Microsoft has announced a strategic partnership with Newcrest, which will see the mining company adopt Azure as its preferred cloud provider on a global basis, as well as work on digital twins and a sustainability data model.
The two companies are collaborating on programs of work including the use of digital twins to improve operational performance and a high-impact sustainability data model, Microsoft said.
As an industry-leading user of Microsoft technology, Newcrest has migrated all key workloads, including SAP, from private cloud to Azure. Microsoft 365 is deployed across the organisation, as is Teams and Power BI.
Two priority projects are underway, with the first being the creation of a full value chain digital twin at Newcrest’s Cadia operation in New South Wales, which captures operational data spanning the full breadth of the site. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Willow and site operational experts, the digital twin displays data from both information technology and operational technology through easy-to-digest 3D visualisations of the mining process, Microsoft explained. This allows operators and managers to make tactical and strategic decisions in real time to improve performance.
A scenario planning tool will eventually be integrated into the digital twin to enable testing of simulated actions against live data before making operational changes in the field. Together with data on other critical operational metrics, such as recovery and costs, this solution will evolve into a full productivity model for each mining site, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft and Versor are also working with Newcrest on a sustainability data model, with the first release due by June 2022. The model is designed to improve sustainability and streamline environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. It will also reduce the time it takes to produce annual sustainability reports. Newcrest will eventually integrate a 3D visualisation tool into the data model to better view end-to-end sustainability performance across the value chain.
Gavin Wood, Chief Information Officer at Newcrest, said these platforms create a scaffold for new digital solutions that will provide predictive and prescriptive insights to help the company optimise operations.
“When you think about how big and complex a mine site is, particularly in regard to the processing done on site, how much energy and water it consumes, the ability to use the full power of AI to provide actionable insights across the value chain is going to unlock so much value for us,” Wood said.
“This is key to our broader ambition to use technology as an opportunity to build on our successes in safety, sustainability and efficient mining.”
He added that having Microsoft as a strategic partner delivered an important advantage for Newcrest.
“I’m a big believer that when it comes to technology – and I’m talking about all technology, not just the IT world – complexity is the thing that kills you,” Wood said.
“It’s better to have simpler architectures and technology portfolios with fewer partners, where you have deeper partnerships and you work closely together, and benefit from the integration that comes with this approach.”
Newcrest’s strategic partnership with Microsoft has been forged with that in mind, Microsoft said.
Microsoft’s global cloud, Azure, now supports the company’s operations around the world. Newcrest is also exploring how it can use Microsoft’s Cloud for Sustainability, which is designed to record, report and reduce carbon emissions through actionable insights.
Brett Shoemaker, Director of Sustainability, Microsoft ANZ, said: “We are proud to work with Newcrest to harness the power of technology to build a more sustainable future, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and water, and driving change.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so data and AI are keys to success. If we can get insights to the right people at the right time, and use data and AI to automate responses where it makes sense, we can impact environmental sustainability. That’s at the heart of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.”
Working with Microsoft and Versor, and leveraging Azure and Power BI, Newcrest has already developed data models that are being used across production, safety, cost and people processes, and which will inform the sustainability data project.