Real-Time Geoscience Technologies Are Transforming Mine Productivity, Efficiency and Profitability
By Thor Kallestad
Technology really is changing everything, and that is no less true in the global mining industry. Major technological breakthroughs such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and the cloud, have ushered in an exciting new era in which mine operators can now achieve significant improvements in mine productivity, efficiency and ultimately profitability.
These technology breakthroughs are especially evident in how real-time geoscience is transforming how mining companies can now master the subsurface like never before. Using today’s powerful, cloud-based technologies, mine operators can process massive volumes of drilling and geosciences data in real-time and at a relatively low cost. The resulting actionable insights enable mine operators to make better, faster, drill and blast decisions, leading to dramatic improvements in ore body delineation and fragmentation.
For example, relatively crude geologic block models have long been used by mine operators to guide mine development decisions. Even though the grid sizes for these block models are typically in the range of “tens” of meters cubed, they have worked well enough to guide economic decisions around developing a prospect. However, once the development decision has been made and the drilling and blasting begins, these very basic geologic block models lose any value in terms of providing true understanding of the rocks to optimize critical decision making on the bench.
The fact is, having a high resolution geologic model of the ore body during the development and production process would offer tremendous value to mine site operators. But, it has historically been too time consuming, inefficient and expensive to acquire the geosciences information necessary to construct the kind of precise and accurate geologic block model that would make a material difference in fragmentation planning and ultimately mill throughput.
Due to the pace of operations on the bench, the mining industry always assumed (probably correctly) that it would be a waste of time and money to invest in acquiring more granular and timely geoscience information, especially using legacy technology. This assumption was based on the premise that although the ore content of process streams would improve substantially with this information, production would experience a significant, offsetting delay that would negate the economic gains in mill feed quality.
That economic calculation has fundamentally changed with the emergence of real-time geoscience technologies that allow differential blasting and drive historic improvements in productivity, from drill and blast operations, right through to the mill. It is now possible to acquire the rock characterization data in real-time and at a comparatively low cost. This results in significantly improved fragmentation and ore recovery without the delays in production that historically came with these decisions.
I would go so far as to say that the mining industry is now entering a new reality, in which operating productivity will be determined in large measure by a company’s commitment to acquiring and leveraging real-time geoscience information. Make no mistake, this is a game-changer for the global mining industry.
DataCloud has built the industry’s leading geosciences technology solutions that are enabling these real-time productivity gains. Our field-proven technologies include MinePortal™, a cloud-hosted earth model platform; RHINOTM, our IoT high resolution, geoscience logging tool; and DigitalGeologyTM, our image recognition software. These real-time technologies help mine operators truly to Know the Rock so they can achieve:
- greater mill throughput,
- lower processing costs per ton,
- an improved environmental footprint, and
- a stronger license to operate
We look forward to demonstrating for you how these transformative new technologies can improve your operations and bring significant gains to your company. Please contact us to learn more and arrange a demo.
Chief Executive Officer
DataCloud International, Inc.
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