Innovation in pit to port logistics

By Paulo Cardoso de Campos, Ports and Marine Project Manager, APAC/Africa

As they become increasingly scarce, natural resources seem to emerge in locations that are even more remote and difficult to extract.To overcome the challenges of moving resources from their origin to their final destination in the most cost effective and sustainable way, mining companies must implement innovative logistics transportation solutions.

With the potential for logistics systems to significantly contribute to the success or failure of a project, the design process should always challenge the “status quo” to identify uncertainties, bottlenecks and opportunities in the early stages of a project.

The thirst for innovation from owners and operators to achieve a cost-effective, sustainable approach relies on engineers’ creativity and experience to identify feasible technologies that are applicable in the project.When choosing an engineer or company for this, it is important to explore the engineers’ abilities to develop transportation methods that also comply with project criteria and most importantly consider community and environmental conditions that define the realistic range of potential logistics systems alternatives.

As projects demand smart, fast and reliable solutions, the community and environmental concerns must be taken into consideration from the beginning. When not addressed properly, they can create a bad perception of any proposed logistics system, with potential project-ending results.

A proactive approach is the best method to build strong support from key stakeholders. Adoption of sustainability practices and a detailed impact evaluation during early stages of the design phase bring an opportunity to forecast the environmental and social impact in a specific model, and open an opportunity for innovation and new technologies which may have been overlooked by the stakeholders.This has proved to be essential to a project success.

We cannot ignore the fact that no matter how we engineer, the logistics system is likely to disturb the communities and environment surrounding the project, particularly when it is located in remote areas and/or in environments where logistics systems have not previously existed. A “Listen-Think-Design” approach challenges engineers to avoid jumping into solutions without careful consideration of all issues involved in a project. Engineers should move away from the temptation to select preferred alternatives right from the beginning. If a solution worked in a similar project it doesn’t mean it will work for this one. The speed of the design process relies on the use of innovative methods.

Intuition and traditional design processes alone will not provide an accurate and optimal result for complex models. The use of simulation technology applied in early stages of the design process provides a detailed evaluation of transportation methods exhausting alternatives and risks in a short period of time to confirm the most likely solution for the logistics system.

In summary, I believe a holistic framework is the best approach to support the effectiveness of logistics transportation systems in mining projects. Such an approach enables project teams to provide an interactive and innovative design process combining different scenario results in an optimum solution adapted to the specific mining, community and environmental needs.

For more information, please contact Paulo Cardoso de Campos (paulo.cardoso@ausenco.com) or Joel Shirriff, Vice President and Global Practice Lead, Terminals and Transportation (joel.shirriff@ausenco.com)