On the outskirts of Mongolia’s second largest city, Erdenet Mining Corp holds one of the largest porphyry-copper deposits in the country. To sustainably mine a resource this size, they started a digital revolution – from paper to digital and beyond.
The plant processes 32 million tons of ore every year, produces 130,000 tons of copper concentrate and more than 10,000 tons of molybdenum concentrate. It’s a lot to manage day-to-day, much less to optimise for the future.
“Any business entity, especially the mining industry, must innovate. At Erdenet, we have an Innovation Center,” says Batmunkh, chief operations officer at Erdenet.
The Center’s goal was to revolutionise operations to the same level as other world class mines. Besides its scale, the mine site had been in operation since 1978. A big challenge was to ensure that decades of valuable historic data was captured.
“Until recently, we estimated mine resources based on paper form data. Now, we are using the best technologies in the world. For this purpose, we’ve been using Seequent software since 2018,”Batmunkh, Chief Operations Officer at Erdenet
The exploration department began modelling geology with Leapfrog Geo and processing large amounts of geophysical data with Oasis montaj. The next step was to make their insights and models accessible to everyone, in near real-time using Seequent Central.
Historic data goes digital
Handwritten documents and spreadsheets sitting on hard drives once made it time consuming – if not impossible – to piece information together. Erdenet’s teams also couldn’t react quickly to new data or insights.
“I work on image data because I am in geological department. It covers tasks such as converting hand-drawn maps and photographs, importing them into software, comparing them with digital data, updating the model, and using it in the production process,” explains Tsedendamba, a geologist and resource estimation specialist at Erdenet.
“Prior to the introduction of Seequent software, it took a long time to digitise documented information, making it impossible for managers to make quick decisions.”
And with such a large resource, the amount of data keeps growing. The need to access it all in one place led their team to use Seequent Central, a Cloud-based data management and collaborative modelling solution.
“3D designs need to be produced very quickly to estimate resources and conduct mine planning. It used to take two to three months but thanks to Seequent, it can be done in two to three hours.”
Central now provides a single source of truth for all their files and models, updated automatically as new data is added.
“It’s characterized by its ability to produce models and calculate with continuous dynamic motion. It was the biggest impact in the transition from paper based to digital information.”
Bringing insights together
The company has grown rapidly and with more people and new teams, information had become siloed. Erdenet’s Innovation Center had to find a way that all teams could collaborate and build a shared understanding of the mine.
“There are 32 departments in the Erdenet Corporation. We cooperate with the Open Pit Mine and the Geology and Mine Surveying Department, and use Seequent Central for this purpose,” says Amarzaya, a senior geologist of the exploration division who has worked at Erdenet for 30 years.
“It was necessary to combine geological and mining data. Seequent’s products are now managing our data that was previously divided and unrelated.”
Central also provides them with a Cloud-based hub for collaborative model building and project file storage. It also allows everyone to securely access and track file versions. The whole team receives live notifications when changes are made.
“The quality of my work and the company has improved significantly. Manual errors in many operations have been reduced and the results of many works are integrated. As manual process and errors are reduced, more time is saved,” says Amarzaya.
“Now we are completing the work in one hour that used to take 10 hours.”Amarzaya, Senior Geologist at Erdenet
Getting stakeholders on the same page
Erdenet is a large, government-run company. They are required to provide clear, accurate information to stakeholders of all technical levels to help them make important decisions.
“Accurate and precise information needs to be provided to investors, shareholders, the government and relevant authorities,” says Undrakhtamir, head of the geology and surveying division and principal geologist at Erdenet.
“Mining software and systems play an important role in providing accurate information to those who invest in the mining business and those who work to monitor and improve the legal environment for the mining business.”
Their teams used the visualisation tools in Leapfrog Geo and Oasis montaj for communication along with the file tracking abilities of Central to support their results.
“The management and other team members are provided with prompt information. Besides saving time, we are able to make predictions about the future using old or existing data, which delivers unprecedented information.”
Tech for Erdenet’s future growth and closure
Erdenet expects to operate for another 60 years thanks to its continuing application of new technology.
“The skills of mining professionals are closely linked to the ability to use the natural resources in a low-waste, cost-effective, and sustainable manner,” says Batmunkh.
“The future of Erdenet is bright.”
Now, they are starting to look beyond the mine’s operations stage. Their Innovation Center is considering how to best prepare for remediation and a successful closure.
“Because Seequent itself is an advanced solution, it leads us to the next stage where we can produce tailings models and dam models,”Tsedendamba, Resource Geologist and Estimation Projects Leader at Erdenet
By launching a digital revolution, Erdenet is helping to secure a sustainable future for the mine and the environment.