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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


PHILLIS, R.C.D.  and  GUMEDE, H.. Annual mine planning and execution buffering-a safety imperative. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2011, vol.111, n.8, pp.565-572. ISSN 2411-9717.

The annual mine planning process is one of the most important tactical/operational steps towards achieving strategic goals. These tactical plans are part of a very comprehensive Mineral Resource Management process, with the natural sequel to planning being execution. The execution of an underground hard rock mine plan is a multi-project environment that comprises many development construction-equipping-stoping single project paths, which are referred to as 'stoping paths'. The uncertainty that typifies execution of projects comes in the form of untimely disruptions to constituent tasks and/or project paths. Annual mining plans also include quantified objectives for occupational health and safety, production, quality, cost, employee morale, environment, and corporate social investment. Such objectives make for a highly complex environment that management must contend with- complex in the sense that all the paths and objectives have interdependent constraints. Furthermore, at the time of this paper, Sections 54* and 55** of the MHSA*** put the onus on management to ensure legislative adherence. It stands to reason that planning estimates allow excess capacity-buffers-that cushions the impact of untimely disruptions. This paper concerns the fact that despite all the buffers allowed for, time, scope, and budget creeps impact on mine planning and threaten its successful execution. As a consequence, the paper deals with buffer management, the essence of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM). Effective buffer management provided strategic (executive level) updates without losing the tactical/operational detail necessary for job card creation, especially where professional skills and experience are in short supply. Indicative bottom-line results showed CCPM to be highly effective.

Keywords : CCPM; buffer.

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