Psychology of safe mining: What mine managers need to know
Approaching and implementing safety is somewhat of an enigma in the mining sector. Is it more about applying daily reminders or creating a culture within the organization?
A major indicator of a company’s commitment to safety can be found in their number of accidents. The less number of injuries and fatalities the better. In addition, miners typically use leading and lagging indicators to rate their performance and measure areas of improvement.
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And while it appears safety in the mining industry is reaching new heights, the numbers simply don’t lie. Fatalities continue to be recorded all across the mining sector. In fact, Queensland, Australia – one of the top mining jurisdictions in the world – just recorded its worst year for mine fatalities in two decades.
According to industrial psychologist Corrie Pitzer, mine managers need to dramatically rethink their approach to safety.
"The better we become with managing safety, the worse we become in leading the culture of safety," said Pitzer, president of SAFEmap International, a leading provider of competency based training solutions for the mining, processing and manufacturing industries.
Pitzer said companies spend too much time and resources on small injuries, which leads to damaging ‘fear’. "[It introduces] fear to upset the apple cart, fear to respond and notify when things aren't going right.”
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According to Pitzer, management is a science and leadership is an art, where leaders share their passion and inspire others.
"That's the difference between leading an organization and managing it; when you lead them, you give people the comfort to fail, and you support them when they fail."
The first step to reverse the mining industry’s current trend, according to Pitzer, is to first define safety. "The readiness to respond to risks - if you define it that way, you take completely different ways; if you truly care about people, you make different decisions."
According to Pitzer, human beings are incredibly capable entities, but are treated as stupid when it comes to safety. He believes emboldening workers would achieve different results.
"If we have designed our [safety systems] around the opposition notion - that humans are incredible, humans are awesome - you'd get completely different outcomes; you'd get people inspired, wanting to contribute, and making huge successes happen for the organization," said Pitzer.
Corrie Pitzer is a specialist in behavioral safety and strategic safety management, and is a leading consultant in this field throughout Australia, North America, South America and South Africa. His work is based on extensive research which resulted in his establishing a new concept in safety: (Risk) Competency-based Safety (CBS).
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.”