Mine planning requires comprehensive approach

8th May 2015 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Mine planning requires comprehensive approach

MINE PLANNING SOFTWARE As the mining industry explores and mines more complex deposits, the MineSight software grows accordingly to accommodate the complexities

Integrating mine planning with mine operations and mine safety into a complete package for a life-of-mine solution is the best way in which mining companies can overcome volatility in the industry, says US-based technology company Hexagon Mining.

Hexagon Mining MineSight South Africa GM Rob Macfarlane says the company’s mine-planning product suite has long been pivotal to mine exploration, geological interpretation, feasibility studies, mine planning and daily mine operations management.

“In the past year, Hexagon Mining has added a streamlined workflow for seam support to its MineSight Torque software, which now includes more data types available for import, whether it is a downhole sample or a point sample,” he says.

Macfarlane explains that point samples can be individual stand- alone points, such as soil or geochemical samples grouped into point sets, or points located within a drillhole such as a fault intercept.

MineSight Torque manages drillhole, blasthole and other sample data in a Microsoft SQL server database. The data is fully integrated into other MineSight products for coding, spearing, compositing, interpolation, statistics and display, he says.

The fourth version of MineSight was released in January and includes support in the form of MineSight 3D for enhanced viewing capability, MineSight Data Analyst for statistics and MineSight Basis for model interpolation.

“Hexagon Mining has made numerous improvements to MineSight’s coal-modelling capabilities. For block models, MineSight is the only software package that can model unlimited seams in one project,” he says, adding that, with greater spatial precision, subblocking enhances MineSight’s underground solution and makes the modelling of even the narrowest coal seams quick and simple.

Macfarlane adds that MineSight is the only software package that has fully integrated haulage with multiple equipment allocation.

Moreover, true thickness logic has been added to the MineSight Implicit Modeler, enabling the software to model complex veins directly from drillhole data within minutes.

True thickness logic is important when building seam-type surfaces to interpolate the location of the top surface from the bottom surface. This is common in coal modelling. The challenge facing geologists is that the downhole, or measured thickness is an apparent thickness and not the true seam thickness.

Macfarlane notes that in 2014, Hexagon Mining introduced MineSight Dynamic Unfolding to further deal with the challenges of complex geology.

“In addition to offering better grade estimation when dealing with folding and deformation, MineSight Dynamic Unfolding’s simple inputs and straightforward auditing tools enable modellers to represent grade distribution with confidence,” he states, adding that this is unique technology.

Macfarlane explains that, as the mining industry explores and mines more complex deposits, the MineSight software grows accordingly to accommodate the complexities.

The company’s Relative Surface Interpolator, released in 2014, allows for the creation of dilution shells and intermediate surfaces. MineSight’s full unfolding solution carries variography and interpolation.

Combined with the MineSight Implicit Modeler, Dynamic Unfolding caps rapid solid and surface building with the interpolation representative of grade trends in a fold. “This allows geologists to move from raw drillhole data to a fully interpolated model quicker than ever before,” Macfarlane says.

Opportunities in Africa
Macfarlane says Africa is “probably one of the most important regions globally”, owing to its diverse range of rich mineral resources.

“There is still huge potential to develop these resources into new mining projects, which means many more opportunities for Hexagon Mining,” he says, adding that the company still has a relatively small footprint in Africa.

Hexagon Mining’s MineSight is used by various mines and mining-industry companies. For example, diversified miner BHP Billiton uses MineSight at its Mamatwan mine, in the Northern Cape, for medium- and short-term planning, equipment scheduling, pit design, grade control and drilling and blasting.

BHP Billiton also uses MineSight at its Wessels mine, also in the Northern Cape, for short- to long-term planning, and underground design and equipment scheduling. The miner also uses the software at its head office, in Johannesburg, for long-term strategic planning.

Further, manganese and iron-ore junior Diro Resources uses MineSight for short- to medium-term planning, equipment scheduling, pit and stockpile design and grade control.

Various consultancy companies, including The Workshop, Borrego and VBKom, also use MineSight for planning operations.

Macfarlane notes that beginner to advanced user training and project assistance has been provided for all these clients over the years.

Hexagon Mining’s safety technology, SAFEmine, is used extensively in South Africa, with its Leica-Jigsaw suite also being used for mining operations.

Meanwhile, Hexagon Mining released the HxM Blast software in April and will release the HxM Athena software in the next few months.

HxM Athena is a business intelligence/business analytics product that imports, validates, analyses and stores data from multiple input sources to a single data repository for presentation in dashboard views.

HxM Blast is a drill and blast management utility, designed to add precision and dependability to one of mining’s most challenging steps. “Both . . . products build on proven technology and help customers transform their data into knowledge,” concludes Macfarlane.