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19 May 2023 - Technology - GIM Suite

5 critical geological information challenges for mining

Mining companies face a particular set of challenges to ensure their geological information is managed as effectively as possible. Geological information is being generated by a rapidly increasing number of sources, which lends insight but only if the information can be captured, validated and analysed properly. Traditional ways of managing geological data, including spreadsheets and disparate bits of technology, are no longer effective with people now working in distributed teams and across regional boundaries. While technology has aided data capture, data must be synchronised across web, desktop and mobile applications. Lastly, geologists are increasingly looking for context when working with drillhole data and want to see all the information about a drillhole in one place, including graphical representations of their data.

With all that in mind, these five factors are pivotal to the advancement of geological information management.

Person managing geological data in excel

1. People

Integrating a new information management solution requires a champion for that function. There is a long history in the industry between data collection and spreadsheets, and some companies are still relying on their geoscientists, geologists, or engineers to maintain the accuracy of a site’s data. While highly accomplished in their respective fields, they probably do not have the necessary background understanding of how to manage interrelated datasets while taking into account sensor data, graphical images and geological databases.

The effective integration of a geological information management solution requires people who understand data, know what the data means and how it’s related, and anticipate how people want to use it now and in the future. It’s a lot to ask of anyone.

2. Process

Many companies grow by merger and acquisition and they inherit mines. They also inherit whatever processes the original business used. Cohesive and accurate process can become a challenge, as can getting a grasp on original observations and measurements.

Cohesive process requires all aspects of the business model to have an understanding of the workflow – from the mine site and the exploration project, through to the corporate office. Having a way to manage your geological information leads to flow path efficiency and many associated benefits.

Dig deeper: 10 signs you’re managing your geological information well

3. Infrastructure

The importance of appropriate IT infrastructure cannot be overstated. To maximise and leverage the power of enterprise geological database software, such as acQuire’s GIM Suite, companies need the right IT infrastructure – the server, cabling, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, etc. Without it, effective information management cannot surpass the technical levels of Excel spreadsheets.

Currently, industry trends motivate companies to look for cost savings, but the right software and hardware will generate efficiencies in staffing hours required to collect data and reduce the amount of time spent verifying information.

Read more: Is your mine site using the right software tools for the right job?

4. Funding

During a downturn, drilling, sampling, geophysics and direct discovery technologies are considered essential functions. Expenditure on information management, on the other hand, has been seen as one of the first cost saving initiatives in the past. With increasing stakeholder scrutiny, including from the public who expect natural resources companies to have strict ESG policies in place, it’s becoming a necessity to have governance capabilities over both mining and environmental data.

Investing in information management is ultimately a long-term business improvement.

The implementation of proper information management systems and proper integration will bring timesavings. Timesavings equate to salary and benefits right down the chain, including:

  • improved information flow for quicker drilling decisions
  • less standby time
  • faster decisions on how to design a stope underground
  • automatic synchronisation of data from the field all the way to batch samples in the laboratory
  • quicker logging and tracking of compliance obligations.

When implemented with a sophisticated, streamlined information management solution, all the pieces in the data management chain become more efficient.

5. Leadership

In an environment where cost saving is king, data-driven decision-making is necessary. Executive management must lead the culture change to perceive geological information management as an essential tool for ESG and effective business management.

To make the change, senior management must make a strong business case for the four pillars of people, process, technology and data. Effective data management practices will achieve the cost savings of spending money now to make money in the years ahead and ensure compliance.

Find out more about geological information management

If you’d like more information about how GIM Suite contributes to a highly profitable and optimised mining operation, give us a call or drop us an email.

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