Big business gets smart

THE 2007 Australian Mining Prospect Awards will showcase a whole-of-mine approach to innovation, safety and optimisation.

The 2007 Australian Mining Prospect Awards will showcase a ‘whole-of-mine’ approach to innovation, safety and optimisation.

A record number of entries this year has revealed a new level of innovation in the Australian resources industry.

Integrated approaches to safety, automation, environmental practice, skills training, recruitment and exploration are featured in each category.

Sophisticated planning is integrating sections of the mine that were previously unrelated, and boosts in productivity have been achieved through this ‘whole-of-mine’ approach.

The mining industry has focused on the changing profile of workers from an equipment operating role to a data analysis profile.

The push for automation is a strong theme in the Awards with Beltana Coal Mine, Ridgeway Copper-Gold mine and many others attempting to maximise workers efficiency.

Improved safety performance has occurred through automation, and mines using automated equipment have seen strong yield results.

Finalists also show a commitment to sustainable mining and environmental principles in development of new infrastructure and equipment solutions.

Mining houses are implementing water saving solutions in the face of water shortages across the country.

Springvale Coal, Illawarra Coal and Rio Tinto Iron Ore are developing site specific solutions to water shortages.

Springvale Coal’s Delta Water Transfer Scheme has a design capacity of 30 Ml per day.

Innovative solutions to mining waste and greenhouse emissions also feature this year.

The commitment shows some sections of the mining industry are willing to be accountable for their environmental footprint.

The increasing shortage of skilled workers continues to hurt the industry, particularly in regional and remote areas where skilled workers are scarce.

Skills shortages have forced mine managers to solve skills problems with automation and solutions of their own.

Mine managers have realised that consultation of the workforce can return some of the most innovative solutions to safety and productivity.

Awaba Coal Mine and Argyle Diamond Mine have usedworkforce consultation and embraced communication to improve efficiency and best practice within the mine.

A number of innovations in this year’s Awards have come from workers on the ground, including two Alcoa safety innovations.

Mine workers are practical and experienced individuals, and a ‘hands-on’ approach to safety issues is being embraced by the country’s leading mines.

Alcoa’s Western Australian operations, Myuna Colliery, Swick Mining and Wallis drilling have all reaped rewards by allowing workers the scope and creativity to develop tailored solutions to challenges in the industry.

The Explorer of the Year category in 2007 is very competitive in this year’s Awards.

Finalists in this year’s Explorer of the Year category are gold, uranium and iron ore exploreration companies.

The future of Australia’s resource industry is dependant on exploration occurring today, and the 2007 Explorer of the Year finalists have reported strong results.

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