Long Term Experience
Special note on long term experience of Dr. Andrew Vince with metallurgical audits of coal preparation plants.
Andrew Vince was first introduced to the problems associated with estimating operating efficiency in the late 1980’s while employed as a fresh graduate chemical engineer by BHP (now known as BHP Billiton) in New South Wales. He led his first team of 30 sampling personnel in 1987 to determine the operating efficiency via metallurgical audit of a large coal preparation plant on the south coast of NSW. This assignment revealed serious processing inefficiencies that were causing yield losses valued at around 30 million Australian Dollars annually.
Follow-up work identified solutions that, following implementation, were shown to bring the operating efficiency to world’s best practice and bring overall plant yields to budget levels.
This assignment introduced the concept of metallurgical auditing as a major business tool for BHP coal preparation operations. It quickly became regular practice within the group. This assignment was also recognised by the award of the Institution of Chemical Engineers medal to Andrew Vince in 1991.
Andrew Vince co-authored and presented the seminal paper for the Australian coal preparation industry in 1991 and has been involved, save for a few years in general management roles in BHP, ever since. During this time he has developed a substantial personal database relating to the expected performance of virtually all equipment items used in modern coal preparation plants. Such a database provides an invaluable benchmarking basis to use for diagnosing and troubleshooting preparation plant performance.
More recently, he has developed a technique to reliably estimate the errors associated with such techniques.
Coal preparation plant operating efficiency assessments have been undertaken by, or involved, Andrew Vince at BHP operations located as follows:
- NSW south coast plants x 4, Coal preparation plants at integrated steel works
- NSW north coast plant 1, coal preparation plant at integrated steel works
- NSW north coast plant 2, coking and thermal coal preparation plant
- Central Queensland plant 1, coking coal preparation plant
- Central Queensland plant 2 x 2, coking coal preparation plant
- East Kalimantan (Indonesia) coal preparation plant.
Coal preparation plant operating efficiency assessments have been undertaken by Elsa Consulting Group Pty Ltd at the following locations:
- Central Queensland plant, coking coal preparation plant
- NSW south coast plant, Coal preparation plant at integrated steel works.
 Vince, A., Smitham, J. and Keast-Jones, R., 1991, “A Comprehensive Metallurgical Auditing Technique for Eliminating Latent Processing Inefficiencies”, in Lean, P (Ed.), Proceedings, Fifth Australian Coal Preparation Conference, Paper H2.