Software features improve underground mining

10th May 2013 By: Zandile Mavuso - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

Global supplier of mining software Geovia continues to enhance its Minex underground software as an engineering tool, with input from clients and the mining industry, and it plans to release Minex 6.2 later this year.
“The last update to the Minex 6.1 software, released late last year, features a new schedule-reporting function focused on production information, which enables clients to report metres progressed and tons produced,” states Geovia MD David Osborn.

He adds that Minex is the recognised world leader of integrated geology and mine planning solutions for coal and other stratified deposits. Minex uses a unique gridded seam modelling capability that enables geologists to more accurately model and interpret coal seams in a far superior and more realistic environment than alternative approaches.

“Our customers can upload raw borehole information into Minex and quickly produce a geological model. Engineers using tools for either openpit or underground operations directly use this model. The direct relationship between the gridded seam model and the engineering designs leads to better planning and scheduling practices, ultimately resulting in increased mining efficiencies and better economic returns.

“In the mining industry today, cost control is critical and any opportunity to reduce errors in planning and operations is of great value. With the seamless integration between geology and engineering in Minex, there is no need to go through any time-consuming, error-prone import/export process and geological-model validation. Engineers work directly with the geological model as soon as the geologist has created it, which is both an enormous time-saving and operational-control advantage to help reduce the risk of costly mistakes.

“Minex has a strong presence in South Africa, especially with coal geologists. With the additional underground engineering tools, there is a strong growth in demand for Minex from underground mines. Our current and prospective customers see the benefit of having a single package that guides them through the complete mining life cycle, from exploration to rehabilitation.

“So far, South Africa is one of our strongest markets for underground engineering, but we also have a growing customer base worldwide,” Osborn points out.

When selecting coal-mining software, an operation would be well advised to ensure the system is designed to be used on mine sites and is, therefore, easy to use, solves the mine’s particular challenges and does not require the ongoing presence of specialised outsourced technical services staff to run the software.

Minex’s underground engineering tools comprise a quick layout tool that allows for the design of a mine within minutes and for the building of detailed designs, panel by panel. Its more accurate reserve calculations are achieved as a result of having direct access to geology grids.

The interactive scheduling of the software allows for the generation of highly visible, activity-based schedules for medium- to long-term planning, enabling better decision- making. It also has built-in, touch-of-a-button reporting for equipment sequence, scheduling, production and high-quality outputs.

“Minex’s underground engineering tools have been built with the typical underground coal-mine planner in mind. There are several ways to quickly produce designs for either bord-and-pillar or longwall mines. Minex quickly guides the mine planner through the reserves-creation process, scheduling and reporting. The speed at which this can be achieved has resonated with many of our customers, not only in the short time it takes Minex to perform these operations but also in the time it takes a planner to develop an idea from conception to paper and to an end result,” says Osborn.

Geovia has also used its Minex underground engineering in Australia, India, Colombia and the Philippines, where miners, such as Exxaro Resources, Tata Steel, Xstrata Coal, Yancoal Australia, Philippine National Oil Company and Jindal Africa Investment are using the software to achieve excellence in their work.

“We can provide training in several settings, such as classroom training using Geovia-developed data sets and training aids, or on site using the customer’s most updated information,” says Osborn.