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Spotlight

A CLOSER LOOK AT IMPROVING MINE OPERATIONS

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 16:48

The goal of every operator is to continually improve efficiency and productivity. The complexity of mine operations may make this ambition seem like a titanic endeavor, however Starcore International Mines has accomplished it through a variety of measures. The company turned its San Martin gold mine in Queretaro into a model of operational excellence in just 12 months. Here is how Starcore did it.
The first step was to invest in long-term partnerships that extended not only to investors and stakeholders, but to the whole supply chain. This strategy helped Starcore improve its controlled blasting and dynamite use by switching to a dynamite supplier that offered additional support and expertise in blasting. The result? The San Martín gold and silver mine is now using low-density explosives from Austin Powder that reduce the power of the explosion, decreasing the blast area and the need for extended excavation. Miners can access the zone quicker and more safely due to less material that needs to be moved in the area. This aids in productivity and cost efficiency.
But operational excellence is not only about making operations faster and safer; staff training and work culture programs are also essential. Starcore focuses on having better-trained workers, such as engineers, to stay on top of work spreadsheets and daily reports. This allowed the operator deeper insights into the shift work underground and added a pinch of responsibility for those working under supervisors, also improving time and movement records. Theory/practice programs for machine operators also proved successful in correcting inefficient trends. The company added a structural engineering expert to help the entire team adopt better practices, reduce shotcrete use and introduce a new mining method for room and pillar mining.
Work culture is among the most important factors in any team, so San Martín’s staff runs regular meetings over the course of a day where opinions are valued, with each department providing its view and exchanging ideas. At lunch, workers are encouraged to share their department experiences and how they are improving, while also looking for collaborative solutions to problems. These small changes have translated into a massive uplift in culture and employee satisfaction across the board. Starcore’s San Martin mine has seen improvements across the board and ultimately, a new mine life of 10 years based on proven and probable reserves and inferred and indicated resources. How about that for operational excellence?