SMART Benchmarking Project

Contact Information

Carolyn McCannon
Nathan Hoffman
A Golder Associates Company

(314) 984-8800 phone
(314) 984-8770 fax

About SMART Benchmarking


The Surface Mine Association for Research & Technology ( is an association of surface mining companies formed in 1995 to develop a coordinated approach to technology development for the mining industry. Collectively, members have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be used effectively to direct research programs and other initiatives for the mining industry.


The SMART Benchmarking Project was initiated in 2003. The vision for this initial effort was to provide a means for low cost continuous benchmarking that would expand to include many surface mining operations.

For each participating mining firm, benchmarking supports learning about best practice achievement in a performance dimension as a means to augment those dimensions where best in class performance has already been achieved.

To support a sustainable benchmarking effort that would easily accommodate new mining participants over time, an innovative approach is used. The project development is designed in a staged format, so that new mining firms can join the already participating mining firms at any time. This keeps costs to a minimum, and enables ongoing expansion of the program capability to ensure viability for all participants. Initial set up costs for each new participant are kept to a minimum and costs for reporting are very low, resulting in a high value return for each participating mining firm.

Every quarter, participating mining firms submit monthly mining information related to production, availability, utilization and other time-based metrics as determined by the participants. These incoming data for trucks, shovels and support equipment are normalized based on agreed to common definitions for key performance parameters. The information is summarized and reported quarterly to enable participants to determine their relative standings and explore opportunities to achieve better performance. Provision has been made within the benchmarking framework for firms to network with each other in areas of interest.

Marston Canada Ltd., a third party consulting firm with mine engineering and mine planning experience, manages the benchmarking data and confidentiality of information for the participants.

Marston’s benchmarking project implementation efforts include:

  • Develop data gathering techniques (means of collection and storage practices for data control and normalization, common metrics for comparison, data templates and database design and preparing data/reports using preferred format for data)
  • Gathering reports/analyses for the industry participants involved with SMART
  • Security and confidentiality of information belonging to identified parties
  • Identification of best practice among participants

Project development is staged so that participating mining firms can join at any time while keeping costs to a minimum and expanding program capability to ensure viability for all participants. Initial participants in the project were Syncrude Canada, Suncor Energy and Albian Sands Energy. Several other major surface mining companies have joined the benchmarking project since its inception.

SMART Benchmarking Benefits

  • Increased management confidence
  • Momentum for continuous improvement
  • New ideas exchanged around measurement techniques
  • Clarity established around data definition
  • Exchanged knowledge about common equipment issues

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This site is sponsored by SMART (Surface Mining Assocication for Research and Technology). See