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Parametric Mine Design by Audience Participation in less than 15 minutes

Jonathan Chiappero, MineRP's Product Manager, used MineRP's Parametric Mine Design tools to design a mine as fast as the audience could provide the parameters.

(Live from: The 7th International Platinum Conference, Polokwane, 18-19 October 2017. The Southern Africa Institute of Mining and Metallurgy)

MineRP can generate standards-based, reliable mine plans, fully integrated with financial and costing models. This at any time interval from strategic to short-interval operational plans. In minutes, not weeks.

Stock exchange regulatory codes constantly evolve their guidelines for technical studies. Comprehensive mine plans are required to classify Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. It is an onerous task to review the technical and economic options and test them for reliability.

The agile nature of parametric planning: leverages the ability to create spatial objects with parameter information. It allows a spatial engine connected to a computer aided design (CAD) system to render the mathematics as a spatial object. The result is greatly improved cycle times and a tangible design and schedule for all options being considered. It also avoids the risk of mathematically derived but unfeasible options.

Simply updating the parameters instantly changes the design. A computer is no longer just a fast ‘electronic pencil’. It becomes an intelligent calculator applying rules at millisecond speeds. Engineers can now generate multiple design alternatives to test for real-world feasibility.

By way of example, to design a dual haulage / return airway we need to know details such as:

  • Size and shape

  • Grade and direction

  • Distance apart

  • Distance between connections (for rail bound or trackless conditions)

  • Distance below ore body

  • Orientation at fault intersections.

With parametric planning, these modelling instructions (parameters) are provided and the design of the twin haulage complex is the result.

New opportunities emerge from several perspectives:

  • Time: One planning cycle typically takes months. Now there is time to examine alternatives, test assumptions, and verify applied mining rates and constraints. This applies equally well to families of designs such as multiple operations in a portfolio of assets. The result is increased confidence the final approved plan is feasible, believable, and achievable.

  • Data and Analytics: Parametric planning takes inputs from all mining technical disciplines at a fine level of detail. A lack of access to such data means mining has missed out on analytical tools long available to other industries. We can now bring these formidable tools to bear on mining problems. For example, artificial intelligence solutions to generate, assess and include or exclude, design alternatives.

  • ERP Systems: Structured mining technical data can be directly linked to ERP systems. This in a two way relationship. For example, the design parameters trigger ERP systems to inform the engineer on material and labour costs, or the availability of consumables.

  • Collaborative and Cognitive Planning: There is now a landscape of collaborative planning across the entire mining enterprise. This lends itself to a future automated environment where decisions are based on machine learning. It implies a machine with access to sufficient data and the ability to learn. It will then generate and assess planning alternatives for more informed decision-making.

In summary: Parametric Planning works because all mining technical data is brought together. It is collected in its aboriginal form, whichever application created it. It is then stored in a standard and accessible format.

Mining domain experts currently drive the analytical tools. There is also the prospect of surpassing human abilities.

As a scholar from the world of architecture puts it: “It is not about producing a solution, but the family of possible outcomes”. (Read more here)

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