This month’s Spotlight Feature Article on mining software delves into the possibilities of creating a continuous and automated feedback loop to optimise mining operations, as well as the latest solutions looking to tackle the industry’s challenges. Within this we hear from acQuire’s CEO, Alison Atkins, on how the company is providing strategic software so when the right information is available to the right people, businesses can make confident decisions around certain ESG issues.
acQuire Technology Solutions says it has completed the acquisition of MTS, a South Africa-based company that specialises in people-centred technology and advisory services to help resource companies meet obligations that cover their social licence to operate.
Insite becomes the third product in acQuire’s suite of information management tools for the natural resources industries. The software-as-a-service solution enables users to streamline collection, validation and management of social sustainability data, according to acQuire. Insite’s reporting capabilities on social performance are as reliable as the reporting from accounting systems.
Alison Atkins, acQuire’s CEO, welcomed the acquisition of MTS as part of a broader growth strategy for the company.
“MTS is an excellent fit for us and our purpose of solving data management challenges with robust software solutions,” she said. “We look forward to growing its excellent product and reputation under our ownership.”
This latest acquisition sees acQuire expand further into ESG management, which has become one of the most important topics in the global natural resources industry. Companies are under scrutiny to meet ESG obligations and are increasingly held to account by regulators, investors and the public.
Being able to measure and track progress helps companies manage their efforts toward social sustainability and sustainable development, acQuire says. Insite gives them a way to prove the impact they are having on the communities where they operate, both positive and negative. It allows for full and transparent reporting to all stakeholders including employees, clients and suppliers, the company added.
“Our success as a global provider of information management solutions, plus being backed by Vela Software, means we can leverage shared services, expertise and partnerships to extend the Insite product into new areas,” Atkins said.
“We see fresh opportunities to deliver social performance technology to more companies across Africa so businesses can future-proof their operations by harnessing the growth potential of their communities, workplaces and supply chains, and make data-led decisions.”
Insite manages and optimises regulatory compliance requirements and processes relating to the implementation and reporting of Social and Labour Plans, Mining Charters, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment program, Employment Equity and Annual Training Reports for Workplace Skills Plans, mainly for mining companies in South Africa.
Maritha Erasmus, CEO and Founder of MTS, believes the acquisition by acQuire will provide greater opportunities to advance socio-economic inclusion. Both she and Phil Marneweck, CTO and co-founder of MTS, are eager to join the acQuire team.
“A delicate balance is required to create positive and sustainable social impact while mitigating business and environmental risks,” Erasmus said.
“The acquisition by acQuire is a chance to join a like-minded, values-based company. We look forward to expanding on the important work we started at MTS and the social impact we can make using technology.”
acQuire has been operating in Europe, the Middle East and Africa through its South African office since 2008. The MTS addition provides an extra decade of mining industry experience for the region to that office, it said.
acQuire says it has been working behind the scenes to unveil a fresh new look for its environmental data management solution, EnviroSys, with the new logo aligning the software with the acQuire brand and representing a renewed focus on simplicity and elegance.
It’s more than just a lick of paint, according to the company, with acQuire having spruced, tidied up and restyled the solution. It will also be adding some improvements to the environmental data management software in an upcoming release.
Stuart van de Water, acQuire’s Environmental Leader, is excited to see the improvements launch with the next software release, EnviroSys 9.
“The new look EnviroSys reflects our aim to ensure our environmental data management capability goes from strength to strength,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure EnviroSys continues to be one of the best environmental data management systems on the market.”
The next version of EnviroSys is due in April 2022 and is the culmination of EnviroSys team’s efforts to improve the software, including:
- Unifying the user experience for one consistent way to access EnviroSys;
- Enhancing the visibility of data feeds and improving data loading so you have quicker access to environmental compliance data for your downstream processes;
- Updating the user interface with a fresh new look and easier navigation;
- Streamlining and standardising user security with an industry-standard, cloud-based licence management platform; and
- Enhancing the learning and support ecosystem, with a redeveloped help system and knowledge base
acQuire’s EnviroSys software is focused on quality and compliance. It allows customers to store, manage and access any type of environmental data, whether it’s collected from a lab or logger, out in the field or in the office. EnviroSys, the company says, provides complete transparency and ensures you can always answer the question: “Are we compliant right now?”
acQuire Technology Solutions has added an environmental and monitoring solution to its existing product suite with the acquisition of EnviroSys from SRA Information Technology Pty Ltd.
EnviroSys is an environmental compliance management and monitoring software product used by mining, government, water and energy companies. It is a flexible, comprehensive and accessible product enabling customers to capture, analyse and produce compliant reports on their projects, according to acQuire. The software solution is used mostly in Australia.
EnviroSys is highly complementary to acQuire’s flagship product, GIM Suite, and strengthens acQuire’s competitive edge and position as an industry leader in geoscientific information management solutions for the natural resources industry, the company said.
SRA CEO, Steve Rowe, said: “With EnviroSys’ growing success and continually improving product, it was important for EnviroSys to find a new partner to maximise its growth potential, not only in Australia but globally. We see further opportunities for both companies and will partner on future opportunities and projects.”
acQuire CEO, Alison Atkins, said: “Our success as a global provider of geoscientific information management solutions, plus being backed by Vela Software, means we can leverage shared services, expertise, and partnerships to extend the EnviroSys product into new areas. We see fresh opportunities to deliver the EnviroSys technology to more companies across the globe and create a connected product suite to benefit our existing and future customers.”
Kinross Gold has collaborated with acQuire on the development of a new mobile data capture solution for its GIM Suite 4.2 release.
The gold miner was looking for a mobile solution for blasthole sampling it can trust and, as a long-time GIM Suite user, it welcomed the opportunity to work with acQuire on this new development, acQuire said.
“It meant Kinross Gold could provide direct feedback on how the acQuire Arena mobile app was enhanced for blasthole sampling for open-pit grade control,” the company said.
For acQuire, meanwhile, the collaboration resulted in an industry-specific solution geared towards the data challenges experienced in every day mining.
A team from Kinross’ Round Mountain open-pit grade control operations, in Nevada, USA, participated in the project. This team consisted of key stakeholders involved in the site’s data systems. The team not only provided input into requirements but also engaged in the beta testing phase of GIM Suite 4.2 and the Arena mobile app to ensure the solution worked for grade control requirements, acQuire said.
Ian Dickie, Senior Geologist at Kinross Gold, said: “Working with acQuire offered a unique chance to provide feedback directly to acQuire developers regarding the design of this application.
“This created an opportunity for Kinross to provide insight into real-world requirements for both the application design and the user experience.”
Steve Mundell, acQuire’s Director of Product, said having a collaborator like Kinross Gold provided guidance from an industry perspective during the product development phase.
“We took their needs into consideration along with all the other knowledge we have gathered around the problem of sampling open-pit blastholes,” he said. “Having a real-life application of the Arena mobile app as part of our testing showed us firsthand what worked well and where we needed to refine the software.”
Challenge: data capture for open-pit grade control
The Kinross Gold team wanted to move to a better way of working when capturing blasthole samples. It currently logs on paper, a method deemed inefficient and prone to error, acQuire said.
The goal was to find a digital solution to speed up the time it takes data logged in the pit to become available to downstream grade control processes like modelling and ore blocking.
To achieve the broader goal, Kinross was interested in several capabilities:
- Ability to work offline because connectivity in the pit is unreliable;
- Reduction of inadvertent errors caused by transcribing handwritten data logs;
- A way to reduce the lag between users logging data in the pit and capturing the data in GIM Suite; and
- Speedier availability of blasthole sampling data for downstream modelling and decision making.
acQuire said: “acQuire’s GIM Suite 4.2 was designed to create a seamless interface for grade control so pit samplers could work faster and more accurately. The Round Mountain project provided a real-world application for beta testing and helped improve the overall user experience in the updated Arena mobile app.”
The collection of blasthole assay data is imperative for grade control modelling and creating ore cuts, according to Dickie. “It is the crux of ore handling procedures.”
He added: “We cannot always rely on network access in the field, so the online/offline data entry creates a more robust mechanism to collect information, which regularly determines the economic viability of an ore block.”
Solution: extend capability to include blasthole sampling
Enhancements to acQuire’s Arena mobile app were instrumental in creating a seamless digital experience in the GIM Suite 4.2 release, according to acQuire.
The following new and improved capabilities were put through their paces by the Kinross Gold project team to ensure suitability in a production environment:
- Working offline in the pit with seamless synchronisation back to the server once network connectivity is established again. This includes the ability to define which specific pits, benches and blast patterns the pit worker would like to take offline with them;
- A map of the blast pattern within the logging interface so the pit worker can see which holes have been logged and select their next hole to log as they walk along the pattern;
- Responsive layouts to optimise the screen for a range of different device types and orientations. This provided the ability for views like a landscape tablet layout, with the blasthole map always displayed; and
- Built-in barcode scanning for entering sample IDs, using the device’s camera to ensure accuracy and speed during data capture.
Results: user-friendly blasthole sampling in open-pit mining
Reviewing and providing feedback on the new Arena mobile app proved to be incredibly useful to the Kinross Gold team to ensure it is fit for the rigours of open-pit mining, acQuire said.
“The interface design has a very user-friendly functionality which allows users to select blastholes quickly and enter sample data efficiently,” Dickie said.
“This creates a smooth workflow in the field, and a more pleasant experience for users. The ability to take data on/offline is very smooth with this new application, which in my opinion strongly mitigates the risk of data loss as well as saves labour, when compared with previous offline data entry processes.”
Mundell added: “It’s exciting to see our product enhancements come to life in a real-life application. Kinross Gold was excellent to work with and provided a lot of thoughtful feedback that helped improve the user experience.
“We’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Kinross Gold in future releases of GIM Suite.”
Global software company acQuire has introduced mobile blasthole sampling in its latest release of GIM Suite 4.2.
The update extends acQuire’s mobile app to include mobile data capture for blasthole sampling in open-pit mines, it said.
acQuire explained: “The app, called acQuire Arena, gives miners a better way of working when capturing blasthole samples. Samplers and pit technicians can position themselves on the blast pattern, capture samples on simple, user-friendly forms and instantly validate their data at the point of capture.”
This speeds up the time it takes data logged in the pit to become available to downstream grade control processes like modelling and ore blocking, according to the company.
“In the current global climate, where many are affected by COVID-19 restrictions through either reduced or paused operations, it’s becoming crucial for miners to use new technology solutions to their advantage,” acQuire said.
Steve Mundell, Director of Product, said enhancements to the acQuire Arena app extended its data capture capabilities for grade control so pit samplers could work faster and more accurately.
“Miners who are still logging on paper, or using more manual methods of data collection, now have a reliable and modern mobile solution that works in the pit and seamlessly synchronises data back to the central database,” he said.
The acQuire Arena app is purpose-built for GIM (Geoscientific Information Management) Suite, with full integration across desktop, web and mobile, according to the company. “Its modern, user experience designed interface dynamically changes across different device sizes and it is optimised for Android and iOS operating systems, giving geologists more freedom to choose the device they prefer to use,” it said.
The GIM Suite 4.2 software release marks a significant step on acQuire’s technology roadmap, it said. “With greater functionality added across web and mobile, customers will continue to benefit from more and more features introduced in the future,” the company added.
acQuire says it provides geoscience data management software and services for the global mining industry with five offices worldwide and customer support centres operating in each major time zone.