What Miners Can Learn From Farmers – Part 1

The GravelBedrock.com blog is an effort to help us better understand the development of Mining Capital Projects and how to effectively optimize the project delivery.   Although a bit obtuse, there are many similarities between mining and farming.

I was first introduced to the similarities between mining and farming when I was in West Australia, driving from one iron mine to the next. My host mentioned that many of the farmers had gone to work for the mines and had proven to be better employees than the miners in many ways. Apparently these farmers were used to working independently, were resourceful and very creative in their approach to getting results. “They can “rubber band” just about any machine or snap together all sorts of kit to accomplish any task, Mate” my host went on to say in a thick Australian accent. At the time, his description conjured up images of what I had seen in developing countries; the low cost ingenuity that people had applied to all sorts of needs… to getting their job done with the limited resources they could deploy.

They can “rubber band” just about any machine or snap together all sorts of kit to accomplish any task, Mate.

Fast forward to my recent vacation at a few different farms in the west midlands of England: I was reminded of that conversation in Australia and saw first hand how some of the fundamentals the farmers were using in managing their farms were similar to our mining projects today. Bankers, investors, mine owners, mine managers and project managers have all been asking what has gone so horribly wrong in the mining sector when it comes to developing new projects. Projects in the last few years have doubled and tripled in cost and took much longer than anticipated to be commissioned. Everyone has their  ideas of what went well and what could have been managed better in the mine development sector.

This post will consider the similarities and the differences between mining and farming to see if there is anything that miners can learn.
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