Blog February 7, 2024

Critical Spares Inventory in Mining Operations

By Chris Hagle
February 7th | 4 min read

*updated Feb 14th 

Maximizing Mining Operations Efficiency with Critical Spares

Pallets of Wisdom - Chris Hagle

The capital investment required for mining operations is substantial, with significant costs attributed to equipment, repairs, and other ongoing operational expenses. To paint the picture, a single haul truck has 6 wheels that cost $50,000 each.

The round-the-clock, ‘365-days-a-year’ nature of operations leaves little margin for error and creates an environment where the cost of downtime can escalate exponentially.


Given the high costs of operations, achieving a return involves extracting the material quickly and minimizing downtime.

Critical spares play a crucial role in maintaining continuous operations, contributing to managing unplanned downtime, saving maintenance budgets, and enhancing productivity.

Learn more about critical spares in Chris Hagle’s latest #PalletsofWisdom post below.

The Benefits of Optimizing Critical Spares Inventory in Mining Operations

Mining companies understand the importance of effective inventory management and optimization in ensuring the success of their operations. With critical spares playing a vital role in maintaining asset performance and minimizing downtime, it is crucial for mining organizations to invest in optimizing their inventory. Many companies fail to recognize the hidden costs associated with neglecting this essential component of their operations.

However, this neglect can have far-reaching consequences that impact not only the bottom line but also the overall efficiency and productivity of the business. By applying effective strategies and tools for managing critical spares, mining companies can realize numerous benefits, including cost savings, improved asset management, and increased working capital.

What are Critical Spares?

Critical spare parts inventory refers to the stock of essential components and equipment that are necessary for the smooth operation of a business. These spare parts act as insurance against unexpected breakdowns or failures, ensuring that production or services can continue without significant interruptions.

Importance of Critical Spares Management

In the mining industry, keeping equipment up and running is key to staying productive and profitable. Any unplanned downtime can result in significant financial losses and disruptions to operations. That’s where critical spares come in, essential for minimizing downtime and keeping assets performing at their best.

However, managing critical spares effectively is a complex task. Mining companies often face challenges in maintaining optimal inventory levels, balancing costs, and preventing stockouts. Without proper management, organizations may end up with excess inventory, tying up valuable working capital, or face situations where critical spares are unavailable when needed.

Enhanced Asset Management

Optimizing critical spares inventory goes beyond cost savings. It also enables mining companies to improve their overall asset management practices. By focusing on critical spares, organizations gain a deeper understanding of their assets’ reliability and maintenance requirements.

A holistic asset management approach involves not only keeping track of assets but also monitoring the availability and condition of critical spares. With a suitable system in place for supervising critical spares and their impact on assets, mining companies can identify trends in consumption, spot maintenance plan realignment needs, and improve asset performance.

Factors to Consider When Managing Critical Spare Parts Inventory

Managing critical spare parts inventory requires careful consideration of several factors to ensure optimal performance and cost-effectiveness. These factors include:

  1. Demand forecasting: Accurately forecasting the demand for spare parts is essential to avoid stockouts or overstocking. Historical data, equipment lifecycle analysis, and customer demand patterns should be considered to determine the right inventory levels.
  2. Lead time: Understanding the lead time required to procure spare parts is crucial. This information helps in planning and ensuring that the necessary spare parts are available when needed.
  3. Supplier relationships: Building strong relationships with reliable suppliers is essential for timely delivery of spare parts. Regular communication and negotiating favorable terms can help in maintaining a steady supply chain.
  4. Inventory tracking: Implementing an efficient inventory tracking system is essential for monitoring stock levels, identifying slow-moving or obsolete parts, and ensuring accurate record-keeping.
  5. Risk assessment: Conducting a risk assessment to identify critical components and potential failure points helps in prioritizing inventory management efforts. This ensures that the most crucial spare parts are readily available, minimizing the impact of equipment breakdowns.

Case Studies: Companies That Did Not Have Optimal Spare Parts Inventory

Several real-life examples highlight the significant impact of neglecting critical spare parts inventory on businesses:

  1. Case Study 1: Gold Mine with Excess Inventory: A Canadian mining company neglected their critical spare parts inventory, resulting in excess obsolete inventory.  This led to millions in working capital being wasted in inventory that was no longer needed to support mining operations.  Additionally, this excess inventory was utilizing space in their central warehouse, hindering operations and storage capabilities for spare parts that were still required. By implementing an effective spare parts management system, the company was able to reduce working capital, improve productivity, and enhance mining operations.
  2. Case Study 2: Gold Mine with Consistent Shortages: A mining organization was setting up a new critical spare parts storage facility in Northern Ontario. This facility was to support a nearby gold mine with daily shipments of critical spares and consumables.  Due to the lack of consumption and maintenance schedule data, the company consistently shorted parts, causing issues at the mine disrupting production.  By implementing an inventory tracking system, the procurement team was able to understand what parts were on hand, ensuring sufficient stock to meet mining needs.

So What?

Neglecting your critical spare parts inventory can have severe consequences for your business, including increased downtime, higher maintenance costs, and dissatisfied customers. By recognizing the hidden costs involved and implementing effective inventory management strategies, you can minimize unnecessary expenses and maximize productivity.

Investing in technology solutions, such as inventory management software and predictive analytics tools, can streamline spare parts management processes and provide real-time visibility into inventory levels. Additionally, following best practices, such as regular audits, collaboration with suppliers, and continuous improvement efforts, helps maintain an effective spare parts inventory system.

By taking action to prevent the hidden costs of neglecting critical spare parts inventory, businesses can ensure smooth operations, reduce expenses, and enhance customer satisfaction. Don’t overlook this essential component of your business and start giving your critical spare parts inventory the attention it deserves.


Looking to learn more about optimizing operations in this industry? LIDD will be attending PDAC 2024, the world’s largest mining convention, where we look forward to further exploring how we can help maximize businesses’ mine-to-market value chain. Learn more about the event and hot to get in touch with us beforehand here.

Ready to take your operations to the next level? Connect with a supply chain expert to learn how you can maximize productivity in your workplace.

Learn More

Let’s build world-class infrastructure together.

Book a Consultation

Are you ready for logistics automation?

Take our readiness quiz to find out!

Begin Assessment