Integrating Remote Mining Operations

BCG helps a sprawling mining operation centralize operational controls and consolidate new technologies.

MineCo is a bulk commodity producer with a complex supply chain within a single province. The company has multiple producing pits, crushing and screening units at a number of inland hubs, a rail network, stockyards that blend multiple product grades, and port operations. Each site operation had a control room for operations monitoring and coordination, but volume growth had increased the scope and complexity of operations, producing increasing interdependencies across the network. 

To improve coordination and boost productivity, BCG helped MineCo launch a project to consolidate operations monitoring and control into a central hub located in a city hundreds of miles away. Although the individual components of enabling technology were already in place—sensors and actuators, control systems, network connectivity—it was the combination of those technologies, and coordination across multiple vendors, that made the difference. 

The initiative relied heavily on elements from BCG’s Mining Operating Systems Transformation (MOST) approach. It included integrated planning across sites, functions, and different time horizons; governance, compliance, and risk management plans; data analytics to identify and address bottlenecks; streamlined process workflows within physical operations; change management efforts that focused on where people are located and how they can work together more efficiently; and a culture of continuous improvement. 

The benefits to MineCo have been substantial. The integrated center was completed successfully on time and under budget, paying for itself within 18 months. Hundreds of employees were relocated to the city, reducing fly-in, fly-out, and accommodation costs. Gaining real-time visibility into where, when, and how bottlenecks shift across the supply chain allowed management to focus improvement efforts, which delivered measurable productivity gains and cost savings.

The center is enabling pilot programs of other technologies and experiments with big data and advanced analytics. Tightly integrated plans and a stricter adherence to schedules have decreased the variability inherent in many mining operations and have led to a safer operating environment.

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