Resilience is the key to surviving downturns

The diversity and unique nature of each ore body and geographic setting makes mining an overall challenging industry.

by Jessica Kirby
Duane Gingrich Headshot

Duane Gingrich — Photo courtesy Amec Foster Wheeler

Duane Gingrich, president of Mining & Metals, Americas for Amec Foster Wheeler, said resilience in commodity downturns comes from building strong fundamentals into the business, and he is sure mining companies with strong balance sheets and strategic directions can operate, and even grow, during the downturns.

“In order to be resilient, service companies must offer flexibility in how they deliver services, maintain a strong value proposition and provide a diversity of services,” said Gingrich. “At Amec Foster Wheeler, our global mining business is diversified. We can equally assist our customers from the very early environmental and consulting stages, to the project delivery or commissioning level, and asset optimization.”

The company also holds a wide range of commodity expertise allowing it to flex with customers’ needs to meet commodity demand and supply.

“With this breadth of skills, we also offer high value execution centres in India and China, supply chain expertise, strong project execution and delivery, and asset management services,” he said. 

“Because of this, despite the current downturn, our environmental and consulting groups remain active and our project delivery teams are working on projects that are more related to production
improvements and expansion, rather than new greenfield projects.”

Technology plays a strong role in the mining industry’s job market, and in a downturn, innovation is key to lowering costs and improving efficiency.

“The market demands that we explore, design, build and manage mines and operations more efficiently and at lower cost than ever before,” said Gingrich. “Although many of the traditional jobs remain, skills are evolving and developing to support the innovations taking place.”

Technological innovation affects all facets of mining from exploration, ore and waste handling and mineral processing, to how geological and metallurgical models are assembled.

“It has also affected equipment selection and the development of the infrastructure and transportation systems associated with mines,” said Gingrich. “Innovation is also found in the way projects are executed, in packaging of work, modularization and component pre-assemblies, construction techniques, and environmental mitigation technology. 

“Innovation will play a key role in the search for improved efficiency, effectiveness, safety and risk management in mining.”

Because the mining industry requires a broad range of skills, a challenge companies face is educating, hiring and retaining skilled personnel.

“To combat this, we must create excitement about what we do and achieve in mining,” said Gingrich.

“Innovation is at the heart of our industry, so we should work to highlight our innovative and
technological achievements.”

The diversity and unique nature of each ore body and geographic setting makes mining an overall challenging industry, he said.

“We must show that the industry feeds the needs of society and that mines are developed and operated with environmental and social responsibility at the core of the decision-making process,” said Gingrich.

“We can prepare for these challenges by delivering our messages directly to universities and trade schools, and through educating society about the exciting nature of mining.”
 

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