Mine planning and engineering consultancy Ukwazi Group is working with mining major Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore to implement the new Open Pit Metals Solution (OPMS) software system at Kumba’s Kolomela mine, in Postmasburg, in the Northern Cape, says Ukwazi director and principal engineer Jaco Lotheringen.
“Ukwazi will assist Kolomela with the implementation of the OPMS system as a long-term mine planning tool. We have extensive OPMS experience, having implemented the system before at other iron-ore mines in Africa.”
However, Lotheringen tells Mining Weekly that Kolomela iron-ore mine will be the first mine to use the OPMS system this extensively, adding that system implementation is scheduled for the mine’s 2014 yearly planning cycle.
The OPMS, designed by mining software developer RungePincockMinarco, is a comprehensive, flexible and pragmatic end-to-end openpit metals mine scheduling solution, in which practical mining principles and constraints are easily modelled, with shift cycles incorporated into the system.
Lotheringen highlights that the commodity-focused system is an appropriate solution for most metal mines.
Kumba and Ukwazi bought the OPMS software licences following the release of the product at international mining exhibition Exposibram 2013, held in Brazil in September last year.
The benefits of the system include data consistency and validation, a simplified user interface, the future integration of equipment requirements, and the incorporation of the mine’s destination and waste scheduling, says Lotheringen.
As Ukwazi has used the system before and the OPMS functions on the same foundation as the current systems applied at the mine, Lotheringen expects a relatively seamless incorporation of the OPMS into the mine’s current long-term mine planning cycle.
While current scheduling systems used on site at Kolomela include RungePincockMinarco’s Xact for short-term planning and XPAC for medium-term scheduling and long-term planning, Lotheringen emphasises that the OPMS will integrate well with the current suite of mine planning software used at Kolomela.
Ukwazi has been involved in the mine planning of the Kolomela mine since 2005. “We aim to provide continuity and assist the mine planning team at Kolomela with specialist mining engineering skills,” Lotheringen says.
He adds that Kolomela has access to complete mining engineering solutions, from the conception of the mine to the execution of a life-of-mine plan and short-term planning detail, provided by one supplier.
Since Ukwazi’s services have been introduced at Kolomela, Lotheringen highlights, the company has had the opportunity to be part of the engineering and mine planning team, which has made a difference to the mine’s planning and scheduling system.
Lotheringen notes that there has been significant advancement in mine planning software over the last ten years and emphasises Ukwazi’s belief that the OPMS system integrates the necessary functionality and usability, providing a focused solution and the option to construct various mine planning scenarios.
He adds that Ukwazi also forms part of a team that investigates new mine planning software applications for Kolomela, such as RungePincockMinarco’s HAULSIM – an equipment- and haulage-simulation software tool that enables mining companies to accurately model mine haulage systems, which assists in short-term planning and in allocating equipment and equipment fleets such as trucks.
Kolomela produced 2.5-million tonnes in the first quarter of this year, following a total of 10.8 million tonnes in 2013.
In addition to Ukwazi’s involvement in mine planning at Kolomela and Kumba’s Sishen mine, also in the Northern Cape, the company has conducted advanced concept and prefeasibility studies on four other iron-ore projects in Southern Africa in the last year.
Ukwazi used the OPMS system to conduct mine configuration design for the projects.
“One of the most critical aspects in the early stages of iron-ore mines is mine configuration design, which determines the ultimate size of the pit, the most favourable production rate, and which products and processing paths should be applied to create the most value for the project overall,” Lotheringen says.
He points out that the mining processing and products differ at Kolomela and Kumba, which is why he believes in the importance of commodity-focused experience.
“Ukwazi delivers a phased development approach and pushback strategy for specific products, mine sizes and mining equipment.”
Lotheringen highlights that, as most direct-shipping ore and known low-cost orebodies are being exploited, with reasonable fluctuations in iron-ore prices, new projects must be well designed and planned to fill the space in the market and to add the most value at a competitive price.