Here is sound advice on classification systems for mining. There is no magic in this advice, but we do survey much thinking and argument on the topic. And recording these ideas may just help you in better managing your mine, in making money from your mine, and in pleading the case for mining in the public forum.

The problem is stated simply: what is the best system by which to classify mining activities? This question assumes that you want to classify mining activities. You do not need to classify if you are blessed with an infinitely powerful search engine that can find anything at any time from a mass of information. For example, if you have your own Google system, you do not need to classify. Or if you do have your own Google system and have plenty of time to sort through the guff that it produces, you do not need to classify.

But if you are like the rest of us, hobbled by inadequate modern search engines or not blessed with enough time to sort through Google’s one million hits, you need a classification system. I have not yet found the magic key to mining classification systems, so what follows is but a pale reflection of many potential ideals of perfection.

By way of background note that only Carl Linnaeus succeeded in producing an accepted classification system. He established the system of grouping and naming species, families, genera, etc. in the natural kingdom. And even his system is now under attack thanks to the findings of DNA and the logic of cladistics. We have little chance of succeeding; but we need to mine, so let us proceed.

I have proposed a number of classification systems for mining operations. The first is for exploration activities. The second is for estimating the cost of a mine. Perforce I use a system in TechnoMine: seventeen topic-specific pages, each devoted to a particular aspect of mining technology and engineering. I also look after InfoMine’s Consultants section and that has its own unique classification system. Other classification systems are used on InfoMine—see for example that used by Suppliers. None of these is universal or mutually interlinked. They all work to help you and me find companies and services. We all always wish for more information faster and more logically displayed; but then we are the children of the e-age. Do you recall flipping through the little cardboard cards in the local library seeking a book on a fascinating topic? Or trying to understand the Dewy Decimal system so beloved by librarians of old?

We can postulate the desiderata of an ideal mining-related classification system: (1) universal & comprehensive; (2) intuitively obvious; (3) simple & practical; (4) programmable; (5) rapid posting and rapid retrieval; and (6) everything you ever wanted, etc. Such a system does not exist, of course.

So you have to decide to base the skeleton of your classification system on one or more of these fundamentals: (1) phase of mining—schedule based; (2) location of activity—geographic based; (3) academic discipline of doer—skill, school, college, university and/or academic degree; (4) type of widget used or produced—consulting service, contracting service, product; (5) management structure; (6) cost center; (7) regulatory compliance focus; (8) tradition—historical development of an inherited system however imperfect. I suspect there are others—let me know if you know.

Maybe all this thinking is just a dream of the perfect buggy whip. Remember the pride of the maker of the last high quality buggy whip. It was a superb object, but utterly useless as the buggy had succumbed to the motor car. The steering wheel was what people needed, not a whip to direct the horses. Maybe systematics in mining-related classification systems is doomed to the same fate as a buggy whip. For the power of the random search engine is upon us, and the sooner we get used to this and learn to use it to our advantage the better.

Fighting words. But that is what a blog are all about: a provocative idea followed by sober deliberation, followed by adoption and implementation of procedures that have stood the test of common parlance and debate. This is the process of winnowing to perfection. Please comment below to contribute.