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Mines use opencast contractors to ensure efficiency and streamlined production – but how can mines be sure of finding the right company who will constantly deliver?

An important place to look, according to SPH Kundalila group commercial and operations manager Graeme Campbell, is at the company’s workshop and capital fleet.

“A professionally equipped workshop which is clean and well organised is usually a strong indication of a compliant and competently managed business,” says Campbell. “It shows that the business values its mechanical assets, and pays the necessary attention to keeping them operating reliably.”

Similarly, the fleet itself is one of the primary measures of a contractor’s success and commitment. This begins with purchasing quality brands which are known for their robust capabilities, and extends to their rigourous maintenance.

“We re-invest in our equipment fleet on a regular basis, keeping the average age reasonable so that all units remain productive and reliable,” he says. “This means having the right systems to closely monitor performance and apply preventative maintenance to avoid unscheduled stoppages.”

An important preventative measure is to take oil samples from the machines every 250 hours; higher-than-normal levels of certain metals in the oil indicates undue wear in key components. By investing continuously in this process, including independent laboratory testing, he points out that mechanical failure can be predicted and avoided.

“Not only does this prevent loss of production time for the mine and reputational damage for the contractor, but it also lowers the overall cost of ownership – as it pre-empts catastrophic failure and collateral damage to other parts of the equipment,” argues Campbell.

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