Project solutions and engineering provider Wood PLC looks forward to participating in positive investment trends in the local junior mining sector, with the company’s capital efficiency approach designed to assist junior miners in leveraging their limited resources.
The approach consists of a suite of practices that Wood has honed over the past few years to improve its ability to achieve fit-for-purpose project goals.
The approach is directed at minimising capital expenditure, particularly during the sensitive mine development phase, without sacrificing safety or compliance objectives, says Wood project engineering manager Stephen Liversage.
“One element of this approach is a risk-based design and value improving practice that we have labelled the zero-based design. This practice is primarily concerned with aligning the expectations of clients and project teams regarding the grade of mine facilities and level of quality, thus, arriving at a shared meaning of fit for purpose,” he says.
The design is based on the premise that the facilities should be the minimum grade, but still capable of yielding a viable – if not yet optimal – productive operation.
From that zero base, variables, such as flexibility, expandability, reliability and maintainability, are modified to suit the client’s risk tolerance, preferences and target capital budget. “Zero-based design ultimately addresses the trade-off between intractable, short-term constraints and long-term, technical debt,” Liversage explains.
He adds that the approach is a flexible and scalable method that is equally adaptable to junior miners or mining majors. Juniors, however, benefit specifically from alignment at the start of the development cycle between the owner’s team and the contractor. Critical design decisions and execution trade-offs are emphasised and resolved early in project development before hampering progress and introducing rework.
Liversage declares that the design is an outcome of the project, whereas zero-based design is a methodology, deployed during planning, for investigating and exploring requirements, which is a vital part of project planning. The same impediments that bedevil proper project planning also influence the effectiveness of a zero-based design approach. Therefore, like any proactive measure, it requires commitment and discipline.
“This is to ensure that it is implemented in a way that the outcomes are beneficial to the junior, which needs to be solidly communicated and reinforced, even before undertaking the development of a mining project,” he concludes.