Change management over the life of mine: challenges and opportunities for closure residual risks


Mr Jonathan Sanders

Mining is a transient industry, with knowledge loss occurring due to poor documentation, staff turnover, and/or the impact of an increasing workforce transitioning to retirement. The loss of corporate knowledge from a mine site is a significant risk that largely remains unmeasured throughout the mining life cycle. Specific to closure, observed impacts include: unfocused goals and objectives; risks and opportunities not identified and managed; limited continual improvement; and diminished trust with key partners/stakeholders. Closure residual risks are described as either tolerable (i.e., site is safe, stable, non-polluting); intolerable, but can be practically reduced to a tolerable level (i.e., requiring remediation); or intolerable (i.e., not practically reduced resulting in long-term legacy). Two types of knowledge are discussed: explicit knowledge that can be easily measured, accessed, and verbalized (e.g., reports, data, and drawings); and tacit knowledge that is undocumented and difficult to communicate or record (e.g., people’s experience, instincts, etc.). This paper discusses key practices used in knowledge transfer over the life of mine that may increase a mine operator’s resilience to change and reduce the potential for long-term closure liabilities. Application of management practices are discussed, relative to project execution and life of mine planning. A group of mining industry professionals from various countries and technical backgrounds, who rely on the outcomes of good knowledge transfer were surveyed to support this study. This paper targets mining industry leaders, specifically those responsible for closure planning and execution.