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Industry leaders understand that to drive success they must better leverage their data to fuel operational efficiencies and innovation.

But while many companies collect data intended to inform business decisions and customers’ needs, at best it isn’t used to its full potential. Or worse – wasted.

Global business reports show up to two-thirds (68%) of data available to enterprises goes unleveraged.

“How to best use your data is a big challenge for mining,” says Pieter Neethling, Seequent Segment Director, Mining Operations. “By using it effectively to create more accurate geological models you can add real value to your grade control practises.”

Driving data efficiencies to better understand the geological controls on orebodies and optimise mine planning – is transformative.

“In data there’s powerful potential to deliver a much more complete picture of what you’ll encounter below ground,” says Neethling. “Bringing deeper insights to predict orebody, help streamline costs, maximise efficiency and reduce waste.”

No more chasing the grade

The subsurface is incredibly complex. Nothing is certain, no straight lines, many unknowns – and yet critical decisions must be made in the face of this uncertainty.

“At the core of every grade control challenge is knowing what the next blast and parcel of ore will bring and how this compares with the mine plan,” says Neethling. “A well-defined delineation of ore and waste in a stope, for example, is critical to ensure a more efficient and sustainable extraction.”

“We work in an industry that is volatile to market constraints,” he says. “We have to be able to hone in on where the highest quality ore sits or where the worst impurities lie to deliver on our customers’ needs, with enough flexibility to manage the ebb and flow of the market.”

How can we best unearth a consistent, profitable product, sustainably and safely in the most cost-effective way – for now and the long term?

Without an integrated workflow that incorporates all available data dynamically, we run the risk of misclassifying material and delaying decision-making due to the lack of a complete picture.

“For any drill hole, pit, ‘face’, blast or stockpile sample, what’s important is getting that new data into a geological model and flowing that information through fast enough to influence the short-term mine plan and schedule,” says Neethling.

Imagine the impact of weaving all that crucial, freshly available data into your geological model on the same day – within hours even?

“It would mean you can respond effectively, at speed, and make better, more informed decisions to drive efficiencies in grade control,” explains Neethling.

Put your data to work not your crew

Mining companies juggle multiple different challenges and complexities with optimal performance and profitability hanging on critical data use choices.

“If decision-makers can look at mining operations through a data-centric lens they can better recognise how to manage grade control for a more competitive edge and profit growth,” says Neethling.

“The natural variability of a deposit is the beauty of Mother Nature, and we can’t change that. But by increasing our knowledge of the geology with data, we can reduce uncertainty and improve our accuracy to enhance efficiencies.”

“Think of the logistics involved when you unexpectantly hit a pocket where grade quality drops, the time, cost and energy it takes to move mining equipment and crews to another area.”

What if you could better predict and proactively adjust your short-term schedule by distributing resources more effectively rather than simply shifting trucks around in pursuit of the next piece of ore?

“You want to be able to confidently budget and plan for the optimal application of resources, both mechanical and human, to extract the ore and minimise waste extraction,” says Neethling.

“With a clearer idea of the waste involved, there is less risk of unwanted waste handling meaning you can collect more ore per truck and maintain tighter control over equipment and fuel costs.”

“The potential savings in time, energy, resources, and dollars is massive,” he says.

Set up your team for success

Every day multiple stakeholders – from geologists to modellers to engineers – must make big calls on a mass of data, landing from a dozen different directions.

Along with this are production pressures and reconciliation reporting to worry about.

While the challenge is to collaborate across stakeholders to ensure a sustainable business, many organisations use outdated, inefficient communications. Approvals could take days while key learnings and information are distributed, reviewed and feedback collated.

“What’s important is ensuring the right data insights can be in the hands of decision-makers at the right time,” says Neethling. “At every stage, it’s imperative that each expert can easily share, weigh-in and help make sense of the data from their unique perspective.”

Including the right stakeholders across all conversations can not only help unearth current challenges and new opportunities but speed up decision-making.

“Data is the critical component here,” argues Neethling. “Imagine being able to easily capture and integrate all of your geoscience data, whatever its type, so teams can collaborate without barriers to make quicker, more tactical decisions.”

One customer, OceanaGold, a gold producer in Waihi New Zealand, has recognised how dynamically up-to-date models of ore reserves mean a much more agile approach to mining.

“Good data management allows OceanaGold Waihi to reduce grade control model turnaround time from ~ 1 week to ~1 day. Reducing the time from ore development to stoping and bringing benefits of up to $100,000 per stope panel,” says Abe Whaanga, Senior mine geologist at OceanaGold.

OceanaGold’s ongoing access to the most up-to-date information is key to improved efficiencies in their grade control and has empowered near real-time decisions across the whole team.

Being able to easily share their Cloud-based 3D model’s enables the team to collaborate, comment and monitor daily performance. And swiftly communicate this to the miners, engineers and geologists involved in operational planning and management reporting.

“By ensuring everyone is in sync and on the same page there are no surprises giving everyone a more informed, confident voice at the decision table,” says Neethling.

An informed pathway to improved performance

Exploring what data can offer through new technologies and solutions brings unequalled opportunities and edge to help teams solve workflow challenges, improve grade control efficiencies, and deliver greater value for companies and customers, in a more sustainable way.

“A streamlined workflow that gives a deep understanding of the ore body profile, as accurately defined as possible – is a precision enabled through our technology,” says Neethling.

“Seequent’s solution set delivers a truer picture of the subsurface. It enables teams to explore, build, monitor and maintain a lifetime digital twin to better understand grade control opportunities as well as project risks.”

“Together with Bentley, our industry-leading geological modelling and data management forms an end-to-end solution bringing you next level foresight to help make true inroads on meeting your productivity, safety and ESG goals,” says Neethling.

Find out how the industry’s most agile grade control offering, enables more informed, in-the-moment decision-making across the whole team.

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