Cooperation and Collaboration Equals A Formula for Project Success
Every day employees are asked to identify opportunities for improvement and many valuable projects are added to project reports at mines and plants all over the world. Some affect production; others affect cost, still others shorten timelines of development or administrative activities. The list may include projects such as:
-Drills waiting for water ($400,000 value)
-Shift change hand-off - communications ($600,000 value)
-Warehouse process for maintenance ($250,000 value)
-Permitting delays ($300,000 value)
-PM process – haul trucks ($550,000 value)
-Haul truck tire life ($1,250,000)
-Consistent particle size to the mill ($2,000,000)
-Tailings pump failures ($1,500,000)
Project teams are formed and team meetings commence as projects are kicked off. Data is collected and analyzed to confirm the magnitude of problems and teams report their findings to management. The next step is where the risk of loss is the greatest! When action plans are proposed, momentum can be lost due to a lack of cooperation and collaboration between departments. This can happen even if people are given the time and money to complete them. Sometimes all work stops and projects are reclassified as “inactive” or “incomplete” and put on the back page of a project list spreadsheet that no one sees.
If this is happening at your site or company, it is time to ask two important questions:
-Cooperation and collaboration are “cultural choices” initiated by management. If a project’s value is real and if people and money are not limiting factors, why is it OK for management to “walk away” from dollars that could be captured with different choices?
-Why does management accept the lack of cooperation and collaboration as normal or something that can’t be changed?
The answers to these questions involve two things:
- Culture. Simply stated, culture is “how people work with equipment and each other”. Culture is born from management systems, not the workforce. Culture intersects with projects when multiple departments MUST behave as one team to capture the dollars at stake. Creating and sustaining a collaborative culture depends on a collective “choice” that supersedes management tools and policies that “divide” people. These tools and policies make it really hard to “choose” and sustain a different way to work. In many cases, the choice puts an entire project’s value at risk!
- Beliefs about change. Decades of change management work has ignored, overlooked or underestimated the role of management systems in the change process. The barriers that prevent a collaborative culture from forming act like bottlenecks in project timelines and ROI. Because potential profits are “trapped” by these barriers, understanding project barriers is just as important as understanding bottlenecks in a production value stream. Why? Because once they are understood, they can be removed.
If you manage projects and have made promises about project ROIs or timelines, you need to know how to create a culture that can deliver on those promises. Remember, all projects deaths caused by culture are preventable – all it takes is a new perspective about culture’s contribution and a commitment to a different way to work.
About the author: Kay Sever is an industry leader in performance optimization and change acceleration. She helps companies experience “break-through change” by removing the barriers that hold them back. To assist with this work, Kay created a management training program that changes the way people think about change, their role in change and their beliefs about what is possible to change and achieve. It prepares companies for the optimization process and builds trust and management credibility. See MiningOpportunity.com for details on her services, contact information and products.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is producing two million tonnes per annum of high grade iron ore in the first phase of development, with expansion possibilities of greater than six million tonnes per annum of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”