Surface mining industry association Aspasa has called on miners to use the lag between the opening of surface mines and the delivery of products wisely, by preparing smart stockpiles, internal roadway systems and traffic separation measures to deal with the tide when markets reopen.
Aspasa director, Nico Pienaar, says that while surface mines have been allowed to operate at 50% of capacity since relatively early in the lockdown period and 100% after 1 May 2020, markets for the products including commodities, construction products and others, will remain closed until further restrictions are lifted.
“It is foreseeable that a mine operating at 100% capacity will need to stockpile products until the market reopens. We are, therefore, advising mine managers to do their research upfront and carefully plan for reopening, while also bearing in mind safety and speed of movement.
“At this point it will also pay to take heed of upcoming legislation that will require separation of traffic, including mine vehicles, road vehicles and pedestrians to avoid collisions. In this way smaller-scale surface mines can reduce the risk of collisions and thereby avoid the requirement for potentially costly Proximity Detection Systems (PDS).
“At the same time, decongestion of stock yards and collection areas will result in smoother traffic flows and speed up the transport of products from the mines to meet the massive expected demand that will follow,” says Pienaar.
He adds that road maintenance on the mines should be a top priority during this lag period as it is key to speeding up production and significantly contributes to the lifespan of equipment used on the mines.
The period also offers a perfect opportunity for overall maintenance of the mine’s equipment and infrastructure. Administrative staff and management should also use the opportunity to refine systems and pay attention to the upkeep of legislated requirements, record keeping, systems and standards.