Mining – Productivity

Client Story: Mining – Productivity

The General Manager of an open cut coalmine had the highest productivity operation within the company group. Still he had 10% productivity improvement targets in the plan and he didn’t know how he would meet them. This is when he called in Onirik’s productivity improvement consulting team.

The GM said the reasons for his challenge included:
  • He’d exploited nearly every avenue he could identify in terms of asset management and process management, and exhausted existing business productivity ideas.
  • He’d been unable to improve business productivity to close a statistically significant gap (14%) in performance between his top excavator operators and the least productive operators. Top operators were also more consistent; their production figures varied little between simple digging situations and technically complex or otherwise difficult digs.
  • Previous conventional technical knowledge training approaches and attempts to duplicate the easily observed “external” behaviours of the top operators had yielded little lasting improvement among new or lower productivity operators.
  • Communication between frontline miners was often imprecise and counter-productive.
  • His Supervisors were caught up ‘putting out fires’ and working in the circuits rather than on the circuits.


The GM said he needed the following capabilities:
  • A means to discover the expertise (a model of the deeper structure of the unconscious competence) of the top operators – the differences that made the difference – and apply this as part of his increasing business productivity strategy.
  • A means for his supervisors, trainers and assessors to transfer this safe high productivity model to the lower productivity operators to quickly increase their productivity and consistency, thereby increasing business productivity.
  • A non-conventional training process and effective frontline leadership capabilities to ensure the model, and to ensure that any answers to the question of how to improve business productivity would lock-in and last the test of time.
  • When frontline miners were giving instructions, asking questions and providing feedback, they would do so in a way that was quick, accurate and contributed to improving company productivity.
  • During day-to-day operations his supervisors would employ a model for frontline leadership to reinforce safe high production behaviour in a never-ending search for productivity improvement.

Onirik engaged in a pilot project with a productivity improvement consultant team to provide him those capabilities. Onirik drew upon modelling techniques within our change management framework.

Client’s Results

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The results were quick and satisfactory. Productivity of the excavator operators in the pilot increased by 19.5% while those for the control group remained at previous levels. The ROI was over 900% and the payback period under 2 months. The project had paid for itself before it was complete – essentially becoming a self-funding exercise.

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