Mining leaders to discuss digital transformation at 5th Natural Resources Forum hosted by Dassault Systèmes

4th September 2019

Digital transformation in the mining industry is a not a dream for a distant tomorrow, but a reality that every customer can define for their current operations. This is the message from Raoul Jacquand, CEO of the GEOVIA application from Dassault Systèmes.

Jacquand will deliver a presentation entitled ‘Digital Transformation in Mining’ at the 5th Annual Natural Resources Forum hosted by the French software leader at The Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton on Wednesday 11 September.

“Digital transformation is not restricted to just a small club of major mining companies with big budgets. The beauty of digital technologies is that they scale from very small to wide-reaching broad enterprise transformation. In other words, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Even small junior mining companies that operate in far-flung places, especially in Africa, can still reap the benefits,” Jacquand stresses.

“It is really at the fingertips of everyone. It is already in the making. We are no longer talking about a vision. We are talking about a reality.” This is reflected in the tenor of the forum itself, which has seen its profile evolve to include major mining customers as partners. “It is not just us trying to convince the mining industry. We now have industry leaders as speakers, which is much more powerful. We see ourselves as a facilitator of these conversations,” Jacquand notes.

High-profile speakers at this year’s forum include Brian Chiomba, Principal Business Process Integration, Debswana; Freddie Breed, Senior Mining Engineer, De Beers; Giel Marais, Senior Automation and Information Manager, De Beers; Gargi Mishra, Principle Consultant – Digital Mine, Hatch; Waylin Peddie, Technology Consulting Associate Manager, Accenture; Trevor Garden, CEO, Evolve Mining; and Alex Fenn, Head of Innovation, Sibanye Stillwater.

Now its fifth year, the forum was established due to the realisation that there was a community of stakeholders in South Africa interested in the convergence of technological trends and the mining sector, which is undergoing massive transformation.

Dassault Systèmes saw this as an opportunity to establish the forum, aimed at being inclusive in attracting speakers from across the board, informative in delivering the latest technological insights, and also interactive due to the high-level networking and dialogue opportunities. “It has grown in size every year since its inception, which we see as a sign of its adoption by the community,” Jacquand highlights.

The African mining industry remains significant for Dassault Systèmes, especially for its GEOVIA brand, which offers geological and mine-planning software. “We have had a local office in Johannesburg for several decades, serving not only South African clients, but also a broader customer base across sub-Saharan Africa. Like every other mining region in the world, digital technologies represent a serious growth potential, since they are truly underpinning the profound transformations impacting this sector.”

Jacquand elaborates that the commodities sector continues to exhibit a cyclical – and, at times, erratic – pattern. “However, what is certain is that there are strong business fundamentals, essentially supported by demographical pressures, suggesting that minerals and metals will continue to serve as the lifeblood of many industries, and therefore the economy at large.

This is yet another reason for the sector to embrace digital transformation so as to confront the challenges of this century.”

While digital transformation has been a reality in many other industries, most notably manufacturing-oriented sectors such as automobile or aerospace, it has only started to become a reality in mining, due to issues ranging from health and safety to sustainability. This year’s conference will demonstrate the relevance of digital technologies, and its practical implementation in the mining industry.

The GEOVIA solution continues to evolve in tandem with customer requirements. This is through tactical enhancements to the company’s legacy portfolio of software applications, but more importantly through a greater integration with the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, which is Dassault Systèmes’s flagship digital platform, supporting the strategic business transformation of its clients.

The forum will showcase updates and practical examples of the value this can bring to mining customers, from geomechanics to mining data intelligence.

“The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform allows our clients to benefit from digitalisation and, more broadly, from digital transformation, at the pace that fits their own constraints. The platform offers a unique combination of collaborative and scientific and engineering tools, and remains very open to the ecosystem of existing applications deployed in the field.

As a result, our customers can freely determine the speed at which they want to create a holistic, 3D-based single version of the ‘truth’ – what we call the 3DEXPERIENCE® Twin of the Mine – while capturing the knowledge and knowhow they have accumulated in their legacy systems,” Jacquand concludes.