In mining operations, short-term cost-cutting is often a focus in a mine's drive to improve its economics. Rock engineering, though very important to the safety of the operation, is not a part of the production process and therefore often suffers in cost-cutting exercises: for example, low-cost rock support elements may be prescribed; the minimum amount of support may be installed; low-cost, but poor quality blasting practices may be adopted. Decisions such as these, although they may be adequate for safety, often have severe economic consequences: collapses, clean-up costs, re-support, interruption of production, and in the long term, even reduction in the life of mine. Rock engineering designs therefore need to take such consequences into account, to the extent that ‘value’ should perhaps be a design criterion. In this keynote paper, I shall be summarizing outcomes of rock engineering research that have been proven to have created value for a mining operation. This research has been carried out by postgraduate students that I have supervised, and the credit for the achievements must go to them. The work is not new, and aspects of it have already been published, but the intention in this paper is to highlight the substantial additional value that can be realized if mining operations take a longer term view and consider the consequences of their design and operating decisions. It will be shown that spending money may generate much greater value in the longer term than cost-cutting. This suggests that design and operational criteria should not only be the province of the technical specialists, but that the mining executive should have his own criterion regarding any significant design and operating decision, such as, ‘What is the value created in the short, medium, and long term by the design or proposed operational change, and am I satisfied with that value?’
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Rock Engineering as a Creator of Value
Paper presented at the ISRM AfriRock - Rock Mechanics for Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2017.
Paper Number: ISRM-AFRIROCK-2017-001
Published: October 03 2017
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Stacey, T. R. "Rock Engineering as a Creator of Value." Paper presented at the ISRM AfriRock - Rock Mechanics for Africa, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2017.
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