Surface mining industry association Aspasa has advised its members to use the time between the reopening of surface mines and the delivery of products wisely, by preparing smart stockpiles, internal roadway systems and traffic separation measures to deal quickly and safely with a pickup in demand when markets reopen as lockdown regulations ease further in future.
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 May 1, markets for the products including commodities, construction products and others, will remain closed until further restrictions are lifted.
He points out that it is foreseeable that a mine operating at 100% capacity will need to stockpile products until its relevant commodities 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 in time, Pienaar says it is also advisable 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.”
In addition, he says 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.
Road maintenance at mines should be a top priority during this lag period, says Pienaar, as it is key to “speeding up production and significantly contributes to the lifespan of equipment used on the mines”.
The period also offers an 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, he concludes.