What does Space Mining have to do with SAP and MineRP?


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share the stage with Head of Innovation for SAP Africa, and Mars 1 candidate Adriana Marais at the SAPHILA 2017 conference in Sun City, South Africa. And we had a blast!

While it might sound strange to hear from MineRP and SAP on the topic of space mining, the experience both companies bring to the problem of advanced business planning and scenario building for spatially relevant industries provides a clue to the reason why our opinions matter. To be fair, calling either company and asking for the desk of space exploration would probably get you crickets and tumbleweed, but the innovative DNA of these two enterprise-focused companies runs deep and true.

“The main challenge for this concept, is neither technology nor cost but simply convincing people it is realistic.” University of Central Florida professor Dr. Phil Metzger

Even a modest amount of desktop research reveals the fact that companies like Deep Space Industries, Planetary Resources, SpaceX, NASA, Lockheed Martin and even Boeing are much closer to making the kind of space travel, and specifically asteroid mining a reality than most people would think. While most of us think about the problems associated with capturing and returning space resources back to earth, these companies have realized that there's another, and probably bigger market for exploiting extra-terrestrial resources, namely utilizing these resources in space, thereby fuelling the future of space exploration from space. Various technologies and mechanisms have been proposed and are being considered and tested at the moment.

So where do SAP and MineRP come in? In recent months, MineRP and SAP have participated in co-innovation projects to unify the processes of technical and financial business planning in the mining industry.

Broadly grouping the mining industry into two domains, namely the science of mining and the business of mining, MineRP and SAP have succeeded in utilizing the MineRP GeoInventory and GeoFinance (patent in progress) solutions to overcome the chasm that existed between technical and financial planning. Able to rapidly simulate fully developed technical and financial planning alternatives, the work we have done together enables companies to do in minutes what even today takes most mining companies weeks or months to complete.

Dubbed Unified Resource Management and Unified Business Planning, these solutions will be taken to the market through a growing partner network like Dimension Data's Britehouse, Wipro, and the big advisory and accounting like Delloite and others.The horizontally integrated information platform created by unifying the technical and commercial business domains is further utilized in advanced analytics and optimization solutions offered by IBM, GE and of course SAP.

As a highly technical, spatially determined and capital-intensive industry, terrestrial mining holds many lessons that can be directly applied to asteroid mining, and have solved problems that apply to both domains.

In reality, both terrestrial and space mining are at a crossroads – without business modeling and simulation, both will fail to attract the investment they need to overcome the challenges presented by the digitally integrated world we've inherited.

While I might not be joining Adriana in her personal quest for the stars, MineRP and I personally share her passion for innovation and believe that the time to invest in radically different ways of solving old problems is here.

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