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Helicopter view of mine to market plan

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Mine planning and modelling is a key element in the drive to increase production and improve efficiency.

Fortunately, today’s sophisticated mine planning software packages continue to help miners squeeze every last efficiency from their operations.

In line with this, one of the best known mining software developers, Mincom , has recently improved its mine planning and scheduling packages to significantly extend their functionality and expand their scope of operation.

The company’s MineScape software has long helped operation find efficiencies by automating mine planning and geologic analysis, and streamlining engineering processes.

Being Brisbane based, it was natural that Mincom’s early focus favoured open cut coal mining and this shaped the development of MineScape. More recently, however, the software has advanced to become a useful tool for the whole mining industry thanks to new developments.

Mincom product manager for MineScape and MineMarket Gerry Doyle tells Australian MiningAustralian Mining that new developments of MineScape enhance its use in hard rock underground mining.

“Recent developments make MineScape more powerful and provides a strong geological modelling capability, both stratigraphic and block modelling and can combine the two,” Doyle says.

“This is unique because it can use stratigraphic modelling to model and create the surfaces of a particular orebody and then use block modelling interpolation in between those surfaces,” he says.

“This involves drill hole and other sampling information, geophysical information and the like. Miners can use the geological modelling to interpret all of that data and build a model of the orebody or resource.”

Doyle says MineMarket delivers an enterprise view from a single data source to look at a company’s mining assets, where they are and what they are worth.

“It tracks materials and allows mining organisations to sell from anywhere in the physical processes on long-term or spot contracts for maximum profit,” Doyle says.

“While MineScape defines the plan, MineMarket keeps track of the process of moving the product from the pit all the way through the processes of managing the shipping process and the marketing activities at the end. This includes managing sophisticated metal contracts, concentrates and umpires.

“MineMarket particularly fills a gap in the metal mining industry. In most mining processes a lot of the selling activity is traditionally done with either legacy systems that are really getting quite old or in many cases with Excel spreadsheets.”

Doyle says most mines do the mine plan but do not get too sophisticated about costing the whole activity because a typical mine planning process might bring a plan down to one month.

“We’re trying to enhance MineScape so it gets down to the daily view and then it can pass that into our Ellipse ERP system so we can cost it.”

To this end, the next iteration of MineScape, Version 5, will use the same computer architecture as MineMarket to make the integration seamless.

“The next step with scheduling is getting to a point where there is a time schedule that becomes a logical device to create work orders in the business system to enhance the costing process,” Doyle says.

“We’re looking to build on enhanced scheduling ability to better integrate with the business system to provide mine managers and mine planners with more detailed and sophisticated information for their short term planning and also giving them better cost control over the whole process.”

Enhancements to MineMarket provide a corporate view of the whole supply chain.

“Now users know what is in stockpiles at various mines, what is in transit, when ships are due, when contracts are due. And it tracks its quality all the way: we’ve traditionally been able to track the product in terms of tonnes, but we can now see tonnes of what,” Doyle says.

MineMarket has three key modules: the first is tracking the product so every transaction of material, whether it is one tonne or 200t that has been moved in a shift.

“The second module is a laboratory information system that identifies and tracks samples, linking them to the tracked product and managing the laboratory process of analysing those samples and getting sample data along with them.

“Part of what the tracking process is doing is continually using the best data available.

“So, if for example, I move some product out of the pit the system will initially assign the quality that came out of the drill holes in the pit, when that ore is sampled this information is assigned to it. One of the clever parts of the process is if the ore has moved on further downstream the system recalculates the quality downstream, so it is continually assigning the best quality it can,” Doyle says.

“The third module is managing the selling process, which is mostly around managing contracts and all the rules and regulations. So sellers sitting in London can see the product wherever it is and see its quality. This quality management is a significant enhancement of what Mincom could previously do,” he says.

While each product is stand-alone, as a value proposition they are greater with richer data as an integrated.

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