Articles for August 2015

35. Constraints: Use Them to Your Advantage

mining study management
I recently read a business book called “A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business” by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden. It describes how to use constraints, like lack of time, or money, or resources and use them to help transform your company for the better.
Here’s an Amazon link to the book.  Beautiful Constraint Book Cover
The book discusses how to shift away from the typical “victim” role by understanding how our routines control things, ask the right questions, and focus on “how” and not “if”.

Focus on HOW and not IF

A good example: one of the recommendations in the book is in your team meetings no one on your team is allowed to utter the words “we can’t because…”.  They must replace those words with “we can if…”.   This forces the generation of ideas and promotes a positive attitude rather than a victim attitude.
The book describes how many innovative ideas are due to constraints and those innovations would never have come about without those constraints.
To force innovation in your organization you can create artificial constraints for your team.  This will foster innovative thinking and push for “outside the box” ideas.  The tougher the constraint, the greater the challenge for your team.  Possibly the greater the final outcome too.
The term Theory of Constraints may be common to some.  However that concept is different than what is being discussed in the book.  The TOC essentially relies on managing a constraint or eliminating it, and then addressing the next constraint in sequence.
The book authors instead propose to exploit the constraint or leverage it to create a new possibility.  Hence the title “beautiful constraint”.

Mining has no shortage of constraints

We all know the mining industry has more than enough constraints placed upon it today. It may be lack of funding, lack of skilled talent, environmental pressures, supply-demand issues, social issues, or security issues.  Each mining project may have additional constraints, so one probably doesn’t need to create artificial constraints for the team.
The mining industry has no option but to try to use these constraints in a constructive manner.  Miners must not let them pull the industry down nor simply wait until they go away.  When people say “Mining is cyclical and it will all turn around soon.”, that’s an example of waiting for the constraint to go away.

How long do you wait before taking your own action?

The bottom line is that the book is an eye opener and enlightening.  It may be telling some of us what we already know deep inside but don’t acknowledge openly.  Don’t wait any longer, start innovating, and don’t be afraid of grand innovations.
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34. On-Line Technical Report Library

mining studies
Update: This blog was originally written in Aug ust 2015, but has been updated in Dec 2018.
A while ago (in 2015) on LinkedIn I noticed a discussion from a member of an Australian/New Zealand consulting group about developing an on-line community for undertaking free peer reviews of new resource estimates and technical reports.   The objective was to help the mining industry improve on their standards, consistency, and quality of resource estimates and the supporting technical reports.
RSC created a library of technical reports that can be accessed via a searchable map on their web site at this link.  The map functionality is quite unique and interesting.  Check it out – there are many global projects already listed on the map.
Originally they also proposed a peer review concept. The goal was to develop a team of pre-approved volunteer mineral consultants that would review the various technical reports for accuracy and compliance. The hope is that such on-going peer reviews would help improve the quality of technical work.
It appears that the peer review aspect has been discontinued.  However currently, when viewing an individual project there is an input box that asks “I would like to anonymously report a compliance or data error issue with this report.
The website also allows you to search for reports based on date, commodity, stock exchange, type of study, as well as other criteria.

Conclusion

If you are interested in the technical aspects of different mining projects in different jurisdictions, check out the website.  It provides more projects than if looking on SEDAR only.
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33. Blogging and Spam

blogs and spam
This is a short non-mining topic but it’s something I found interesting when writing a WordPress blog.  Spam and bots are everywhere.
I started this little WordPress blog a few years ago and enable the readers to comment on each blog as well as subscribe.  Well lo and behold it didn’t take long for the spam to start arriving.  Both the commenting and subscribing are affected

Commenting Spam

The image below shows the typical spam that I would get in the comments section.  Even though commenting requires one to enter an email address in order to post, this type of spam still sjows up.  It took a few weeks for it to start but at times I would be getting 5 to 10 of these spammed “comments” each day.  It’s not like my blog has a lot of followers or comments, but it still ended up a target to the bots or spiders or whatever else that is roaming around the web.

Example WordPress blog spam

The first solution is to turn off automatic commenting to prevent comments from being posted immediately on-line.  I switched to moderated comments whereby each comment needs to be manually approved by the administrator before being posted live.  However after being continually asked to approve a lot of pending spam comments, it got tiresome.  The next solution was implementing the CAPTCHA (see image below).

 

Example of a Captcha

WordPress has various plug-ins designed to limit spam.  One of the simpler solutions is to add a “captcha”, which is the little box where you need to type in a word or number.  This is designed to hinder the automated spam-bots.  CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, a great acronym.
After five days of using the captcha, I have received no new spam and weeks later still none.   However this won’t stop any manual spamming, so that will be the next thing to wait for.   It’s interesting to see how much unproductive technical energy is being expended out there in cyberspace.

Subscribing Spam

The next thing I noticed was that my subscriber list would grow enourmoulsy.  These new subscribers were all pending, meaning they did not confirm their subscription via a return email.  So it seems some bot is creating accounts, possibly sending out request-for-confirmation emails to people who never signed up. For a while I shut off the subscribe box, but recently re-started it to see if it continues.

Conclusion

What’s the reason for this specific spam that I am getting?  I understand it’s not for virus or malware purposes but part of search engine optimization (SEO).  Google search will rank websites higher on the search page if that site has many other websites linking (pointing) back to it.   So creating web links for a website on various people’s blogs will improve that site’s rank.
I also heard that if Google detects numerous phony links on my website, they will downgrade me as punishment. Unfortunately there are lots of bots and spiders crawling around the web looking for things to attack.
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