Speaker Spotlight: Aidan Giblett

13 August 2019

With less than a month to go until MetPlant 2019, we interviewed keynote speaker, Aidan Giblett FAusIMM, Senior Technical Advisor – Mineral Processing (Newmont Goldcorp) on his presentation titled “Metallurgical Accounting in Practice: Performance Non-Negotiables”.

Aidan Giblett’s key responsibilities include providing technical support to global operations, development projects and research programs. Aidan has over 20 years’ experience in gold & base metals mineral processing and extractive metallurgy including project development, commissioning, operations and research program management, with main fields of focus in comminution, gravity concentration and metallurgical accounting.
Read more on Aidan Giblett.

Knowing your commitment to professional and technical excellence Aidan, how important is it to “Crack the Metallurgical Accounting Code”?

It’s nothing less than essential. Good operational decision making requires good data, and the most essential data for the processing plant is generated by the metal accounting process. This includes throughput, metal production, product grades and metal recoveries. Large uncertainties in the accuracy of the metal accounting system directly translate to large uncertainties in process plant productivity and the ultimate metal production. I doubt anyone would argue that this sounds like good business management, yet it’s a reality that is not uncommon in processing operations. In my 25-odd years in the industry my generalisation is that this is not an area where we have improved a great deal, and I observe the same sorts of issues continuing to compromise quality that I saw as a young plant metallurgist. One of the underlying issues is a lack of practical guidance on what good accounting system design and performance really looks like. Newmont Goldcorp has put a lot of effort into this area during my time with the company, so I hope by sharing some experiences and observations we might be able to move the conversation forward.

What are the most common issues you see in met accounting globally? Are you seeing an improvement or decline in general?

The paper will go into some specific examples, but the high impact issues follow the same general themes. Of course there is always something unusual that jumps up that might be harder to foresee, but I would generalise the main impact issues into two key areas.  Undetected drift in key instruments and samplers would be the biggest general cause of performance problems. The key word being ‘undetected’, as if these are identified quickly the impact can be minimised. Inventory measurements are another big problem area, and there are a number of things that can go wrong there. You have to dig a little deeper behind that though, as the fundamental reason these issues become high impact is more the site attitude to metal accounting. Sites that have a mature approach to continuous monitoring and management of system health are far less likely to allow these issues to persist and manifest into large accounting discrepancies. Again that maturity is something I have seen benefit Newmont Goldcorp’s operations, and is worth talking about.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s MetPlant conference?

MetPlant is always a great event with a solid technical program and it draws a good cross-section of industry professionals as a result. I always walk away from the conference with a healthy “to-do list” based on the program content, the presentations and the discussions they promote. The exhibition hall and networking events always facilitate great interaction between all attendees, and that is something I also value.

If there is one message that delegates take away from your keynote presentation, what would you like it to be?

Metal accounting shouldn’t only be something that managers and executives talk about once there is a problem; it needs to be considered on a daily basis as the core business activity that it really is. The entire organisation needs to also appreciate that leading performance in metallurgical accounting doesn’t happen without effort, ownership and sustained commitment. Once everyone from technicians to executives understand and deliver on their role in the process, high performance can become second nature.

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