The key thing for mine planners to remember is that a mine does not start with the hole made in the ground, which then supplies a process plant to generate revenue and the plant tailored to meet the miner’s expectations. A mine is a manufacturing plant which requires a certain raw product to be delivered at one end, whilst optimised to produce a final saleable product or products (of highest value). The raw product (input) is the supply of rock by the miners to the liking and requirements of the plant. Short term plans often encounter the reality where planners and the mine production teams are focussed on production and productivity, yet the plant supply and quality of supply takes second place. This is a common challenge in the industry, one where short-term planning with Grade Engineering could likely play an important role, ultimately improving the quality of the input to the plant with less arduous strategies and limited impacts to mine productivity.
It is vital that the long-term, medium-term and then the short term mine planning approach, goals and targets are totally aligned as variations within any of the planning processes and structures could yield impractical goals and render the execution of the plans impractical to virtually impossible. Short term planning is therefore one of the key final steps within the complete planning process and where the activities need to be scheduled on a daily even hourly basis. This is the stage where equipment and mine productivity criteria are crucial and needs to be optimised for all activities. Many mine planning cycles and processes seem sound on a long- and even medium term mine planning basis, however, when the detailed analyses are performed and the short-term plans are developed, the disconnects are often uncovered. All mine optimisation and strategic objectives are worthless unless the short term plans and schedules are able to deliver a sound, robust and practical schedule of activities and actions which makes it possible to achieve the plant targets, not only quantities but also qualitative targets.