Mining for Success: Seizing Opportunity in an Ever-Shifting Market

The Work

The initial challenge involved a $1.5 billion underground mine project that was in jeopardy of losing its funding from the parent corporation. Work was behind schedule, costs were running over budget, and safety had become a concern, all prompting headquarters to issue a directive: turn the project around in three months or lose the allocated budget altogether. Headquarters had also replaced the unit’s top senior leaders, all of whom had been well-respected by other key leaders on the project. There was unresolved resentment at the organization’s highest tiers of leadership and beyond. Along with the challenges at hand, there was also great potential opportunity, with an active and improving market for the kind of valuable assets that would be extracted from the mine.

JMW was engaged to support the senior team in turning the situation around. The new leadership team could see that this would require reaching closure on events to date in a way that would enable them to more powerfully focus on current and future challenges. At the same time, there was a pressing need to design a plan and galvanize and align the team around it. This would help equip them to deliver on their chief immediate objective of delivering a business case to the corporation’s executives within three months, demonstrating the project’s viability and the leadership team’s capacity to move forward and successfully, safely, and cost-effectively complete the project.

The work began with interviews with all key leaders and influencers working on the project, followed by analysis and diagnostic review. Then JMW led a two-day leadership foundation and alignment workshop designed on the output of the diagnostics. Throughout this process, the consultants worked closely with the project director accountable for the turnaround. The effort was in part an intervention designed to help the team agree on certain learnings from the past, then effectively shift focus to a clear and aligned agreement on what their collective future success would look like. The workshop also involved intensive consulting and coaching to help the team break through existing obstacles and articulate how exactly they would approach the aggressive work schedule required to deliver the mine over the next two and a half years.

Before the three-month deadline, the senior team delivered a presentation to headquarters that resulted in the continuation of funding for the project. Corporate executives were swayed by:

  • An action plan drawn up around the establishment of a high-performance team and new standards for the results that to be delivered;
  • A safety component of that plan which addressed key concerns and effective ways to move forward;
  • A priority of cascading the vision for the mine to the rest of the organization, including front-line managers and their teams;
  • An aspiration that reached beyond delivering on the business case, setting new industry benchmarks for the specialized type of block cave mining they would employ to deliver on the project; and
  • The conviction, commitment, and integrity of the leadership team’s thinking was demonstrated by the way they communicated their visions not as an idea, but as a solid promise.
Case study PDF available upon request.  Please contact Jamie Tiska.