Independent project management: total management for frontier mineral development

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 814, 1980

J.E. MARSHALL Vice-President, Strathcona Mineral Services Limited Toronto, Ontario

The concept of employing a project management team to coordinate all aspects of the construction of a new resource development has gained wide acceptance. This team can be formed from within the staff of large mining companies or contracted from major engineering firms and consultants. The mandate of the project managers usually terminates on successful startup of the operation. For frontier mineral developments in the Canadian Arctic or in the developing countries, startup and the initial year of operation represents the period in which the project is most vulnerable to technical, political and managerial problems. A complete change of the management team or the retention of the construction project managers and the resulting cost combined with the breakdown of organizational accountability within the operating staff are unnecessary management problems.Independent project management services provide the commitment necessary to sustain the continuity of management through all project phases. Efficiency and the ability to make decisions quickly are characteristics of the many successful small mining companies. These qualities are necessary in the project management group, which will be responsible for up to 90% of the preproduction costs.Continuous project management in the construction and operational phases of a mineral development are common in the iron ore industry, but remain anomalous in the base metal, energy mineral and industrial mineral fields.The Nanisivik project on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic is used to illustrate the advantages of total project management through construction and operation.Total project management has further potential for foreign interests and financial and utility organizations desirous of participating in the Canadian mining industry, but with no direct involvement in the construction or operating management. Participation agreements in the operating phase of a project can be negotiated to have management fees related to both the production and the profits of the enterprise.
Keywords: Nanisivik Mines Ltd., Mining operations, Project management, Mineral development, Arctic, Baffin Island, Financing, Personnel, Training, Logistics.