Is there such a thing as QUALITY IN MINING? Has the mining industry ever practiced conventional quality programs? Should the average mine disturb the calm of normal life by implementing quality programs? Certainly the Quality Control Manager, if there is one, is likely to be the most unpopular guy on the mine. Unless he can show that the quality program saves money.

My first exposure to intuitive quality control in mining that made money was an uneducated fellow whose company disposed of tailings under contract to the local mines for a penny a ton. His plain attitude was that because he was getting so little, every little bit counted. He focused on every activity that cost money, believing that every penny saved was a penny earned.

He was, however, no skinflint. If he needed the best new pump he put out the money; he believed that money was never saved on cheap equipment that had a tendency to break down at inconvenient times. He investigated every little incident that cost more than it should and he changed things to make sure he never spent that extra penny again. Today we call this process Continuous Performance Improvement.

He paid his workers more than the mines he served; he believed that way he got the best employees who saved him more than their higher salaries costs. He never had to complain about a shortage of workers.

Today his company is on the stock exchange and works internationally. I do not know if they espouse the same philosophy as the earlier generations, but they are still successful. Visions of future success aside: there is, today, as compelling a reason as there ever was to implement good quality control programs. This reason is liability avoidance. How much easier today it would be to defend those old miners accused of negligence today if only they had had articulate QA Plans and had done what they wrote in those plans they did have. Similarly how much less likely is the mine to be sued in the future if they implement a good QA/QC program, etc.