Tag Archives: cloud computing

IMDEX evaluates the mining industry’s emerging trends

IMDEX says its global footprint in key mining regions throughout the world gives it an important glimpse of the some of the emerging trends and challenges facing the sector, trends that were taking shape prior to the onset of COVID-19.

Leveraging technology, or, more specifically, the cloud, is one development the Australia-based company has noted in recent years.

“The global minerals industry has turned to technology to improve safety, enhance efficiencies and reduce the cost of exploration and extraction,” it said.

When people think about innovation, most minds turn to autonomous haulage or remote operations, but there is an enabler to this innovation, according to IMDEX: the cloud.

Companies, not least of which those in the mining services and resources sector, are utilising cloud platforms to store data remotely and retrieve it via the internet. Remote mining operations using an array of software, sensors and communications are becoming routine because of these systems, IMDEX says.

But the cloud also provides the opportunity to improve productivity.

IMDEX General Manager, Product Development, Dr Michelle Carey, said clients were increasingly wanting to use the cloud because it enabled them to get data faster and in real time.

“We refer to it as the single source of truth,” Dr Carey said. “Accurate, reliable data delivered in real time that can be seen simultaneously by many people, which then enables real-time decision making.

“It also means there are no issues about the chain of custody. Using the cloud gives clients the confidence that no-one has tampered with the data so they can make decisions based on data they trust.”

Business’ enormous appetite for the collection and storage of data is making these platforms increasingly popular, according to IMDEX. A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable that companies would be sharing computing and IT resources over the internet. “Today the cloud is a business imperative,” it said.

The resources sector, once satisfied its concerns regarding access and data security were met, have been quick to capitalise on cloud computing.

Cloud computing of course does have its downside (similar to any technology). To work properly, cloud systems require reliable internet access. That is increasingly becoming essential on even the most remote mine sites.

EY’s September 2019 poll of mining executives indicated that ensuring digital (and data) effectiveness continues to rank within the top risks for their respective organisations. EY also noted further that cloud-related investment will account for the largest share of technology spend (over the next two years) in more than 50% of companies.

IMDEX has been in the cloud for over 10 years and is renowned for its real-time, subsurface intelligence solutions with numerous sensors on the drill site, at the core farm and increasingly on the bench collecting high-quality data, it said.

These technologies can be connected to IMDEXHUB-IQ™ – a cloud-based web portal that collects, stores and provides critical operational data. This data is protected through a validated chain of custody and a secure database, accessible from any internet connection to smart phone, tablet or PC, according to IMDEX.

Social licence to operate

According to IMDEX, the notion of licence to operate is evolving, with society expecting more from organisations.

“Once, companies in the minerals and resources sector focused primarily on ensuring compliant operations,” IMDEX said. “Today, compliance is just ‘step-one’… the minimum standard.”

The company added: “External stakeholders are scrutinising companies more than ever; how an organisation is managing environmental responsibilities and the health and safety of their workforce. They are insisting on local content and strong community investment; ensuring there’s support for local indigenous communities and that a company is committed to addressing climate change.”

The effective management of these requirements ensures the community will have confidence in an organisation, granting their social licence because they trust the company.

Earning trust and confidence is seeing a shift in how organisations structure the management of community stakeholders, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX said it will include additional economic, environmental and social impacts of its activities in its 2020 annual report, with the aim of preparing a sustainability report in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative standards within three years.

Dr Carey said IMDEX already had a suite of products and services that supported the sustainable operation of mining industry stakeholders.

“Our technologies improve productivity by providing information that affects decisions throughout the life of the mine, but they also have sustainability and environmental benefits,” Dr Carey said.

“The technologies enable clients to understand material properties accurately at a finer scale, and in real-time, enabling them to mine with less waste and process ore more effectively.

“Improved precision in exploration, drilling programs and mining means a reduction in waste. Things like our Solids Removal Units and BOS tool means reducing the use of water during the drilling and the size of the footprint disturbed during drilling.”

Suncor to move towards cloud-based computing with Microsoft Azure

Suncor has announced a multi-year strategic alliance with Microsoft Canada as a part of the company’s effort to further accelerate its digital transformation journey.

The oil sands miner has selected Microsoft as its “strategic cloud provider”, tapping into the full range of Microsoft’s cloud solutions to empower a connected and collaborative workforce, upgrade data centres, and increase analytics capabilities, it said.

Suncor will also collaborate with Microsoft on innovation projects, drawing on expertise and opportunities from both organisations.

Mark Little, Suncor President and CEO, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Microsoft because they’re a global leader in the digital technology space, and they will bring value and insights into global innovation best practices.

“This is an example of how we are driving to improve our business in ways that were not possible before – to make our people safer, increase reliability and productivity, reduce costs and improve sustainability.”

In this multi-year strategic alliance, Suncor will take advantage of Microsoft’s full range of cloud solutions and will move towards cloud-based computing with Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform. The move to Azure is expected to enable the rapid deployment of new technologies to improve safety and productivity through artificial intelligence, machine learning, enhanced automation, and industrial internet of things and visualisation, according to Suncor.

“Although we are an industry leader in many respects, we still have much to learn in the digital space, which is why we’re working with a number of organisations including Microsoft to challenge us,” Little said. “Similar to how we partner with and learn from innovators across our physical value chain, we’re choosing to partner with the experts in digital innovation.”

The company said: “Collaborating on innovation will include Microsoft resources embedded at the core of innovation teams, working together to explore a wide range of business capabilities. Additionally, value will come from accessing the Microsoft innovation ecosystem and real-world lessons from a curated community of global peers.”

Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, said Suncor was embarking on a journey to transform the energy industry, and his company could help Suncor achieve its goals.

“They are creating new business value for their customers, empowering and upskilling their workforce, and innovating for a sustainable future,” he said. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and we look forward to helping Suncor accelerate their digital transformation with Azure, Dynamics 365, Surface and Microsoft 365.”

Through this strategic alliance with Microsoft, Suncor expects to better improve the employee and customer experiences across its business, from front line workers in industrial settings, to gas station attendants at Petro-Canada gas and EV stations, to office workers across Suncor, it said. Digital technologies will be a means to draw superior insights from data and will open new ways to drive improved economic, social and environmental performance.

Suncor’s oil sands mining projects, located in the Athabasca region of Canada, are projected to produce a reliable, long-term energy supply while leveraging technology to minimise environmental and social impacts of resource development, it says. Located near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, the assets include the Millennium and North Steepbank sites as well as the Suncor-operated Fort Hills mine. Suncor also has a 58.74% interest in the Syncrude joint venture and a 100% interest in the Voyageur South mining lease. Suncor holds a 36.75% interest in a joint venture partnership with Total to develop the Joslyn oil sands mining project.