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Mine Water Management Musings

Reflections from discussion on risk and tools

I love new ideas, challenging the status quo, getting passionate people thinking and reacting. With that in mind and searching for opportunity, I went to my mining company buddies and held a few discussions about mine water management, risk, and tools. I repeat some of my findings below. The approach was not rigorous and largely focused on testing an idea I have been working on, so hopefully I am not too biased in my summary!

Repeated insights:

  1. Water is not seen as a standalone issue, it is usually on the back of something e.g. a tailing dam project.

  2. Several tools relating to water management are used on sites and each area seems to have its own tool(s).

  3. Water spans many areas, however, there is not a lot of collaboration on-site between those areas.

  4. In larger multi-site companies, the de-centralized business model is the norm which means sites are largely autonomous and make their own decisions.

  5. Smaller companies typically require people to multi-task and cover more areas and therefore need to be more efficient. Smaller companies have less technology and less culture/appetite/resources towards modernization/digitization.

My takeaways from the discussions:

  1. Water and its significance is somewhat undervalued, and only becomes a focus when there is a crisis.

  2. An integrated approach to water management brings efficiencies and helps manage the risks better.

  3. A collaborative approach sounds good but may find more barriers than green-lights from participants.

  4. Tools need to be simple, focused on the need, and bring value - without a big cost 😊.

In addition, in my experience:

  1. Water management in mining does not need to be a cyclical crisis focal point i.e. an issue and a hassle only when it rains, or if it doesn’t….

  2. Water can be an asset, of value, and an enabler.

  3. More sensors, software and widgets are not necessarily the answer – many tools for good water management are already available in-house.

  4. The issue is not the number of data points and their availability on line – the issue is if the right data is being collected and if anyone is actually looking at it to make sense of it.

My next step will be to work on a modified version of what I have been developing to get further feedback – as they say “if you build it, the people will come”!

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