Debswana’s Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) last week launched the “Diamond on Wheels” initiative, aimed at saving tyres and reducing operating costs. The initiative was also meant to address safe usage of tyres and add value to the mine’s production.
Welcoming participants last week, Acting General Manager of OLDM Bakani Motlhabani said the launch was a key milestone in the company’s tyre performance enhancement journey which seeks to improve operations tyre life to beyond 6 000 hours by 2018.
“This is in alignment with our company strategy, which focuses specifically on the two pillars of cost performance and sustainability. It is also in line with the Anglo American ‘Driving Value’ initiative which challenges operations to improve tyre performance, leading to an annual operational cost saving of US$10million across the group by 2016,” he said.
Motlhabani further said that the launch aims to create common understanding of how the company is doing in terms of tyre management practices and performance in relation to industry best practice. Giving a brief overview of the initiative, Senior Manager of Mining at OLDM-Mogakolodi Maoketsa said the roots and motivation of the initiative dates to a few years ago when significant milestones reached in tyre performance following the 2008/2009 tyre crisis showed signs of distress.
“Whilst this was partly driven by slow reinvestment in operations due to the global economic recession, the improved tyre supply versus demand abated fears of security of supply, resulting in rigorous controls that were in place before. However the reality of a relatively finite tyre manufacturing facilities capacity, with factory space pre-purchased has since prompted organizations to re-ignite their tyre performance efforts,” he said.
He explained that for OLDM and Debswana, the continued effort to derive optimal value out of business, which has been consistent through Debswana Strategies, calls for management of costs.
“In the mining environment, consumables like tyres are a leverage area to optimize cost performance. Taking into account the challenges and opportunities identified, a tyre life improvement journey map was developed to take OLDM’s tyre performance from the current state or base through three stages with a number of milestones to a desired best practice stage, where all tyres related key performance indicators will be achieved consistently on a business as usual basis,” he said.
Highlighting some of the challenges faced by the mine, Maoketsa said they have noted the lack of an appropriate site based tyre management strategy, inadequate organizational structure to effectively manage tyres, challenges with tyre performance information management, inadequate support equipment, low site severity performance and high premature tyre failures, which all lead to extensive rubber loss.
“’Diamond on Wheels’ is thus an answer to a problem that is causing sleepless nights for management at OLDM, a problem that touches the core of mining business existence in the modern day as it directly talks to safety, sustainable development and cost performance,” Maoketsa added.
For his part, The Head of Mining at Debswana, Thuso Mogotsi said tyres are one of the major cost drivers in the mining industry and Debswana is no exception. He said tyres that are not managed well will affect the bottom line and present a safety hazard. He further said the ‘Diamond on Wheels’ initiative will not only address costs but also ensure safe usage of tyres and add value to production.
“A tyre that is punctured prematurely by a sharp rock may fail explosively, sending shrapnel all over with the risk of injury to personnel within vicinity of such tyre,” said Mogotsi.
He revealed that other operations within the De Beers Group and Anglo, such as Venetia, Mogalakwena and Sishen are doing better in terms of tyre life. He urged the OLDM mining team, their partners and every stakeholder to pull together in making sure that the initiative becomes a success. The initiative was launched under the theme “Conserving tyres-The Road to Efficient Mining”. The event was also attended by Debswana’s tyre suppliers such as OTRACO, Michelin and Bridgestone.