value chain. An integrated view of operations delivers better visibility across the mining value chain, allowing mining companies to respond quickly to market changes and opportunities.

Coal mine workers in an open pit
Coal mine workers in an open pit. (Credit: Rockwell Automation)

The information revolution through Mining Operations Management (MOM)

Even though consistent visibility and operational excellence is critical, some mines are still heavily reliant on field operators, manual processes, and voice radio communications to determine if an asset is performing correctly. Conventional legacy systems were typically designed to be siloed which makes it difficult to create the right context across mining operations. Thus, to present the information to the end-users in this situation, manual processes and custom data solutions must both be used, which results in multiple custom applications creating many versions of the truth, making it very difficult for optimum decision making.

So even though the miners generate vast quantities of data about their operations every day, they still may struggle to convert it to useful, timely and accurate information for multiple stakeholders across the overall mining value chain.

This is where the value of a Mining Operations Management (MOM) platform comes into play, enhancing the utilization of data generated by current automation and control systems in mining operations.

Optimal digital solution for mine to market integration and operational efficiency

The MOM suite interprets and contextualizes data from the control, business, and laboratory systems to provide an accurate representation of production performance and availability.  It integrates and models data from existing operations and business systems and then delivers fit-for-purpose applications designed for mining that interact, share, and cooperate on the same platform to deliver new insights for better decision making that impacts bottom line. It also provides a single user-interface across all modules, and shared data between production, downtime, accounting, and reconciliation facilities – improving data integrity across the site.

Miners can choose out-of-the box functionality from MOM where they see the bigger impacts and larger returns, which includes Tracking & Reporting, Inventory Management, OEE & Asset Utilization KPIs, Downtime / Loss Accounting, Production & Performance Reporting and Metal Reporting.

With this, miners can review the performance of their processes and assets, understand the business impact of planned and unplanned stoppages, identify where production losses occur and their causes, and tackle the complexities of inventory management. In particular, `Downtime Accounting` serves as a tool to pinpoint and clarify the causes of suboptimal performance, equipment failures, and delays throughout the value chain. It is designed to integrate seamlessly with the technologies and systems miners already use, offering scalability as they update and modernize their technological infrastructure through digital transformation.

MOM can be further contextualized with sustainability data in the Sustainable Digital Factory, where the business operations and sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) can be merged to understand the positive and negative impacts of decisions. This is a new initiative by Rockwell Automation and Accenture, to help companies embrace sustainability as part of the manufacturing process.

Bringing mining to a whole new level – safe, sustainable, secure, connected, smart and compliant

Once again, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the mining industry whereby companies are increasingly seeing the need to increase production while meeting sustainability targets, reducing greenhouse gas carbon emissions and wastes toward net-zero initiatives.

In short, MOM can help identify those ways to improve production, reduce cost per ton, optimize water and energy usage and enable the workforce to be more productive and safer too.  Learn more about how this digital technology can open a new vision for mining operations.