How-To: Implement Efficient Tailing Management in Operations
Most of the emphasis on operational efficiency and cost reduction is on the part of the production stream that extracts product for further processing and sale. The tailings department usually manages what’s left that cannot be sold. Consequently, there is often little focus on improving tailings management activities unless an event happens. Then all eyes are on tailings, especially if that event reduces or stops production.
Tailings are a critical step in the production flow. Without it, production stops. Many very different kinds of tasks fall under the tailings umbrella. Projects such as lifts require strong project management skills. Routine maintenance of valves, hoses and lines must be scheduled. The execution of preventive and quick-response dust control plans keep particulate levels below environmental limits. An in-depth knowledge of pump operations and slurry flow is required to “manage” deposition. To complicate matters further, every tailings management team must coordinate and simultaneously monitor all of these activities over a very large geographical area, sometimes miles across.
A common concern for tailings supervisors is knowing if each crew is doing what needs to be done to accomplish the goals of the department, especially if the supervisors are “roving”. So, how can a tailings department feel confident that they can effectively manage so many different kinds of tasks and meet their goals? One thing that I suggest is a plan for the day that is created by the supervisors in a joint meeting. This plan includes equipment status, shift rotations, 5000-23 qualifications, short term goals and long-term projects. Reaching agreement on a daily plan unifies the tailings management team and gives each supervisor a broader perspective of the work to be done and how crews will meet those goals. The plan can be constructed so that each supervisor can take a copy of it in his truck when the planning meeting concludes.
This portable plan greatly improves communications between supervisors and enables them to “co-manage” a large geographical area effectively.
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.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”