In its annual report titled Resourcing Global Growth: Strategic Report 2015, BHP Billiton noted that its continuing focus on productivity has significantly improved operating performance in each of its business areas. During the year, the company said it had reaped a 9% increase in group production (on a copper equivalent basis).
To illustrate just one area that had accrued significant improvements, the company provided the following case history associated with its Escondida copper mine.
Objective—To increase ultra-class haul-truck production time.
Approach—Escondida benchmarked its truck performance and maintenance activities, both internally and externally, and reviewed how it conducted truck maintenance and shift activities to identify improvement opportunities.
A range of initiatives were implemented to improve haul-truck production time. Less frequent and larger blasts were used to reduce interruptions to production. Trucks were only taken out of production for preventative maintenance determined by equipment condition, rather than by time in service.
The mine also implemented new break huts and shift relief, called “hot seating,” to keep the trucks moving.
Outcomes—Escondida set a new internal BHP Billiton benchmark for sustainable ultra-class haul truck performance. In FY2015, truck utilization of available time increased to 83% from 75% in the previous year. This allowed the operation to move 438 million mt of material, an increase of 6% compared to FY2014.
Productivity results—During FY2015, Escondida decreased its mine production unit costs by 10% through its productivity initiatives.
The report commented that, “Our long-term commitment to improve productivity across our company continues to create significant value for shareholders. This year, our productivity initiatives delivered $4.1 billion in productivity gains (excluding discontinued operations). This means that over the last three years, our productivity initiatives have delivered more than $10 billion in productivity gains.”