Tag Archives: Michelle Ash

Michelle Ash to become CEO of Dassault’s GEOVIA division

Dassault Systèmes says it has appointed Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) Chair, Michelle Ash, as CEO of its GEOVIA software division.

Ash will help shape strategy to build growth across the company’s Natural Resources sector, as well as deliver next-generation solutions based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which integrates all the technologies and capabilities that leverage knowledge and know-how into one “cohesive digital innovation environment”, according to Dassault.

Ash, who has been chair of GMG since May 2018, was previously Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick Gold. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the mining and manufacturing sectors with a focus on business improvement and change management.

It is not clear if she will continue her role with GMG following this appointment.

GEOVIA, meanwhile, became part of Dassault back in 2012 when the France-based company acquired geological modelling and simulation company Gemcom Software International. Dassault renamed the division GEOVIA shortly after the deal was completed.

The mining industry’s guiding hand

Ahead of the WA Mining Conference & Exhibition, in Perth, Western Australia, IM spoke with Michelle Ash, Chair of the Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), on mining guidelines, the industry’s rate of technology adoption, automation and, of course, interoperability.

Given that Ash is due to sit on a panel discussion titled, ‘The future generation of mining – who, what, when and where’ at the event on October 15, the conversation was very much forward looking.

IM: The development of mining guidelines has been a big focus for you in your work with GMG. Outside of the existing working groups GMG already has in place, where, in the next three to five years, do you see the need for future industry guidelines to ensure mining companies and their employees can leverage new technology?

MA: Our mission at GMG is to work collaboratively with industry and help speed up its rates of change. The guidelines are one of our main products, but we are involved in two others.
One is education where we bring the mining industry (mining companies, suppliers, consultants, academics/academic institutions, regulators and governments) together on topics. Blockchain is a good example of that; we’ve had our members raising the use of blockchain as an issue for the last couple of years – some have not known what the use cases might look like or even the full capabilities of the technology.

An example of the second product is what we have recently carried out in the tailings dam space…where we initially looked at who was doing what in the public arena worldwide. From this, we created a database of that activity with the intention that our members should, first, engage with work that is already being conducted. We are now trying to think through how we codify that data. In this regard, part of the way we will speed up innovation in the mining industry is not only through collaboration, but also making sure we leverage industry work that has already been completed.

Then on the guidelines, we have covered battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), automation and communications systems. We’re currently going through the process of devising a guideline on interoperability and functional safety, too. In the next few months, we will start working with our members to define what ones to pursue from 2020 onwards.

IM: What might these future guidelines look like?

MA: At our leadership summit this year, we will be talking about climate change and how that is going to impact the mining industry. Thinking about the workforce of the future is another potential avenue for future guidelines. That is on top of some of the more futuristic topics like blockchain provenance tracking, changes to business models, etc.

IM: What is likely to push most mining companies into increasing their uptake of new and disruptive technology? Will operational, regulatory, social or technical changes have the biggest influence?

MA: It’s going to be a combination of these, but risk reduction will definitely come into it – a lot of mining companies still feel technologies are risky whether that is in their implementation, operator acceptance, cost, etc. There is a myriad of risks associated with changing the way you do things and investing in technologies. A lot of that risk is, at least, reduced through collaboration; creating a bigger market and being clear on what products we want and how we develop the business cases, produce products and then implement them. That dynamic will evolve as mining companies get more used to implementing some of these new technologies and working with their people in a more agile way.

That said, I do think the rate of social change being driven through technology – the way we interact, get information, perceive and interact with the world, and how all of that continues to change social expectations – is accelerating. That cycle is putting more and more pressure on all companies, not just miners, to, for example, continually reduce their environmental impact (greenhouse gas and diesel emission reductions, for example). There is also an ever-increasing pressure for governments and communities to get greater amounts of wealth from their resources. In addition, investors are changing their thinking – what we used to call ‘impact’ investors are now almost considered ‘mainstream’.

There are a whole series of pressures that will be put on mining companies to make substantive changes to the way they do things and that will link to de-risking the way they implement new technologies.

IM: Looking at regulation, what are the major technology trends that will be influenced by incoming legislation, and where is this new legislation likely to come in first?

MA: A lot of governments – and I have recently spent most of my time in Canada, Australia and Europe – are thinking about how they reduce their environmental impact. Many of them have various greenhouse gas and climate change challenges, and I think aspects of these will find their way into legislation. That could be future reductions in diesel usage/emissions or energy usage (especially as it pertains to diesel, coal, etc). That means the electrification of industry and mining, specifically, could be impacted by regulations.

One of the reasons why I am keen to get more regulators involved in the GMG is because sometimes, in aspects of certain technology, the regulations are behind the technology use cases/implementations. As a result, there is a really great opportunity for industry and government to work hand-in-hand and get those regulations developed faster so some of these technologies can be implemented in a way that meets community, as well as industry, needs. I think drones, automation and robotics have all fallen into this category.

On automation specifically, the Western Australia Mining Department has led the world in thinking about and applying legislation around automation. That is in part because Western Australia is where a lot of the automation use cases started. There is a great role for them to show other regulators how these regulations could translate in their own regions. For instance, I spend time with Canadian Provincial Governments, and they are very keen to learn from what Western Australia has done in this arena. I think the Nordics – Finland and Sweden, especially – have also shown some great examples of how to create sandboxes and multi-industry collaborations for such technologies.

IM: Is there anything from a technology perspective stopping mining companies creating a fully autonomous operation?

MA: The challenges with automation are related to how to coordinate and control all autonomous equipment on a mine site in an integrated fashion. That is why we, at GMG, are pushing so strongly for greater interoperability so we can, say, connect Cat trucks with Boston Dynamic robots and some OffWorld swarm bots, operating them all on the one mine under one system. From a technology perspective, that is yet to be refined and developed; we can automate pieces – for example, trucks on surface, or trucks and scoops working together underground – but we can’t go beyond that.

IM: Interoperability has been holding back technology uptake for decades; are we close to a tipping point when it comes to solving this problem?

MA: While we have been talking about interoperability for decades, we haven’t had the really fast communications systems we have today with the likes of 4G and LTE. We also haven’t had the plethora of sensors or the computing power and storage via cloud computing. The latter is a big part of the puzzle as mining companies were using on-premises software for so long for their computing needs, which creates limitations.

I think we are starting to see some movement from the OEMs around interoperability and this whole open innovation concept. There has been wider acceptance across the mining community that open innovation creates competition, instead of stifling it. The interoperability work we are doing is starting to prove that.

Cat, for example, has just announced a partnership with IOSoft to upload the data from a lot of their machinery so it can be interpreted and analysed, etc. That is a move forward in terms of creating open data platforms.

IM: Lastly, with the advent of machine learning and AI, what do you see happening in the future with roles such as the geologist, metallurgist, engineer? Will mine site teams in, say 10-20 years, be dominated by data scientists/engineers, as opposed to personnel with these traditional skillsets?

MA: Going forward, we will have a much more diverse skillset on mine sites. I don’t think the geologist, metallurgist, or mining engineer – that knowledge base – will be completely replaced. Even in 50-100 years, I see that human ingenuity still being required. But I do think, in the next five, 10, 20, or so years, artificial intelligence and machine learning will help augment what we currently do.

For example, as a geologist, you spend a lot of time uploading data, manipulating geological models, etc. You spend far less time pondering what it all means or analysing the best way to obtain and evaluate that data based on what you already know and understand. Similarly, a lot of mining engineers spend time running numbers and changing small pieces of design and calculating the myriad of knock-on changes, as opposed to running numerous mine engineering scenarios.

What machine learning and AI will do is free us up from a lot of the mundane work carried out now and allow us to spend much more time on the analysis and contemplation side of the business.

GMG makes first interoperability steps with draft guidelines

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published a new report describing “principles, priorities and a vision for commitment” based on content from the draft GMG Interoperability Definitions and Roadmap guideline.

It presents a consensus of the industry’s vision and direction for interoperability gathered through interviews and workshops with 17 mining companies on six continents, GMG said, adding that the draft GMG Interoperability Definitions and Roadmap guideline is the result of many workshops held over the last two years with over 120 participating companies.

“Interoperability is the key to success in automation, digitalisation and integration initiatives and achieving the sustainability, safety and productivity benefits associated with them,” it said. “As an industry that is becoming increasingly digital, poor interoperability presents growing challenges. Interoperability cannot be solved in a vacuum and coordination and alignment are needed to enable interoperability on a global scale.”

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, said achieving mining company alignment on priorities, vision and guiding principles for interoperability was a “logical first step” as miners are the ones most immediately affected by the safety and productivity challenges associated with poor interoperability.

“A clear, unified voice from mining companies will provide the input mining equipment, technology and services companies and industry organisations require to adapt and develop new tools and processes effectively.”

She added: “This alignment will provide a foundation for building improved communication and collaboration between all stakeholders to drive the industry forward.”

This report is part of GMG’s Interoperability and Functional Safety Acceleration Strategy (IFSAS), launched in early 2019 with support from BHP and Rio Tinto. This strategy aims to facilitate collaboration and accelerate progress on interoperability and functional safety, according to GMG.

This working document will be updated based on continued industry communications and engagement. The company said: “Through IFSAS, GMG is facilitating further engagement based on the priorities and principles drafted in the report.”

More mining companies will be solicited for their input in this, with an IFSAS steering committee also established to drive international collaboration and accelerate “value realisation across the industry”, GMG said.

GMG says it is also engaging with other organisations working on interoperability initiatives, both inside and outside the mining industry, to improve visibility and prevent duplication of effort. A roundtable of organisations working on different aspects of the issue will be held in Perth, Australia, this week to drive this collaboration, it said.

The full Interoperability Alignment report is available here.

GMG publishes new short interval control guideline

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) says it has published the Guideline for Implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) in Underground Mining Operations.

SIC is a structured system in which data from mining processes are periodically reviewed and action is taken in response to them, GMG explained. “This guideline provides a roadmap to increase the speed and likelihood of success during SIC implementation while avoiding common pitfalls.”

Specifically, the publication presents a conceptual model of what SIC could look like that includes an operational framework, detailed workflows, and an outline of data enablement at various levels of maturity, according to GMG.

SIC has only recently begun to be used in underground mining, although it has a long history in the manufacturing industry.

GMG said: “One challenge in implementing SIC is tailoring it to the operation at hand because underground mining conditions can be unpredictable, but the guideline offers mining stakeholders a base of knowledge of how it can be applied.”

Greg Sandblom, Operation and Business Technology Lead at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore Company, says the guideline “can provide a valuable reference to mining companies during all phases of SIC deployments at existing mines or new mine projects”.

He continued: “It can effectively act as a checkpoint to validate that lessons learned and experience from leaders across the mining industry are applied to their implementations.”

Lisa Önnerlov, Development Engineer – Industrial Design at Boliden, said there was potential for the application of the guideline for those already using a SIC system.

“Even though we have been working with SIC for many years, we still have a lot to improve,” she said. “We face challenges like refining the overall coordination and to take advantage of new technological possibilities and make it useful in reality. We hope that this guideline will be a tool for both benchmarking and as a common reference in collaboration with other mining companies working with SIC.”

SIC has the potential to increase productivity and lower costs, according to GMG. As the practice becomes more common, it will, in turn, become increasingly accessible, according to Gordon Fellows, President of Fellows Mining and Digital Solutions.

“Achieving the greatest benefit from SIC comes from monitoring and controlling the shortest interval, but results are possible even at lower levels of maturity and at lower cost,” he said. “As technology evolves, it will make it simpler and less expensive to reach higher levels of maturity.”

One highlight of the process of developing the guideline, according to Liv Carroll, Senior Principal, Mining Transformation and Applied Intelligence at Accenture, has been the input from and cooperation between various stakeholders in the mining industry.

Carroll said there had been “effective collaboration between operators, service providers, consultants and technology specialists alongside the GMG team; our industry working as one for the benefit of all”.

She added: “In working together, we have drawn on a breadth of global and diverse experience to amalgamate leading practices into the guideline considering all levels of maturity and allowing for future evolution.”

Looking ahead, implementing SIC offers great potential for positive change in the industry because it facilitates better planning, quicker decisions, increased production, lower costs and creates a safer working environment, according to GMG.

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, says: “I am very excited to see the publication of the SIC guideline because it is not only the culmination of a lot of work from many people, but also a fundamental building block for the transformation of our industry. I am looking forward to visiting mines post implementation and seeing the case studies that arise from their efforts.”

Analytics, data and security on the Austmine 2019 agenda

Austmine 2019 is set to delve into the future of analytics, data and security, key themes that are setting the agenda for the next horizon in the mining industry, according to event organisers.

Running from May 21-23 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Austmine 2019 will, organisers say, feature thought leaders from around the world, who will present their insights into the latest developments in digital efficiencies and live analytics systems, as well as how big data is leading to change across the industry.

“The topic of digital change is one which encompasses the entire value chain, with the optimised use of data leading to production efficiencies, while also having favourable human and environmental outcomes,” the organisers said.

For Austmine 2019, presenters will cover a broad range of perspectives, from mining companies, METS, academia and government.

One of the keynote speakers is Michelle Ash, Chair, Global Mining Guidelines (GMG) Group, who will examine the question: “Disruption is here: how will we harness it?”

Ash said: “I am really excited to be speaking at the Austmine 2019 conference and sharing with delegates how digital technologies are impacting mining around the world.

“There are some amazing advancements in other industries that are also applicable and exciting, but as always, the technology is only part of the challenge implementing them into our organisations, and driving the value and impacts of safety, the environment and productivity is key to the success.

“Delegates will also hear about some of the keys to ensuring that implementation of technology is successful, and how we can increase our rate of change as an industry.”

Other speakers slated to present include Rob Cunningham, Mining Operations Manager at CMOC Northparkes Mines, who will explain how the company is driving an Improvement Innovation Culture at its operations, which embrace the latest block cave mining technologies.

Rob Labbé, Director, Information Security, Teck Resources, will delve into cyber security – enabling the digital mine through cyber risk management and collaboration – while John Vagenas, Managing Director, Metallurgical Systems, asks the question – “Blue pill or red pill? Digital case studies within mineral processing.”

During his presentation, Vagenas is set to explore why so many companies are hesitant when it comes to digital transformation.

“Essentially, digital transformation is about turning data into information so as to gain full transparency into a plant’s operations,” Vagenas said. “For many companies in our sector, it can be an uncomfortable notion. Transparency isn’t always immediately popular, as it threatens how much control some people have over what is and isn’t reported. But, in reality, it can deliver such an enormous and rapid benefit that it’s madness not to make the transition.”

Joining this speaker line-up is Barry Elliot, Vice President, Enterprise Accounts: Heavy Industries, Rockwell Automation, from South Africa, to provide insights into improving mining value from operations data.

He is set to outline solutions around data collection, storage, visualisation and analytics, with a focus on the company’s scalable analytics approach, the FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, as well as applications of AR/VR for visualisation, according to organisers.

In addition to a focus on analytics, data and security, other key themes are set to include the human element of technology, intelligent equipment, sustainability, as well as integration and connectivity.

The two-day conference will be complimented by workshops, a sold-out exhibition, networking opportunities, the Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards and more, organisers said.

International Mining is a media sponsor for the upcoming Austmine event

GMG completes the underground communications infrastructure trilogy

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has published the third part of its Underground Mine Communications Infrastructure guideline suite, which, it says, provides an overview of the planning and design recommendations for underground communications development.

Called Underground Mine Communications Infrastructure Guidelines, Part III: General Guidelines, the document also includes some best practices used within mining environments and where to find more information on digital communications, standards, and frameworks, GMG said.

Andrew Scott, Principal Innovator, Symbiotic Innovations and GMG Vice-Chair Working Groups, described this document as “a key general reference for any company looking to implement communications infrastructure at any of their operations or new projects”.

This guideline suite was developed in response to the rapid development of industrial and communications technology in recent years, according to GMG. “It provides a high-level view of the processes needed by mine personnel to meet planning and design requirements when creating or replacing underground mine communications infrastructure,” GMG said. “It steps the user through the general tasks and components to define the technical requirements for an underground communications infrastructure that sup­ports mine services now and into the future.”

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, said: “These technologies are now at the heart of mining safety and productivity and are becoming essential for running safe, productive and efficient underground mining operations. Anything we can do to speed up the rate of adoption in our members’ operations will make a positive impact on the industry.”

These general guidelines form the core content of the guideline suite, according to GMG. Part I: Positioning and Needs Analysis provides a general overview of the guideline objectives and audience and presents a mine communications maturity lifecycle diagram. Part II: Scenarios and Applications outlines scenarios of practical applications in underground mining today and in the near future. Both were published in 2017.

This third part, Scott explained, can be used more directly: “[It] provides a sound foundation for selecting the appropriate communications infrastructure, assisting with the decision-making process.”

This project has been ongoing since the Underground Mining Working Group formed in 2015. “The underground communications project group has been a very active and motivated group of mine operators and technology suppliers,” Scott said.

Eric L’Heureux, President, Solutions Ambra Inc, said, from a technology provider’s perspective, “This guideline is very important as it allows the mining industry to stay on the leading edge of the technology. The mining companies can get relevant information allowing them to upgrade their networks and meet requirements required by new applications such as remote operation, ventilation on demand and tracking.”

Cailli Knievel, Chief Engineer, Newmont Leeville Operations, said what she learned while working on this guideline was “extremely relevant as Newmont moves toward increased automation”.

It is great “to get an outside perspective on items that have the potential to disrupt the industry in the future”, she added.

Teck’s Kalev Ruberg to become GMG Vice Chair

Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has welcomed Teck Resources’ Vice President of Digital Systems and Chief Information Officer (CIO), Kalev Ruberg, as its new Vice Chair.

He brings extensive experience in information technology and business leadership to the GMG Executive Council, GMG said. He has held the position of CIO with Teck since 2006 and has a strong background in information systems and technology and applied artificial intelligence. Ruberg was appointed Vice President, Digital Systems, in 2017.

Ruberg, who holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will sit on the Executive Council and help shape GMG strategy, the organisation said. As part of his Vice Chair role, he will be on track to become Chair in 2020.

“Teck is a GMG leadership member, and this new partnership reinforces a shared vision for a sustainable future of mining and a shared commitment to bringing industry leaders together to achieve it,” GMG said.

Michelle Ash, GMG Chair, said: “It is wonderful to have Kal join the executive as Vice Chair. In his role with Teck, he has shown his tremendous ability for leadership, strategy and collaboration, all of which he will bring to the role with GMG.”

Ruberg will officially join the GMG Executive Council at the Annual General Meeting on April 30 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Barrick Gold to sell AuTec R&D division, WSJ says

Barrick Gold is said to be selling research and development company AuTec as part of a new strategy tied to the upcoming merger with Randgold Resources.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said one of the first assets to go as part of a plan to offload non-core assets, reduce costs and reduce management head count, devised by incoming CEO Mark Bristow, would be AuTec, a full-service metallurgical testing lab and piloting facility, serving the mining industry.

The news comes soon after the company eliminated the executive role of Chief Innovation Officer, a post previously held by Michelle Ash.

Barrick is in the middle of merging with Bristow’s Randgold in a deal that would solidify Barrick’s position as the world’s number one gold miner by production.

AuTec has previously carried out metallurgical test work at Barrick’s Pueblo Viejo, Golden Sunlight and Goldstrike mines, among others. it has capabilities tied to mineral analysis, comminution, environmental and cyanide detox, hydrometallurgy, mineralogy and mineral processing, among others.