Majority of open-pit mines adopt shovel-dumper combination due to flexibility in operation. These equipment are supported by dozers, graders and other auxiliary equipment. All these equipment are individually operated and ply across the working areas such as excavation, unloading, crushing plant, maintenance yards. And these working areas are spread over large hectares of land with/without clear visibility of all areas from a single point (usually referred as ‘view point’). Uneven surface terrain makes it difficult both in terms of equipment mobility and monitoring/managing operations.
Value chain in mining include drilling, blasting, loading, transportation, unloading and crushing. Capacity of these individual activities is determined by the capacity of equipment and number of equipment deployed in the activity. Capacity of these activities is also influenced by certain environmental parameters such as type of material, lead, road conditions and more importantly quality of input. Capacity of a mine is determined by the activity with the lowest capacity and how well all the equipment work in synchronization.
If the equipment are not synchronized, then equipment of one activity waits for that of preceding/successive activity leading to under-utilization of waiting equipment. This in turn reduces potential output of the mine. Like any other process, the capacity of mine can also be reduced due to non-availability of equipment, skill & efficiency of operators and under-utilization of equipment. In addition, there will be losses due to safety violations.
One of the key challenges of mine manager is to achieve rated capacity of the mine controlling various losses. In order to control these losses, it is essential to monitor each of these parameters either directly or indirectly (by monitoring symptoms), analyse losses and improve systems/practices, train staff so that overall mine capacity can be improved. It becomes difficult, to monitor these parameters manually and at times hinders efficiency of process itself, hence Mine Management Systems come handy for mine managers in achieving mine capacity and hence higher productivity.
Rated capacity of the mine = Lowest of capacities of all activities in mining value chain – Losses due to waiting – Losses due to environmental factors – Losses due to equipment non-availability – Losses due to operator efficiency/skill – Losses due to equipment under-utilization – Losses due to safety violations