Last fall Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine was organized conventionally, with teams reporting to supervisors who in turn reported to a general foreman. With a wicket system in place, employees arriving for their shift lined up to receive their assignment from their supervisor for the day, taking them to different parts of the mine. It was a hierarchical approach that managers had determined was less than ideal.
To build the foundation for a more employee-driven organization, Red Lake management chose to reorganize operations into 14 different cells – or business units – each comprising between 10 and 15 members. Each cell is assigned dedicated resources that include equipment, labour and support of organizational structures. And each one handles its own accounting and metrics.
“Essentially, we set up each cell to act as an independent small business,” says Bob MacDonald, operations manager at Red Lake. “Collectively, we get to learn from the best practices of each unit, and independently, each unit is best equipped to deal with its own unique operating conditions. It’s a win-win.”
The planning process for the new organizational structure took three months, carried out by a team made up of a general foreman and a technical services representative as well as Trevor Krawchyk, Goldcorp’s operations excellence manager. They also worked closely with daily supervisor and technical teams to revise and fine-tune every aspect of the plan.
It was a daunting process. Krawchyk, who worked on planning and implementing cell mining at Barrick Gold’s Hemlo in 2004, says the complexity of Red Lake’s operation added to the challenges.
“Hemlo was easier because it was a standard mining method,” he says. “Here, there are two complexes, the Red Lake complex and the Campbell complex, two separate undergrounds and within those, there are captive mining areas and different mining methods, overhand and underhand cut and fill, pillar recovery and longhole, so it’s a mixed bag.”
Geography had to be taken into account, as the Red Lake and Campbell complexes collectively occupy a large area. “Keeping the cells small enough geographically so supervisors can have more face time with their employees versus spending a lot of their day travelling from one operation to another was important,” Krawchyk points out.
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