The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published the Guideline for Implementing Short Interval Control in Underground Mining Operations. Short interval control (SIC) is a structured system in which data from mining processes are periodically reviewed and action is taken in response to them. This guideline provides a roadmap to increase the speed and likelihood of success during SIC implementation while avoiding common pitfalls. Specifically, the publication presents a conceptual model of what SIC could look like that includes an operational framework, detailed workflows, and an outline of data enablement at various levels of maturity.
SIC has only recently begun to be used in underground mining, although it has a long history in the manufacturing industry. One challenge in implementing SIC is tailoring it to the operation at hand because underground mining conditions can be unpredictable, but the guideline offers mining stakeholders a base of knowledge of how it can be applied.
Greg Sandblom, Operation and Business Technology Lead at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore Company, says the guideline “can provide a valuable reference to mining companies during all phases of Short Interval Control deployments at existing mines or new mine projects. It can effectively act as a checkpoint to validate that lessons learned and experience from leaders across the mining industry are applied to their implementations.”
Lisa Önnerlov, Development Engineer – Industrial Design at Boliden, confirms this potential application of the guideline for those already using a SIC system. “Even though we have been working with SIC for many years, we still have a lot to improve. We face challenges like refining the overall coordination and to take advantage of new technological possibilities and make it useful in reality. We hope that this guideline will be a tool for both benchmarking and as a common reference in collaboration with other mining companies working with SIC.”
SIC has the potential to increase productivity and lower costs. As Gordon Fellows, President of Fellows Mining and Digital Solutions, says, as the practice becomes more common, it will in turn become increasingly accessible: “Achieving the greatest benefit from SIC comes from monitoring and controlling the shortest interval, but results are possible even at lower levels of maturity and at lower cost. As technology evolves, it will make it simpler and less expensive to reach higher levels of maturity.”
One highlight of the process of developing the guideline, according to Liv Carroll, Senior Principal, Mining Transformation and Applied Intelligence at Accenture, has been the input from and cooperation between various stakeholders in the mining industry. Carroll says there has been “effective collaboration between operators, service providers, consultants and technology specialists alongside the GMG team; our industry working as one for the benefit of all. In working together, we have drawn on a breadth of global and diverse experience to amalgamate leading practices into the guideline considering all levels of maturity and allowing for future evolution.”
Looking ahead, implementing SIC offers great potential for positive change in the industry because it facilitates better planning, quicker decisions, increased production, lower costs and creates a safer working environment. GMG Chair Michelle Ash says “I am very excited to see the publication of the SIC guideline because it is not only the culmination of a lot of work from many people, but also a fundamental building block for the transformation of our industry. I am looking forward to visiting mines post implementation and seeing the case studies that arise from their efforts.”
The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) is a network of like-minded companies driving change in the mining industry. Together, we monitor the pulse of the industry and develop multi-disciplinary guidelines and strategies to manage risk, enhance performance, design solutions, inform planning and decision making, and save time and money. Our members are mining companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), original technology manufacturers (OTMs), research organizations and consultants from around the world who recognize that innovation does not happen in silos. GMG improves communication and facilitates collaboration to foster a more sustainable and efficient future for mining. Through multi-stakeholder working groups, we are systematically removing the impediments to create the safe and sustainable mines of the future.