Disruptive technology to power a new era in mining

26th January 2024


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The African mineral exploration and mining industries have a vital role to play in the world’s transition to net zero by 2050 and in the future of the African economy, with the continent home to 30% of the world’s mineral reserves. But with demand for critical minerals set to outstrip supply, the industry needs to find new ways to increase productivity and efficiency to deliver the future we desperately need, says Colin Hay, Seequent’s Executive Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts total mineral demand for clean energy will be six times the current levels under a net-zero scenario. But despite huge potential, Africa’s resources remain under-explored, as outlined by the Minerals Council South Africa at its African Critical Minerals Summit in August. 

Hay says: “The industry needs to find new deposits and ramp up production at a previously unseen speed and scale - sustainably and responsibly. Today’s ways of working will not be enough – disruptive changes are essential.” 

Many of these disruptive changes will be powered by technology, says Hay – including autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, deep geoscience intelligence and better data management.

Longstanding Mining Indaba participant Seequent, The Bentley Subsurface Company, is a world-leader in geoscience software that helps organisations to understand the underground. 

Fault lines in geoscience workflows hamper efficiency

The mining industry has long struggled with poor geoscience data management and workflows. Seequent’s latest Geoprofessionals Data Management Report found eight in ten geoprofessionals in mining saw data management as of high or critical importance for their organisation. Respondents spent 27% of their time on data – but a third lacked the information they needed to make data-driven decisions. 

“Formalised mineral resource development requires geoscientific work and its associated data to pass through many pairs of hands,” says Rob Ferguson, Seequent’s Director of Exploration and Resource Management. “Geographically dispersed teams, multiple diverse data types, siloed data stores, disconnected IT systems, and software tools not specialised for the task all conspire to create fault lines in geoscience workflows. These systemic hurdles hinder collaboration, reduce productivity and efficiency, and raise the probability of errors entering the process, invariably leading to sub-optimal decisions and inferior results. This represents a substantial barrier to achieving the required step change in productivity and efficiency.”

Solutions for connectivity and collaboration

Seequent’s solutions portfolio enables end-to-end geoscience workflows with integrated software tools and common data stored in the cloud, subject to best-practice data management principles. The tools have applications throughout the mineral exploration and mining lifecycle – such as identifying prospective targets, building the geological model, and calculating the Mineral Resource Estimate. 

With Seequent, geoscience professionals can model and predict with greater accuracy and speed the location of underground mineral deposits, and the geotechnical characteristics of underground features and structures. They can share and visualise data and collaborate with stakeholders across the value chain. 

The next evolution in the company’s capabilities – Seequent Evo – will bring teams together through a unified data platform and open ecosystem, with collaborative workspaces and secure, efficient data storage and hosting. Evo provides the foundation for connected workflows between Seequent and third-party applications, which includes a customer’s own solutions.

Seequent’s special relationship with Africa and the mining community

Seequent has a proud history of supporting the African mining industry, with some of the company’s first mining customers using its 3D geological modelling tool Leapfrog® more than 15 years ago.  

Seequent’s digital solutions are now used in 35 African countries, by both mining majors and junior explorers. Seequent’s growing presence includes main offices in South Africa (Johannesburg and George), with satellite offices in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali - supported by a global team serving customers in 150 countries.

Seequent’s tools help deliver new geological survey for Kenya 

One example of Seequent’s contribution to Africa is the deployment of the company’s geophysics modelling solution Oasis montaj to create a new nationwide airborne map of Kenya, updating a geological database previously reliant on surveys from the 1970s. Oasis montaj was used to support all phases of the new Kenya Geological Survey, says Godwin Mzumbi, Senior Superintending Geologist.  Massive quantities of high-resolution survey information were transformed into organized databases, creating a full geological map with accurate, correctly-tagged data that the government can now use to support more efficient and environmentally-accountable mining.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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