Managing Knowledge Loss Over the Life of Mine: Opportunities and Challenges

Mining is a transient industry, with knowledge loss occurring due to poor documentation, staff turnover,
and//or the impact of an ageing workforce. The loss of corporate knowledge from a mine site is a risk that
largely remains unmeasured throughout the mining life cycle. Business impacts may include: lost time
and increased costs from rework and duplicating effort; risks and opportunities not identified and
managed; diminished trust and reputation with key partners/stakeholders; reduced team productivity;
unfocused business planning objectives, and limited continual improvement.

Two types of knowledge are reviewed in this paper: explicit knowledge that can be easily measured,
accessed, and verbalized (e.g., reports, data, and drawings); and tacit knowledge that is undocumented
and difficult to communicate or record (e.g., people’s experience, instincts, etc.). Transferring both types
of knowledge over the life of mine is important in managing net direct (C1) cash cost (i.e., onsite costs of
mining/processing/smelting excluding company overheads); achieving long-term operational
performance; and sustaining resiliency through challenging times. Furthermore, long-term legacy risks
and opportunities can be identified, managed, and accurately reflected within mine closure plans and life
of mine Asset Retirement Obligation estimates. It is important to develop key knowledge transfer
practices with future custodians of the mining lease to achieve these long-term planning outcomes.

This paper discusses key practices used in knowledge transfer over the life of mine that may
increase a mine operator’s resilience to change and reduce long-term closure liabilities. A range of case
studies are reviewed to highlight how knowledge transfer affects the management of high-hazard
activities and the ability to achieve long-term performance objectives. In addition, a group of mining
industry professionals, who rely on the outcomes of good knowledge transfer, were surveyed to support
this study. This paper targets mining industry leaders, specifically those responsible for managing projectrelated

Sanders, J. and M. Wendtman. 2016. “Managing knowledge loss over the life of mine: opportunities and challenges,” in Risk and Resilience Mining Solutions, 2016, Vancouver, BC, November 14-16, 2016.