Metals, refining and processing

We deliver improved results – both in operations and in capital management, including feed optimisation and work-in-process inventory reduction – and we transfer the underpinning systems, processes and skills to your team.

We help our clients to enhance productivity and/or reduce costs while maintaining or improving their safety and environmental performance. Our consultants also work with capital project teams to optimise value and ensure effective construction and commissioning of new projects and major expansions. Our approach systematically diagnoses operating performance, then prioritises the most significant drivers, leading to rapid and sustainable improvement. We have experience in coaching our clients and an extensive database of approaches and improvement ideas for all types of smelters and refineries.

Operations and maintenance performance increased

Our consultants help identify and fix the weak points in maintenance workflow (initiation to execution) – both for shuts and operating periods - eliminating cost and reducing interruption to operations.We have proven expertise in focussing team resources on the priority Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) driving operational performance and relentlessly finding and removing obstacles to improvement.


  • Production rate increased 9%, high grade metal increased by 50% and current efficiency improved by 8% at a European copper refinery.
  • Production rate up 9% with a 50% reduction in excess metal given away at a precious metals refinery.
  • 30% increase in cast house throughput rate at a metal smelter.
  • Increased cash by US$19m p.a. by optimising what “feed goes to what smelter” across remote multiple mines and smelters.

Read more about our work in operations and maintenance performance management

Optimising feed supply and work-in-process inventories

Some feeds create huge work-in-process inventories – others can have your operation running like a dream. Some bring useful by-products, others build-up costly long-term liabilities and all result in different tonnages and revenues.Optimising the feed to your process may require data gathering and analysis that has not been done in your operation before. Ensuring this is done correctly requires the discipline to rigorously manage complex technical and commercial trade-offs to ensure your plant is running both smoothly as well as profitably. This effectively captures a lever of cash flow which may not be highly visible to your people. While this requires some effort, it has yielded tens of millions of dollars of annual value for our clients in a relatively short timeframe.


  • Optimisation of feed inputs at base metal smelter saved US$14m annually.
  • Debottlenecking and changing feed specification reduced working capital by 30% in a base metal smelter.
  • End-to-end feed management system in a base metals smelter and refinery released US$50m in working capital in the first year, and US$20m annually.

Reduction in procurement spend and improved contractor management

We help your teams identify and implement effective contractor management strategies tailored to your situation. Our expertise in procurement drives rapid savings through vendor consolidation, negotiation, usage reduction and controls, contract management, improved planning and approval processes.


  • Contractor spend fell 35% and conversion cost dropped 10% across three metal processing sites from a step change in planning and controls.
  • 8.5% reduction in procured spend for a multinational minerals miner and processor.

Read more about our work in supply chain and procurement

Capital Management

Our processes assist your team to remove cost from capital projects at the design stage and to optimise sustaining capital expenditures. And we improve construction productivity to keep projects on track or bring them back on track if they fall behind.


  • Net Present Value (NPV) for proposed copper smelter increased by US$1.1 billion through design optimisation, and operational changes.
  • Identified scaffolding as a major bottleneck for construction of a smelter, and improved installation rate by 68%, eliminating 92% of the backlog.

Read more about our work in capital management

I worked with Partners in Performance at a lead/zinc smelter where volume was increased by 34%, emissions reduced by 50%, and cost/T reduced by 28%. At the time, I was Maintenance Manager, and together our teams delivered a 58% reduction in downtime on the bottleneck in seven months, along with a 12% reduction in site-wide maintenance spend. Volumes out of the site increased by 25%, emissions reduced by 50% and overall costs came down by 28%. Not only did the work achieve great financial results in a sustainable manner, but it transferred extensive skills to the client through the approach of working closely with people, role-modelling behaviours and providing extensive coaching on the job. The Partners in Performance team was focused on what makes a difference, transferring an understanding of the key drivers of the business to our people. They combined intellectual rigour with coaching and wiring in strong but simple tools to build accountability and ownership.ANDREW, GROUP GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGY AND PLANNING, METALS INDUSTRY - SMELTING

Relevant case studies

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