Tag Archives: mining software

Main image for SFA Feb 2022

FEATURE ARTICLE: Mining Software

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.

Datamine gains FIFO rostering market share with PeopleTray buy

Datamine has announced the strategic acquisition of PeopleTray, a Western Australia-based company providing mining production and workforce management solutions to mining operations across Australia.

PeopleTray’s flagship Workforce Management Solution provides a complete integrated system for staff rosters, mining camps, health and safety and compliance, according to Datamine. In addition, the MPX Mine Production solution helps engineers and geologists record, analyse and report on production physicals.

Dylan Webb, CEO of Datamine, said: “PeopleTray provides quality solutions that are complementary to Datamine’s comprehensive suite of offerings across the mining value chain. We look forward to supporting the long-term growth of the business through access to capital, international networks and sharing of best practices, and welcome the PeopleTray staff and customers to the Datamine family.”

Tony Hampton, CEO of PeopleTray, added: “We are excited about the opportunities for our customers and our people by joining Datamine. This initiative will help us accelerate our product development and business growth, resulting in new innovations and services to help our customers achieve their goals.”

PeopleTray customers, Datamine says, will benefit from Datamine’s global infrastructure and resources, including deep expertise in R&D and scalable customer support in local languages through 29 global offices. PeopleTray’s focus is FIFO rostering, mining camp management, mine production reporting, training, onboarding, health and safety, supplier management and compliance, it says.

Canary Systems launches new MLWeb3 software platform

Canary Systems Inc., a leader in web-based data visualisation and geotechnical monitoring solutions, has announced the release of its MLWeb3 software platform, including a host of updated features and enhancements that, it says, will redefine how companies harness the power of data collection, integration and analysis.

MLSuite® is, according to Canary, a vendor-independent platform able to seamlessly connect all the links of a monitoring project (instrumentation, dataloggers, third-party databases and telemetry) in a single interface. This approach opens powerful possibilities for cross-referencing any type of data, for alarming and notifications based on real-world complexity, for forecasting and recognising trends, as well as for effective reporting and risk management.

With the release of MLWeb3, users can expect a transformative experience, thanks to a suite of improvements that elevate the capabilities of the platform, the company says.

New GIS, 3D and charting engine
MLWeb3 offers a powerful GIS and 3D engine, providing users with spatial data visualisation capabilities, Canary says. Users are able to explore data like never before, with immersive 3D visualisations and enhanced geographical insights. In addition, the MLWeb3 charting engine has been completely reimagined, offering users more dynamic and interactive charting options. This allows users to present data in compelling, informative ways to make informed decisions.

Intuitive user experience: the “smart” user interface
MLWeb3 introduces a “smart” user interface that adapts to user needs, streamlining workflows and making data analysis more intuitive and efficient.

Powerful global search
MLWeb3, Canary says, now features a powerful global search function that helps users quickly locate and access the data they need, saving time and boosting productivity.

Redesigned data storage & performance improvements
MLWeb3’s data storage has been redesigned for enhanced efficiency and security, ensuring valuable data is in safe hands. Furthermore, substantial performance enhancements have been made to ensure that MLWeb3 operates seamlessly even with large datasets, enabling faster data analysis.

Deep linking & browser tab support
With deep linking and browser tabs support, users can easily navigate between different views and data sets, simplifying the data exploration process, Canary says.

Commit Works looks to streamline cross-department comms, collaboration with CiteOps 25.0

Commit Works has unveiled CiteOps 25.0, a pivotal advancement in cloud-driven operations planning & execution software tailored for the mining industry, the company says.

CiteOps 25.0 redefines both front-end and back-end application services, according to the company, ushering in a new era of operational efficiency and collaboration.

Shaun MacRae – Head of Product, says: “CiteOps 25.0 represents a significant step forward in meeting the evolving needs of the mining sector. Our platform’s seamless scaling empowers mining operations of all sizes, facilitating improved collaboration and optimised processes.”

With a fully containerised product operating seamlessly across Windows and Unix server operating systems, CiteOps 25.0 now offers cloud-native application hosting services. MacRae says this new infrastructure empowers its clients to harness the benefits of cloud computing and Industry 4.0 practices, “enabling operational excellence at an unprecedented scale”.

He said: “The addition of enhanced shadow tasks further solidifies CiteOps 25.0’s transformative impact. We’re excited to introduce features that will streamline communication and collaboration across operational teams and departments.”

With this release, Commit Works says it reaffirms its position as a leader in cloud-enabled mining operations software.

Talisman’s ProdMate evolving from its big data roots

“The wider mining industry might have been talking about the concept of ‘big data’ for less than 10-12 years, but it’s been on our agenda since 1988,” Chris Wilkinson, ProdMate Chief Executive Office, tells IM.

“We were the first to apply flash memory in a non-military application, at the time buying 156 kb flash drives to record data coming off continuous miners.

“We were pioneers of ‘mining’ data for improving operational performance.”

Wilkinson and his team, now within Talisman Partners under the Talisman Technical subsidiary that acquired ProdMate in early 2022, have come a long way in the 35 years since it started in the data and process improvement realm.

The company has expanded from analysis of continuous miner operation in coal mines into developing a four pillar-strong ProdMate integrated production management platform that has applications across all types of operating mines.

These make for a holistic, equipment- and mining method-agnostic platform that, when used in tandem and with an adequate change management process in place, can increase production by up to 40% within six months, according to the company.

ProdMate found its feet in the South African coal market in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then, around 1999, a large international mining corporation came to the company looking to apply the system and change management at one of its mines in South Africa.

“They initially saw a 44% increase in production in the first year and continued driving process improvement and KPI analysis over a further three years to achieve an 80% production improvement and world-class productivity,” Wilkinson said of this mine-site installation.

Such results – with a high-profile client – put ProdMate on the map in South Africa, with around 85% of the domestic coal market eventually taking up its use.

The step-up in performance at numerous mines was also a reflection of ProdMate’s ongoing evolution, according to Wilkinson, moving from a hardware and software company to one focused on powerful software that could be applied on all equipment and mining methods, regardless of vendor.

“We soon realised that it didn’t matter how many sensors on the equipment you had feeding you data, you still needed humans to tell you things about the mining environment to provide that required operational context,” he said.

This led to the development of mobile device software to report, in real time, what the machines were doing. This has since become the ProdNote mobile device software that makes up one of the four modules within ProdMate.

A planning board followed soon after, providing an alternative to the Excel-based reporting that miners had been using. This Excel alternative creates a digital shift plan and targets that all team members can follow. Combining digital planning with machine data process analytics and actual production data, as well as task completion and downtime recorded in real time via the ProdNote mobile device software, completed the “closed loop” digital management system.

The MOS Meeting Manager was the last input to complete the puzzle: “What we felt was missing was an electronic meeting manager that could help clients track issue resolution through action tracking across the mines hierarchy of MOS meetings, making accountability and resolution of problems simpler to manage,” Wilkinson said. “Many clients implemented MOS systems but mine management were concerned that people spent too much time in meetings and not enough time supervising their core functions. We auto linked information to the correct meetings, created data analytics to help make meetings more efficient and allowed clients to track organisational efficiency.”

As it stands today, customers can pick and choose between all of these modules, integrating with any other software platforms they may be using to improve and track their operations.

“The real power of this is when you integrate it all together,” Wilkinson said. “When all four modules speak directly to each other, and to any other complementary systems, there is a clear cause and effect that allows for accelerated and effective decision making.”

It goes further than this, with an embedded digital twin allowing companies to sketch out theoretical scenarios if, for example, a critical production machine goes down.

“This digital twin keeps running and automatically updates, allowing the operation to see what effect this outage has on the mine schedule,” Wilkinson said.

All this information comes with a digital record to allow for not only regulatory reporting, but also ongoing learnings and knowledge transfer.

“At any point, shift managers can go back into the data log and carry out a post-shift review of what happened in that particular moment,” Wilkinson said. “This is priceless for new employees as they can follow the same path that resolved a similar situation last time.”

There are also integrations with the ProdMate system – think fleet management, personnel proximity, air quality station systems, etc – some more advanced applications already benefit from.

Wilkinson sees further functionality being added to ProdMate in the future, too.

“We’re no longer in the big data realm; data paralysis is a real thing and the biggest cause of falling ROI on software systems,” Wilkinson said. “We’re now all about information transfer and utilisation; making sure only valuable data gets to decision makers or analysis systems.

“I think we’re just scratching the surface with this as an industry and ProdMate will continue to evolve to integrate with new solutions that provide valuable information, not simply data.”

BME enhances blasting control and monitoring with next-generation Xplolog release

Mining solutions specialist BME has released a new version of its Xplolog system for capturing and analysing data on blast holes and decks.

BME – part of Omnia’s mining segment – developed Xplolog as a powerful tool for mines to monitor their block progress in real time, providing the necessary data to track trends and continuously improve the quality of blasts, it says.

The focus in developing this next-generation Xplolog has been the detailed guidance by users, according to Christiaan Liebenberg, BME Product Manager Software Solutions. This has led to making the system more user friendly, scalable and streamlined with other BME digital solutions – while also benefiting from improved data security, the company says.

“We engaged our Xplolog users in a highly systematic way to inform us at every step of our upgrade process,” Liebenberg said. “After our first structured interviews with users, for instance, we developed mock-ups and wireframes that we could take back to the user group for further testing. This approach was even taken into the design and prototype stages, ensuring that the system was in many ways actually built by the users.”

With the design and application code built from the ground up, and with a new and upgraded database using Google’s Cloud Services, the performance of Xplolog has been enhanced. The capacity of the system can also be rapidly increased, allowing better scalability; customers can have a site set up within a matter of hours, according to BME.

Christiaan Liebenberg – BME Product Manager Software Solutions

“Security has been improved through a more robust login and registration process,” Liebenberg said. “There are different user access levels in the new version, giving customers more control over who can access information related to their role in the organisation.

“Users will appreciate how everything is centralised in this version of Xplolog, and how we have improved the workflow for third party blast design uploads in the system.”

The look and feel of Xplolog has been revised in line with the progressive standardising of design across BME’s Blast Alliance digital solutions. This makes users feel familiar with the BME offering, through increased brand identification and continuity of the customer experience with Blast Alliance, Liebenberg said.

“Another important aspect of our upgrade is that users can easily customise their dashboards, creating a personalised view of block information important to the user,” he said.

Customised reports can be created and saved, allowing users to return to that recurring daily, weekly or monthly report each week or month as required. A summary view of block data is visible to track progress at a quick glance for the user.

“We have also given users the ability to better visually track block progress, with the creative use of colours and iconography,” Liebenberg said.

The process of inputting data has been optimised by rationalising the number of steps or actions wherever possible. Importantly, Liebenberg pointed out that Xplolog’s integration with BME’s mobile manufacturing units (MMUs) has taken account of different regional preferences and conditions around the globe.

“The system also provides mines with a digital audit trail, so that they can track operator performance during the drilling and charging phases, as well as provide hole loading information per truck,” he said.

Xplolog is integrated with other BME offerings like its blast planning software Blastmap, and to third-party blast software.

Integrated with BME’s MMUs, Xplolog, BME says, allows the MMU operator to charge and top-up holes accurately from the source application, which will have the latest blast design updates loaded. The actual charged and top-up values from the MMU’s digital panel will automatically be sent back to Xplolog, which will make the data available on the cloud platform for review and analysis.

“Our new version of Xplolog continues to raise the bar in leveraging digital technology,” Liebenberg said. “Our software engineering team continues to add new features and implement continuous improvements as we receive feedback from users of the system in the field – to help mines operate more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely.”

These updates are released to all existing customers of Xplolog every quarter at no additional cost, according to BME.

RPMGlobal launches ‘next generation’ mine scheduling solution

RPMGlobal has leveraged its XPAC mine scheduling engine to develop what it says is a next generation mine scheduling solution in the form of RPM MinePlanner.

RPM MinePlanner is built on the foundation of XPAC, the world’s most utilised mine scheduling engine, RPM claims. This scheduling engine has been continually refined for over 40 years and is used globally across virtually every commodity and mining method. MinePlanner combines all of those mining methods and commodity types into one single enterprise package, it explains.

MinePlanner includes a complete core redesign of the scheduling engine that underpins the product. The release introduces Smart Scheduling, a heuristic-based scheduling engine that combines automated, manual and hybrid approaches and tools. Smart Scheduling provides a streamlined user experience and adds flexibility by, RPM says, eliminating restrictions on the scheduling methodology being used at any point of the schedule.

David Batkin, RPMGlobal’s Executive General Manager of Product Strategy, said the design team was tasked with simplifying the product without compromising sophistication and capabilities.

“RPM MinePlanner takes the complicated mine planning process and simplifies it so engineers can focus on generating value,” he said. “The team has provided more sophistication within the product while making it easier to use.”

Unlike many other scheduling tools, MinePlanner has advanced heuristics fully integrated into the product, RPM says. It can be used for any commodity and is 100% script free. This sophisticated package includes reserving, dump and destination scheduling, equipment modelling, haulage modelling, product optimisation and reporting all rolled into one integrated mine scheduling solution. The smarts of MinePlanner really come to the fore when the scheduling engine is run as all components are considered in parallel rather than in series, the company says.

Reporting also gets a major upgrade with the introduction of live reporting always in sync with the scheduling engine.

According to Batkin, reporting is its most valuable when you are in the middle of making scheduling decisions, so having live reporting ensures the right information is available as and when needed. Being able to see the results of each scheduling change without the need to re-run the schedule provides significant advantages and time savings.

The inclusion of “Breakpoint Scheduling”, which RPM says it pioneered in 2021, has been strengthened significantly with the addition of live reporting. Users now get immediate feedback on current scheduling results every time a breakpoint is reached.

Another new feature of MinePlanner is “Schedule Locking”. Schedule locking allows the user to lock portions of the schedule they are finished with, avoiding the need to reschedule when refining future periods, the company explains. Schedule locking significantly reduces the time needed to complete a schedule by eliminating unnecessary reprocessing of scheduling periods that have already been successfully scheduled.

Batkin concluded: “During our 40 years as the market leader in mine scheduling we have seen copycats come and go, however this evolution of the product will be extremely difficult to replicate given both the architecture and functionality advances.”

Guanajuato Silver reduces costs, optimises workflow with Micromine software solution

Micromine says Guanajuato Silver Company has chosen Micromine as its primary geological and mine design software provider.

Micromine Origin and Micromine Beyond software will soon be implemented across four active mine sites – El Cubo, Valenciana, San Ignacio and Topia.

Guanajuato Silver chose Micromine Origin and Micromine Beyond due to the comprehensive functionality, which has enabled the company to replace multiple geological modelling, mapping and mine design applications with Micromine’s powerful all-in-one solution, Micromine said.

James Anderson, Chairman & CEO of Guanajuato Silver, said: “We believe both Micromine Origin and Micromine Beyond will enhance the performance of our mine exploration and engineering teams. By consolidating multiple software licences into one comprehensive package, we have been able to reduce our software costs while optimising workflows. We are also confident that Micromine’s strong support and commitment to customer success will help us achieve our goals as we continue on our journey to reactivate silver and gold mines in Guanajuato.”

Guido Perez, Micromine’s Regional Manager for the Americas region, said: “I regularly hear from geologists who are frustrated about the amount of time they are losing transferring data between multiple applications. It’s been a great experience for us to work with Guanajuato Silver to solve this problem for their team. By implementing a single software solution that covers multiple steps in the mining process, their team can stop worrying about managing software and start focusing on what matters.”

As one of the fastest-growing silver producers in Mexico, Guanajuato Silver also placed high importance on access to multi-language training and support for its rapidly growing team, the software provider said. Micromine has responded to this need quickly, already hosting in-person training sessions with over 50 users on-site in Guanajuato, Mexico.

The implementation of Micromine Origin and Micromine Beyond is just the first step in the ongoing relationship between Guanajuato Silver and Micromine, according to the latter. The organisations are currently collaborating on a program to support mining students in the Guanajuato region in developing the technical skills required for their future careers.

Commit Works launches My Shift Resourcing for CiteOps software

Commit Works, a software provider of integrated work management solutions, has launched My Shift Resourcing, a new feature of CiteOps specifically designed to cater to the needs of shift supervisors responsible for executing operational shift plans, it says.

Building upon the existing weekly and 24 hour plans in CiteOps, My Shift Resourcing provides shift leadership with an easy way to allocate planned tasks to locations, equipment and personnel, according to the company. The web-based shift-lineout tool supports drag-and-drop task assignments, providing real-time feedback on the expected use of locations, equipment and personnel.

Shaun MacRae, Head of Product, says: “My Shift Resourcing is a game-changer for shift supervisors. The feature is designed to streamline the process of managing and executing shift plans, providing real-time feedback on resource utilisation. This simplifies shift planning and optimises operations by ensuring that work is assigned to the appropriate resources when needed.”

My Shift Resourcing is fully supported by CiteOps’ powerful personnel rostering capabilities, as well as the recently released skills and qualifications management capabilities, Commit Works says. This ensures the right resources are allocated to the right work at the right time. All work assignments appear automatically on custom or out-of-the-box shift plan printouts, as well as on mobile tablet and phone interfaces for digital field operations.

My Shift Resourcing has undergone on-site testing and development to deliver a measurable impact on operations, the company explained. It simplifies the detailed shift planning process and boosts overall operational efficiency by streamlining workflows, Commit Works added.

Hexagon’s Mining division introduces new features to software suite

Hexagon’s Mining division has introduced a new innovative block model management solution to its HxGN MinePlan solution, seeking to address the complex challenges associated with orebody data management.

This release will introduce HxGN MinePlan Block Model Manager, which enables users to quickly populate, manage and share block models from HxGN MinePlan 3D and third-party systems.

One of the key features of HxGN MinePlan Block Model Manager is its new API, which simplifies integration with other systems enabling data interoperability, according to the company. This means users no longer need to manually import or export block model data, streamlining the process and saving valuable time.

To remain at the forefront of technology changes, Hexagon says it is continuously modernising MinePlan, ensuring it remains a leading-edge solution that fits seamlessly into the modern digital ecosystems its clients are investing in, making it adaptable to changing needs.

Among other new features included within Hexagon’s Mining division latest releases are an enhancement of the MinePlan 3D Auto Cut Generation tool to allow for batch configuration of cut parameters. This will allow planning engineers to configure the cut parameters for all their pits in the first step of their workflow and run the batch of cut operations in the next step, according to the company.

In the HxGN MinePlan Geosciences Suite release, the company has included the ability to back-code geologic solids to drill holes, creating new intervals that the solids intersect. This has been a long-requested feature that will better enable field exploration planning, support superior reconciliation of geologic domain models and improve geostatistics resolution, according to Hexagon’s Mining division.

The results of MinePlan Geologic can be coded to drill holes. Users can validate results of coding operations in MinePlan 3D

The company’s HxGN MinePlan GeoLogic implicit modelling solution has also further undergone several enhancements, which will result in more realistic geologic models in complex geological settings, particularly in environments with complex faulting, the company says.

Lastly, in the HxGN MinePlan Schedule Optimizer solution, users will now be able to restrict the availability of roads by phase and elevation, while road availability by bench elevation has been added to allow further control of material routing. Alongside this, the software developers have included the ability to update the model location without resetting the schedule, allowing the user to define the new file path of a block model without having to reset the schedule, if the block model is moved to a new location. This will enable users to use the latest features in MinePlan Schedule Optimizer, such as destination coding if they need to move their block model to a new location, the company says.

MinePlan Schedule Optimizer also no longer requires users to set the destination ramps in a specific direction (from source to destination), eliminating unnecessary setup requirements.

Road availability can be toggled by segment and bench elevation in MinePlan Haulage

And, now that MinePlan Schedule Optimizer supports shovel scheduling, additional equipment information fields have been added, providing more comprehensive reporting, Hexagon’s Mining division said.

Lastly, on the HxGN Mineplan Activity Scheduler, Process Points – a destination type that can perform basic or complex calculations – allows users to model complex routing scenarios, such as routing by material type or pebble rejects sorting point for the mill. Blending Optimized Layers is a module inside MinePlan Activity Scheduler that allows the user to blend material coming from different sources to hit tonnage, volume and grade targets.

These two features can now work together, according to the company, providing a “great addition” for operations that needs to model complex routing scenarios and hit blending targets at the same time.

HxGN MinePlan Activity Scheduler works with three different types of volumes: BCM (Bench Cubic Metres), LCM (Loose Cubic Metres), and HCM (Haul Cubic Metres). MinePlan users can now run a blending scenario maximising HCM and LCM volume and using HCM and LCM as constraints, it said.