Many mining operations have difficulties transitioning from the planning stage to being fully operational. This is because they focus their time and energy on the most pressing matters— permits, feasibility studies, and funding—which leaves them little time to take care of smaller (yet still important) details like their business setup.
Mining operations live and breathe financing in the planning phase. That's the reason why they also tend to miss other important things like the ERP process, platform, thinking about the overall solution—and that can come back and bite them later in their lifecycle.
In other words: they’re focused on the immediate issues and not necessarily looking at the big picture.
This is not to say that mining companies shouldn’t focus on the most pressing matters, like financing. Just that there is a risk of having tunnel vision and losing sight of the future state of the operation.
Östen Westman, Novacura’s Sales Director for the Nordics, says:
"It just seems to be more like natural law that the things like ERP and other solutions are sort of the- it's not a top priority. When it becomes a top priority, it's often too late to get the best solution. Then they have to pay a fee and they can actually also be negatively affected for a long time before they can work around some of those negative effects.”
What kind of negative effects are we talking about? Things like:
- lack of purchasing control
- poor project management control
- lower productivity
So, what can new mining operations do to make sure the transition from planning to operations is easy—without diverting attention or focus from the pressing “financing” issues? There are two key things you need.
Systems that easily scale up or down
Early in the project, it sounds very obvious, but you need certain capabilities. You need to have a project management solution. You need to have a purchase process. You need document management. There are many options for each of these processes. You might want an all-in-one solution to handle everything, or you might want to use a variety of systems for each process.
But whatever systems you choose, make sure that that will scale with your operation as it grows. That way you can build your systems and define your processes as time goes on, without paying more than you need to. For example: you know that will eventually need access for 400+ users. But maybe you only need 15 users for the first 12 months. Why pay for 400+ users when you won’t need them for over a year?
This works in the opposite way, too. If you need to ramp your production up or down depending on market conditions, that’s easy to do with a product like Novacura Flow. If the market condition is changed dramatically—very low prices or very few customers—then you need a way to ramp down production quickly and survive for months, if needed, with no operation. Then, when conditions are better, you can flip the “on” switch and ramp up again.
The key is having tools and systems in place that are flexible and adaptable. Sometimes, like with the current COVID situation, things happen with little-to-no warning. And they can affect your operation for 6, 12, or even 18 months. The ability to adapt to changing conditions, positive or negative, is a strong competitive advantage in a volatile market.
Solution consultants with deep industry experience
In the planning stages, you need expertise in process and project management. In later stages, you need people who understand mining process and IT infrastructure.
“In these type of transitions, this is where Novacura is very strong,” says Westman. “We have extensive experience with IFS Applications, which is very strong in all of these areas. And then, of course, we can put Novacura Flow on top and tailor these processes—which gives our clients a big advantage over the competition.
“There are many areas where this can come into play. It could be health and safety. Sustainability. Production outcome. Integrations with the production systems. Financial and cash flow.”
Want to see how our customers are using Novacura Flow to seamlessly transition from planning to operations? Have a look at the recording of our webinar "How to quickly transition from deposit to operations: Creating business-critical solutions with Novacura."