Tag Archives: digital mine

Amira Industry 4.0 interoperability project highlights ‘digital mine’ opportunities

Independent global not for profit organisation, Amira, says its global members are set to reap significant benefits from the finalisation of the Industry 4.0 interoperability project P1208 undertaken in Perth, Western Australia.

The Interoperability Enablement for Natural Resources project concluded in November and was sponsored by miners South32, Fortescue Metals Group and Gold Fields Australia.

The Amira project, which was conducted at the University of Western Australia’s Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (UWA ERDi I4.0) TestLab, was designed to realise “the digital mine”, which requires mature interoperability standards to improve information flow.

The project ran multiple proofs-of-concept using interoperability standards (ISA-95/IEC 62264 and B2MML v7.0 (plus process centric event extensions)) that were originally developed to support the manufacturing industry.

These standards had benefited from many years of work (originally with contributions from BHP and continued by ETP and vendors such as RPMGlobal) in enhancing the standards to support mining requirements.

The resulting updated standards were used in P1208 as a means of exchanging information between common mining software packages from Datamine, ABB, AVEVA, RPMGlobal, Wenco and Manufacturing Intelligence. Each of these vendors played a critical part in the project’s success, according to Amira.

Managing Director at Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP) and the P1208 Project Lead, John Kirkman, said the project was highly successful, demonstrating manufacturing standards could be adapted and used across various mining methods and commodities.

“In terms of benefits, miners should first note ‘interoperability’ is simply a means to an end, with that end being optimal management of their operations,” Kirkman said.

“By enhancing the core specialist software packages used by geologists, mine planners, mine execution/control, materials tracking and maintenance personnel, etc to work together as if they were always engineered to do so, you are thereby implementing the cornerstone of automating and optimising the processes used to manage your mining operations.

“This is just one of the reasons why interoperability is one of only three core pillars of the Industry 4.0 vision as the idea of achieving highly automated and optimised operations without interoperability is simply not viable.

“Industry 4.0 also recognise ISA-95/IEC 62264 as the standard for supporting modular operations management interoperability, while also recognising OPC-UA as the standard for level 2 (machine/process control) interoperability.”

Benefits of Industry 4.0

Kirkman said Industry 4.0 solutions remove a significant amount of manual effort that are currently an accepted part of the mining process.

“This, in turn, increases data quality by eliminating manual entry errors and aligning semantics, improves timeliness of access to new information and enables users to spend more of their time on the quality of their work,” he said.

“This enables the automated capabilities of the software packages to be fully utilised and opens opportunities for the vendors to develop additional high value automated decision support capabilities within their software packages.”

During the course of the P1208 project, this was most clearly and broadly demonstrated via the materials inventory tracking/management software packages, which were able to automatically receive material movement events (from fleet management systems and fixed plant) and material sample analysis results events (from a Lab Information Management System) and update block and stockpile quantities and grade, then send the updated block and stockpile quantities and grade to a mine planning software packages and data warehouse, all without any user intervention.

“With respect to major successes, the fact that we have been able to demonstrate that standards exist that are able to be applied to mining software packages that can exchange information regardless of what commodity you are mining, by whatever mining method, using whatever equipment, whether you are an open pit or underground mine and also supporting multiple areas of the value chain (ie geology, drilling, blasting, mining, processing, railing, port and shipping) is significant,” Kirkman said.

“With P1208, we have successfully demonstrated that standards do exist and that they can be applied to mining with great success and that miners can now begin to include the application of interoperability in their improvement/transformation strategies and, as a result, maximise their return on investment from future technology projects.”

Interoperability in action

Kirkman said this was exciting news for mining companies looking to make technology investments that have a much higher likelihood of achieving a meaningful return on investment.

Project sponsor Gold Fields Australia took part in the AMIRA P1208 demonstrations sessions at the UWA ERDi I4.0 TestLab in Perth, Australia, recently, examining how interoperability in the mine plan, scheduling, execution, and materials and tracking functions can improve performance.

One of the sponsors said: “I don’t think many mining companies really appreciate the magnitude of the inefficiencies and lost opportunities that exist in a typical mine as a result of systems not working together; I think it’s almost just accepted as we have no other choice today.

“The Amira project has really shone a light on this area and demonstrated how interoperability can significantly improve the way of working across the business.

“To witness schedules being published from one vendor’s software and being received by multiple other vendors’ software, and the same again with actuals and inventory balance updates in real-time, is quite exciting and even more so when you consider that none of the vendors worked directly together; they just applied the standard interfaces to their software under the guidance of the ETP/ERDi team and it all works.”

The ETP team and various vendors involved in P1208 are already implementing these solutions into an open-pit and an underground mine further validating the work, with case studies likely to be produced through 2022.

The ERDi TestLab has noted a recent uptick in interest from both Australia-based and overseas mining companies, which bodes well for the vendors whom can now take advantage of their investment in interoperable solutions.

The ERDi team has already commenced work to extend these solutions across asset management and maintenance, fleet management/autonomous haulage solutions to machines and open process control interoperability via integration of OPAS-based solutions from the Coalition of Open Process Automation (COPA), who have together built the world’s first commercially available OPAS-based control system.

Project findings

Some of the key findings from the project include:

  • There were no instances of an information type required by the end customer or other systems not already catered for by the B2MML v7.0 + process centric events schemas;
  • All vendors were able to enhance their software to support the standards successfully;
  • Software performance would likely be the limiting factor in how much data could be exchanged, not the standard itself, which can be addressed by vendors through various approaches;
  • That being able to receive accurate, real-time information from other systems exposed opportunities for vendors to implement new and advanced features that would not have been useful in a manually updated solution;
  • Though the standard supported all requirements and was able to be implemented by vendors, a number of areas were identified in which the standard could be improved to make it much easier for vendors to implement, maintain and update over time as well ensure it is sufficiently explicit to certify products. ERDi has already kicked off work to address these improvement opportunities;
  • Education is likely the greatest barrier to adoption today. As these Industry 4.0 approaches and opportunities are not yet commonplace in the mining industry, miners will need to make an investment in upskilling their workforce to be able to successfully implement and take advantage of these solutions. Industry 4.0 education and workforce enablement has also been identified by platform I4.0 and the world economic forum as major factors in successful industry 4.0 adoption; and
  • It is possible to establish standards management and governance processes to enable more rapid and frequent update of standards.

Sandvik Technology Centre starts to unlock mine site productivity in southern Africa

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ newly launched technology centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, is, the company says, assisting the region’s mining industry on a journey into the digital future.

The Sandvik Technology Centre has already begun working with technology-focused customers in underground hard-rock mines locally to raise the productivity bar. According to Sandvik Technology Centre Manager, Hosea Molife, the facility’s key aim is to use digital technology to make mines safer and more productive.

“Our starting point was an OptiMine implementation for the monitoring and tracking of underground mobile equipment and customer support for a MySandvik project,” Molife says.

He explains that hardware is installed on the equipment, together with the software, to gather and transmit operational data, allowing mine management to view equipment location and productivity at any time. The data is automatically analysed giving the customer decision-making dashboards.

Ian Bagshaw, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Territory Manager, says the technologies employed by the company essentially ‘take the lid off’ the mine, revealing vital real-time information such as tonnes mined and holes drilled. The technology centre can make use of various Sandvik solutions to render the data useful to the customer. These include MySandvik for equipment monitoring using up-to-date information, OptiMine for integrating resources and optimising processes and AutoMine for automating mining activities.

Bagshaw highlighted that the Sandvik Technology Centre has been welcomed by technology-focused customers in the region.

“These customers are certainly leading the way globally in the platinum mining sector,” he says. “There is a strong safety element in the digital journey, as machine automation can help keep operators away from the workface and other potentially hazardous areas of the mine.”

There are already three projects underway at the technology centre, according to Molife. The MySandvik solution is being provided to 100 machines on one site, while OptiMine is being installed on a 76-unit fleet and AutoMine is initially being used to create a trucking loop for a single unit pilot project.

“The beauty of our facility is that it can be quickly ramped up as demand grows, allowing us to serve a growing customer base as mines see the practical value of applying digital technology,” Bagshaw says. There has been considerable interest expressed by the region’s mines to date, with potential projects for the technology Centre emerging in South Africa, Botswana and possibly further afield.

According to Bagshaw, applying Sandvik’s digital solutions is the beginning of a journey for mines, as they move away from paper-based and static data platforms.

“In addition to installing the hardware and software to generate real-time data for mines, we also work closely with customers on how best to utilise the reports,” he says. “Building these reports into their daily operations and real-time decision making will bring the productivity value add.”

Arvizio and Sight Power look to optimise the mining process with digital collaboration

Arvizio has announced a partnership with Sight Power that, they say, will see the two firms offer stakeholders a seamless integration of mining data, 3D models and LiDAR scans to be shared between Sight Power’s Digital Mine™ platform and Arvizio’s Immerse 3D augmented reality (AR) solution.

The combination provides the industry with a powerful, integrated suite of mining operations software and AR to optimise the mining process by reducing costs, improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and enhancing safety, the companies say.

“Digital transformation is a major trend across all aspects of mining and AR is emerging as a key component to incorporate and visualise mine planning data in the design, planning, operations, resource management and investor relations processes,” the companies said.

Digital Mine is a system for collecting and processing detailed information relating to all operations and work processes in the mining enterprise, according to Sight Power. This information, when merged with modelling, monitoring and distributed sensor systems, offers a cohesive solution to automate daily, routine operations for geologists, mining engineers, mine surveyors and other specialists resulting in increased labour productivity and reduction in technical errors, it said.

Arvizio’s Immerse 3D allows 3D models and LiDAR scans, used with Digital Mine, to be visualised in AR. The hybrid-rendering and advanced model optimisation capabilities of Immerse 3D can visualise LiDAR scans and geological models from mining operations that may cover many kilometres and include multiple layers.

“Further, Immerse 3D enhances the Sight Power Digital Mine platform by extending the capabilities of Digital Mine to include multi-user, multi-location AR visualisation and collaboration in fully synchronised sessions utilising web meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom,” the companies said.

Sergey Reznichenko, CEO at Sight Power, said: “Our work with leading mining companies using Digital Mine demonstrated that combine operational technology, monitoring systems, devices and spatial datasets into a single workflow system streamlines mining operations at every phase.

“We are delighted to team with Arvizio to integrate Immerse 3D AR visualisation into our workflows and use augmented reality to empower stakeholders around the world for a more efficient exchange of information, problem solving, verification of key operations and safety systems in their mining projects.”

The Immerse 3D platform extension enhances capabilities of Digital Mine technology using AR in these, and other, scenarios:

  • Supporting staff training and equipment repairs to reduce operational costs and downtime;
  • Extending digital twin capabilities for processing plants for real-time monitoring;
  • Real-time virtual presence at mining site; and
  • On-going evaluation of mine evolution models to identify issues and avoid costly overruns.

ABB tackles ‘open automation’ with UWA, ETP, AMIRA Global and Gold Fields

ABB says it has linked with the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) new Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (ERDi i4.0) TestLab, run by Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP), to advance Industry 4.0 open process automation standards.

This includes collaboration on AMIRA Global’s P1208 Interoperability Enablement for Natural Resources project, which is designed to realise the future digital mine. It aims to develop and implement interoperability standards for mine planning, mine scheduling and execution so equipment and applications for mine operations become ‘plug and play’. Building on the University of Western Australia I4.0 ERDi Test Lab (pictured), this initiative will enable an off-site test laboratory to evaluate efficacy of interoperability of technology without disrupting ongoing mining activities, according to ABB.

Separate to the AMIRA project, ABB is also working closely with ETP on an integrated systems project at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, 740 km northeast of Perth, Western Australia, one of the largest and highest producing gold operations in the country.

The project will enhance ABB Ability™ Operations Management System (OMS) Platform – Fleet Management Software Module to support the latest in reliable messaging and Industry 4.0 interoperability standards; ISA-95 (IEC 62264) via B2MML V7.0, ABB said. This advancement will enable the mine to connect and coordinate mine operators, workforce, equipment and all mining activities in real-time, from face preparation to crusher, according to the company.

“In 2019, we launched the Integrated Systems project to increase production throughput of the Granny Smith gold mine,” Michael Place, Technical Service Manager, Gold Fields Australia, said. “To achieve the objective of a fully-connected mine, we are working with ABB and ETP to build an integrated business process and system architecture that will enable visibility of operational activities in near real-time via automated information exchange between various mining systems.

“The system architecture has been designed to allow deployment across various operations, both open pit and underground. This deployment will be the major phase of the technology strategy for the Granny Smith mine and will be a pilot for integrated platforms across Gold Fields Australia, which aims to create one of the most innovative, digitally connected mines in the world. This project and agreement will be key to achieving this.”

ETP Managing Director, John Kirkman, said: “ABB’s investment, both in financial terms as well as time, together with their expertise, is critical for this project to support the re-engineering of products that are often required to deliver a reliable, performant and standards compliant software package.

“The performance requirements of a software package that exchanges and processes granular events with rich information in real-time, when compared to a software package designed for periodical manual entry, are like comparing chalk and cheese, and that’s where ABB plays a big role.”

Stuart Cowie, Head of Industrial Automation Process Industries, ABB Australia, added: “Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are huge opportunities for the Australian mining industry with automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence generating insights and accelerating greater productivity and efficiency.

“This underlines ABB’s commitment to ensuring Industry 4.0 concepts influence its product roadmaps into the future, and demonstrates the significant value that can be delivered to customers through interoperability and automation across both processes and systems. It will give ABB valuable insights into digital transformation and Industry 4.0 concepts for mining. Through our work with the ERDi TestLab, the OMS platform has become an even more powerful tool with reliable real-time access to operational data through ISA95 standardised messages.”

As part of POC 1, ABB will showcase ABB Ability Operations Management System and Fleet Management System software to AMIRA P1208 project sponsors, automatically exchanging information with scheduling and materials tracking software packages via i4.0 standard interfaces.

Matrix to bring Maestro’s Plexus PowerNet to US mining market

Matrix Design Group is to introduce Maestro Digital Mine’s Plexus PowerNet™ networking system to the US market following the signing of a distribution agreement between the two companies.

Plexus PowerNet, the first coaxial-based gigabit network, provides both data and power over a single cable, according to Canada-based Maestro. The system delivers a high-speed, low-latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ power to Access Points, cameras and any other IP-based devices, it says.

The Plexus PowerNet coaxial cable carries both power and network connectivity, eliminating the need to run both fibre and power to new network devices. The system can also extend a fibre-optic-based system from the fibre patch panel at any level as needed. Plexus PowerNet eliminates the need for costly outside fibre-optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any mine personnel, Maestro says.

Chris Adkins, Sales/Business Development, Matrix Design Group, said: “For a mining application, Maestro gives mines the ability to have high-speed data and power without the technical and time constraints of running a fibre network to the face of the mine. Of course, the maintenance requirements of fibre are complex, but Maestro has reinvented the high-speed data network, allowing delivery of real-time data and power combined into one durable coaxial cable that’s easy to install, maintain and repair.”

The Plexus PowerNet is a backbone network system that can be used in mines with or without a fibre-optic network, Maestro says.

“Supporting existing underground infrastructure, Plexus provides network connectivity to new and existing IIoT devices and automation technologies,” the company said. “It enables the digital mine and connected worker for: autonomous and tele-remote vehicles; telemetry to drills, loaders and support equipment; support for short interval control and connectivity to tablet and smart devices; IoT sensors, such as environmental and seismicity; Voice over IP; augmented reality; asset tracking; PoE+ based IP cameras and PoE+ LED lights for paste fill; and PLC connectivity. Plexus is an enabling technology for the digital mine.”

Michael Gribbons, Co-founder and CEO, Maestro Digital Mine, stated: “The collaboration with Matrix Design Group is an essential part of expanding our reach into the US market with a team that understands the value of our digital network solution and how it aligns with the mines in the area. Bringing digital solutions, such as the Plexus PowerNet, online enables worker safety, increased production and reduced costs; all of which are vital to Maestro and Matrix.”

Retenua’s RefleX machine vision tech set to go underground in EU-backed project

An EU-backed project looking to tap into the full potential of the ‘digital mine’ goes live this month, with Retenua’s AI-driven RefleX™ machine vision technology set to be further optimised, adapted and tested as part of the scope.

The illuMINEation project under the European Union-backed Horizon 2020 has a budget of €8.9 million ($10.5 million) and is looking to embed digital thinking into the heart of the mining sector by improving digital skills of mining personnel and enhancing the cooperation along the entire digital mining value chain, according to Retenua.

“Europe urgently needs to reduce its import dependency in respect to a multitude of raw materials,” it said. “In order to do so, Europe’s mining industry must completely redesign the process of traditional mining via the adoption of pioneering innovations and extensive use of data analytics.”

The illuMINEation project will highlight significant aspects of digitalisation in underground mining activities with the core objective of improving the efficiency as well as health and safety of European mining operations and its personnel, Retenua said, with RefleX set to be one technology to undergo testing.

In the scope of IlluMINEation research project, RefleX will be employed in demanding underground mining environments. The core technology of Retenua’s product line emitrace®, RefleX includes both embedded infrared stereo vision hardware and smart algorithms for detecting and tracking workers and equipment from mobile heavy machinery.

The ability to reliably detect worksite personnel and selected infrastructure in the vicinity of vehicles not only in good daylight conditions but also in poorly illuminated environments makes Retenua’s solution highly suitable for use both above and below ground, the company says.

The technology evaluation and customisation will be primarily carried out in collaboration with project partner Epiroc Rock Drills AB and represent an important step towards improved safety standards in mining operations, Retenua said.

The multidisciplinary project consortium within illuMINEation consists of 19 partners from six European countries, constituting a well-balanced assembly of world leading industrial and academic players from a multitude of technical fields and applications, it added.

This includes Montanuniversitaet Leoben, Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft MBH, Epiroc Rock Drills AB, ams AG, KGHM Cuprum sp zoo, DMT GmbH & CO KG, GEOTEKO Serwis Sp zoo, Lulea Tekniska University, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, KGHM Polska Miedz SA, Minera de Orgiva SL, RHI Magnesita GmbH, DSI Underground Austria GmbH, Retenua AB, IMA Engineering Ltd Oy, Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Worldsensing SL, Instytut Chemii Bioorganiczney Polskiej Akademii Nauk and Boliden Mineral AB.

Mining the energy transition and digital transformation opportunities

The mining industry is often associated with massive pits either excavated into the ground or underneath the surface, writes Andrew Berryman, President – Mining, Minerals and Metals Services, Worley.

Concern about the environmental impact of extracting minerals has existed for some time and shows no sign of abating. Despite big strides in technology, according to the World Bank, over 11% of global energy consumption comes from the mining, minerals and metals value chain. Changing this demands a serious rethink of the way minerals and metals are processed and mined.

But the challenges do not end there. The scrutiny on mining is as broad as it is concentrated, picking apart everything from corporate stewardship to the commodity mix. Shareholders are demanding better returns on less capital with a smaller environmental footprint.

The winds of change have hit mining, but blustery conditions are not always a bad thing.

The energy transition

The temptation is to jump straight to the conclusion that the energy transition is an existential threat to an emissions-intensive industry. After all, meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement depends on retiring carbon-intensive activities, doesn’t it?

It does, however, impact the movement towards low emissions technologies, such as battery storage, electrification, microgrids, wind and solar power, the mining industry is required to provide the materials needed for this shift.

As we head down the electrification and energy storage path, a different mineral mix will be required.

Many minerals will be needed for applications in the energy transition that we cannot even foresee yet.

The minerals of the low emissions future include lithium, cobalt, iron ore, manganese, aluminium, nickel, lead and graphite. But the single most important mineral that will enable electrification and electron mobility is copper. This element is critical in low emission and electric vehicles, energy transmission and storage and renewable energy technologies that harness the sun and the wind.

So, we know which minerals we need. How do we access and process them responsibly?

Understanding that mining underpins the fate of the planet, we need to consider less energy intensive ways of extracting and processing these minerals. We also need to power the process with energy that comes from renewable sources.

Our customers have growing demand for our new energy expertise to establish affordable, reliable power to these mine sites with technology at the forefront of the power sector. Technology is the biggest enabler to make the energy transition a commercially viable pathway. It is also a key ingredient to developing remote regional areas that are adjacent to mining provinces.

Throw in the digital transformation

It is offering opportunities for the progressive thinkers and grey hairs for the hesitant. Like the energy transition, digital transformation will enable some companies to evolve into mining behemoths and others to inadvertently plot their own downfall through inaction.

In spite of positive statements about digital, investment hasn’t always backed up the excitement. It is the adage of: you don’t know what you don’t know. Plus, while it pays off in the long term, innovation is time-consuming and requires change, so quantifying investment cost is hard, and returns are slow.

The industry needs to see technology as the glue that joins all elements of the physical entity, the data, knowledge components and the people who envision, create, build, test and operate the facility. There is no other glue that can stick these things together and being integrated and working together is essential for success.

Technology is already at the stage where we can tap into a virtual world and use digital twinning to build and view an end result. New parts or facilities can be incorporated into the existing world to view, test and optimise the blend of components, as well as the processes and systems used to create and operate the facility. All this can be envisaged before even committing to the development of a project.

This technology can help the industry make better investment and operating decisions and improve process controls prior to Final Investment Decision (FID). This also means the probable outcomes of embracing technology, and predicting a balanced, safe, net-zero future, can be debated as part of the FID.

Once a facility is up and running, technology also enables you to monitor its operation, make informed decisions with real-time data and allow many tasks to be performed directly by the control system, improving its own performance over time with machine learning. The assessment speed and response time helps you to keep on track, adjust performance outputs and avoid failures, all of which can contribute to a safer, cleaner and greener outcome. But it needs to be incorporated in the design phase, requiring substantial collaboration with the end user.

When the two biggest forces collide

Where there is uncertainty, there is opportunity. Then multiply that as many times as you like, because when the energy transition and digital transformation are considered in the same breath, they will turn mining on its head.

The energy transition cannot happen at the speed we need it to unless we embrace better technologies to design and run mines. At the same time, the need to improve overall sustainability and the social licence to operate remains paramount.

These technologies can assist mining companies to assess, track, collate and present the complex mix of elements that contribute to any sort of environmental or energy goal. Knowing what you have achieved is almost as powerful as achieving it. In a world where knowledge is king, a data-centric solution is key to making the right decisions towards achieving a net-zero impact.

If we can use technology to better analyse orebodies with greater accuracy, it is going to minimise the removal, transport or processing of unusable or low-grade ore, which in turn provides consistency of grade for processing. That means we can run fewer diesel trucks and consistently improve the grade of what we are supplying to the market, resulting in energy savings, potential process improvements and the overall reduction of the carbon footprint.

The opportunities for technological advances in a mining setting are endless. We can now use virtual reality for site training, 3D printing for spare parts manufacturing, predictive analytics platforms to manage safety and conduct aerial inspections of mine sites using drones. These are just some examples of digital mining processes enabling us to optimise mine operations.

This equates to increased safety, productivity and less carbon emissions, and assists the sector to do its bit in reaching the targets of the Paris Agreement and decarbonise the mining process.

Technology is the single biggest enabler of any kind of future that embraces the energy transition.

Mining techniques need to go through a revolution very quickly, but it is heartening to see the early stages of that today. We may look back at what we are doing now as baby steps, but right now, they are quantum leaps.

Indaba to home in on mining’s digital economy

The 26th edition of the Investing in African Mining Indaba is to focus on investment in the digital economy of mining, according to the conference’s new Head of Content.

Tom Quinn says the event, run over four days starting from February 3, will build on the success of the 2019 Mining Indaba in terms of the high level of government participation and the substantial increase in the number of investors seen at the event.

Quinn highlighted new additions to the program:

  • General Counsel Forum: This forum will bring together general counsels, in-house legal teams and established law-firms to debate and share knowledge on Africa’s complex resources sector. “It’ll focus on how companies can navigate the opportunities and challenges in the sector by strengthening portfolio management, examining falling productivity against increasing costs and M&A market updates,” he said. The forum will take place on February 6, in partnership with Africa Legal;
  • An extended Mining 2050 program: the impact of technology on the future of mining operations will now be discussed over two days (as opposed to one in 2019) under the theme ‘Optimising growth in the fourth industrial revolution’. Key topics include green and sustainable technology, waterless mines, artificial intelligence, robotics and job creation, using blockchain technology for sustainability, and mitigating digital risk;
  • Resource nationalism and investor risk is a main stage topic where sector leaders will be analysing and assessing exposure in current Africa markets and possible strategies to mitigate risk; and
  • Climate change and the industry’s role in decarbonisation is a frontline issue for investors and the topic will be discussed during main stage sessions and the dedicated sustainable development day.

The event will take place at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa, and International Mining is a media sponsor.

MICROMINE’s Whitehouse to explore machine learning in exploration at APCOM 2019

MICROMINE says machine learning has the potential to transform mineral exploration, and the company’s Ian Whitehouse intends to discuss just how at the upcoming APCOM 2019 conference, in Poland.

More than 500 delegates from across the globe are expected to travel to Wroclaw, in June, to discover the latest developments in the application of technology in the mineral industry at the 39th Application of Computers and Operations Research in the Mineral Industry (APCOM) conference.

Whitehouse, MICROMINE’s Geobank Product Strategy Manager, will be a keynote speaker at the symposium, which has the theme “Mining Goes Digital”.

Whitehouse said the application of machine learning to the process of collecting and analysing geological data in mineral exploration has the “potential to transform the way explorers operate”. He will delve into just how during his “Transforming Exploration Data Through Machine Learning” presentation on June 6.

“By adding machine learning to the process of collecting and analysing geological data, we vastly reduce the time a geologist spends doing administration work, enabling more time to concentrate on the quality and analysis of the data collected,” he said.

“This type of offering creates opportunity to lower exploration costs and increase the amount of data that can be collected, which are key drivers of the mining industry and will contribute to more exploration projects being approved.”

The traditional process of plan – drill – observe – measure – analyse, can be inefficient, and the application of technology and machine learning can address common issues such as inconsistent data collection and categorisation, Whitehouse said.

“In the exploration industry it is very common to find that one geologist has classified a rock and the next has classified it as something different. This has huge complications when trying to model the data. However, machine-learning algorithms can be used to fix these inconsistencies and errors in the databases prior to the resource geologist working with the data.”

Machine learning can be tapped by the resources industry to streamline geological processes, such as cleansing and validating data prior to starting the modelling process, according to MICROMINE.

Whitehouse said high quality DSLR cameras can provide a tool for exploration companies to collect high-quality imagery of core and chip trays, with machine-learning algorithms able to recognise features in the images.

“It is feasible for this data to be automatically collected and stored in a database,” he said.

To illustrate the power of machine learning, MICROMINE has built an algorithm to determine and map the spatial extents of core imagery in a core tray photo. The application of this technology will result in the reduction of man-hours required to manually review and analyse core tray photography, the company said.

MICROMINE is incorporating machine learning into its solutions, with the results of the research project leading to the functionality being incorporated into the Geobank data management solution, enabling core tray images to be transferred into the database and displayed in Geobank drill-hole trace along with other downhole data, the company said.

MICROMINE’s presentation is part of APCOM’s technical program, which is presented within six streams: Geostatistics and Resource Estimation; Mine Planning; Scheduling and Dispatch; Mine Operation in Digital Transformation; Emerging Technologies and Robotics in Mining; and Synergies from Other Industries.

Whitehouse will be joined by around 100 international presenters from science and industry at the three-day APCOM conference (June 4-6).

You can read more about the event here.

International Mining is a media partner for APCOM 2019.

Dassault and BHP to partner on digital mine developments

Dassault Systèmes says it and BHP have engaged in a long-term strategic partnership to leverage the application of digital technologies in mining.

“Combining the experience and resources of each company, the ambition is to unlock value by applying technologies proven in other industries to the core mining fundamentals of geoscience and resource engineering,” Dassault said. “The partnership intends to create a new level of understanding of resource and operational potential, underpinned by both companies’ commitment to safety and sustainability.”

Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO, Dassault Systèmes, said: “BHP and Dassault Systèmes share the same vision and ambition for the mining of the 21st century. By digitalising all operations from planning to exploitation, our 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides the full ‘digital twin experience’ of the end to end processes; a unique collaborative innovation environment for holistic optimisation.

“This transformational approach provides market agility, improved predictability, sustainable mining innovation, and significant cost reduction all along the life cycle; a proven track record that has transformed the manufacturing industry to date.”